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5 Takeaways from the 2019 triathlon prize money standings

Katie Zaferes sprints to the win at the ITU WTS Grand Final in Lausanne, Switzerland.

As we near the end of the 2019 race season, it looks like the sport’s top prize money earners are going to be the ITU world champions, Katie Zaferes and Vincent Luis. Some thoughts on the latest prize money rankings compiled by TriRating.com’s Thorsten Radde for Challenge Family:

1. If money is the goal, put a tennis racket in your child’s hands

This weekend the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Finals will hand out US$14 million in prize money. The winner could take home as much as US$4.7 million of that prize purse. The top prize money earner in triathlon for this year is likely to be American Katie Zaferes, who’s US$247,000 total earnings from this year pales in comparison to the money the top women’s tennis players will make.

Of course, most pro triathletes don’t get into the sport with a paycheck in mind … you don’t work that hard, for that long, for as little money as our top athletes make unless you love what you are doing first and foremost.

Still, wouldn’t it be nice if our pros made a bit more? Especially when the biggest brand in the sport is seeking a US$1 billion sales price.

2. When it comes to making money, short course racing is the way to go.

That statement is very true in 2019, but wasn’t quite as true in 2018 when Daniela Ryf topped the overall prize money rankings. Ryf’s 13th in Kona this year dropped her out of the running for the most prize money this year. Zaferes and fellow ITU world champion Vincent Luis topped the standings because of their ITU wins, but they also added to their tallies with wins at the Super League championship, too.

Lucy Charles-Barclay parlayed her runner-up Kona finish along with wins at the Challenge Championship, Challenge Roth and the Ironman Africa Championship to finish second in the standings, but she covered a lot more distance in her races than Zaferes for considerably less pay.

Six of the top 10 women were short course athletes and five of the top-10 men. (That number for the men could also be considered six, too – Javier Gomez competed on the WTS circuit this year and also won a 70.3 and Ironman race.)

Joanna Brown on the bike at the ITU WTS Grand Final in Lausanne, Switzerland. She is the only Canadian woman on the top-50 prize money list so far in 2019.
Tyler Mislawchuk celebrates the win at the ITU World Triathlon Olympic Test Event in Tokyo. Photo: ITU Media | Delly Carr

3. Canadians competing in the ITU fared better than long-distance competitors in 2019

The top Canadian prize money winners in 2019 were Joanna Brown (the only Canadian woman to appear in the top-50 rankings), who earned US$24,100 and Tyler Mislawchuk, who earned US$50,850. Other Canadians who appear in the rankings include: Jackson Laundry, US$22,819 and Cody Beals, US$20,000.

Holly Lawrence on the run at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Nice.

4. Half-distance specialists don’t make as much money as short-course or Ironman athletes.

The highest ranked half-distance specialist on the list is Rodolphe Von Berg, who sits at 10th in the men’s standings after making US$62,177 this year. That includes a bronze medal at the 70.3 worlds in Nice. Holly Lawrence was 11th in the women’s standings, having made US$73,000. Lawrence won Ironman’s 70.3 regional titles in Asia, North America, Europe and the Middle East, and took second at the worlds in Nice … and that still isn’t enough to get her to the top 10. That might change, though, if she wins Ironman 70.3 Bahrain in December.

France’s Vincent Luis tops the men’s prize money standings, one of the many European athletes at the top of the prize money standings. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

5. Europeans make a lot more from triathlon than North Americans – or any other continent for that matter.

If you look at the top-10 of both the men’s and women’s rankings, of the 20 athletes on the list, 15 are from Europe. Four are American and one is from Australia.

TOP 10 Pro Prize Money Ranking- Women

1 Katie Zaferes USA $247,500

2 Lucy Charles-Barclay GBR $150,972

3 Anne Haug GER $138,000

4 Jessica Learmonth GBR $119,400

5 Georgia Taylor-Brown GBR $102,200

6 Daniela Ryf SUI $100,818

7 Taylor Spivey USA $86,450

8 Rachel Klamer NED $79,150

9 Sarah Crowley AUS $78,030

10 Cassandre Beaugrand FRA $75,850

Click here for the top-50 list as of October 20, 2019

TOP 10 Pro Prize Money Ranking Men

1 Vincent Luis FRA $189,200

2 Jan Frodeno GER $158,000

3 Mario Mola ESP $130,300

4 Javier Gomez ESP $109,300

5 Sebastian Kienle GER $102,428

6 Gustav Iden NOR $92,600

7 Kristian Blummenfelt NOR $78,700

8 Timothy O’Donnell USA $68,000

9 Fernando Alarza ESP $65,750

10 Rodolphe Von Berg USA $62,177

Click here for the top-50 list as of October 20, 2019