The organisers behind last weekend’s Challenge Bahrain have announced a three-race series for the region next year, called the Challenge Triple Crown and offering a $1m prize fund for the Grand Final in Bahrain.
Triathlon legend Chris ‘Macca’ McCormack was one of the first to express his excitement:
The “Triple Crown” of triathlon in the GCC in 2015. And the Triathlon game has just changed!!!!!!! @Challenge_bh
— Chris McCormack (@MaccaNow) December 6, 2014
This follows an exciting weekend’s half iron distance racing in Bahrain over the weekend, which saw strong performances from Brits Tim Don (4th), Rachel Joyce (2nd), Jodie Swallow (3rd) and Jodie Stimpson (8th). Overall victory came for Michael Raelert (GER) and Helle Frederiksen (DEN), who claimed the biggest chunk of the $500k prize pot.
“The Triple Crown is changing completely the perception of triathlon on a global scale,” said Challenge Family CEO, Zibi Szlufcik. “It’s a game changer for the sport, taking it to a whole new level. Plus it is providing Challenge Family opportunity to grow the sport in line with our core values and providing pro athletes as well as age groupers with an amazing structure throughout the whole year, leading to a grand final in Bahrain.”
The series is already a talking point among pros – GB athlete Tamsin Lewis told 220 earlier today: “The Sheikhs can sure put on a show! After years of suffering poor prize money and rewards as a pro triathlete (albeit my own choosing), this is good news for the sport. As Challenge Bahrain showed money talks attracting the best fields and athletes in mint condition.
“My only reserve is that the courses will all be similar – flat and therefore only suit a certain type of athlete. My experience with the Challenge organisation has a whole has been highly positive, with pro athletes being treated with respect and provided with a HomeStay and decent prize money. The same cannot be said for Ironman.”
The increase in high profile sporting events in this part of the world has come with its critics though, and has already sparked debate on social media sites…..
Challenge Bahrain + Triple Crown a coup for triathlon, but an interesting political climate over there. Sport does not exist in a vacuum.
— Noelle De Guzman (@kikayrunner) December 7, 2014
Whatever the political debates are, this could be a nice stocking filler for some in form pros next Christmas. With this kind of incentive, the question will be if this is enough for the big name long distance athletes to switch their training plans for 2015 away from the Kona ‘chalice’ and that Ironman title?
(Image: Harold Heindell Tejada)
Do you think the Challenge Triple Crown will lure many athletes away from Kona? Let us know in the comments below!