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Challenge Daytona to host PTO Middle Distance World Championship with $1 million prize purse

Challenge North America, USA Triathlon and Professional Triathletes Organisation partner at Challenge Daytona race in December.

At a press conference today athletes and organizers announced the Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO) Middle Distance Championship, which will be part of a weekend full of age-group and professional racing.

Athletes compete at the 2019 Challenge Daytona race. Photo: Jose Luis Hourcade.

As long as we’re back to racing by December, the sport will see the largest prize purse offered in the sport for many years at Challenge Daytona. The PTO Middle Distance World Championship will offer a $1 million prize purse that will go to the top 20 men and women in the race. (The Hy-Vee Triathlon also offered a $1 million prize purse, but in 2013 dropped the prize money to $500,000. In 2014 the race was discontinued.)

Fully acknowledging that the race will be completely dependent on the status of the global coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, Challenge North America CEO William Christy saw the Challenge Daytona event as an opportunity to provide some hope for professional and age-group athletes alike.

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“In often a divided world, triathlon has been a unifying force for athletes across the globe,” he said. “We come together to compete as a family of global athletes. The global pandemic has displaced athletes and cancelled races and now more than ever, our world needs to unite. With so many events already cancelled and it being difficult to determine if there will be much racing in the summer and fall seasons, we reached out to the USAT and the Professional Triathletes Organisation to see whether our event could serve as a uniting force that would honour all that is great in our sport and the triathlon community.”

Related: PTO increases prize purse and distributes money right away

“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our daily lives and routines in dramatic ways,” adds Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon CEO. “As we adjust and adapt to these changing circumstances, we also know that our entire multisport community is eagerly awaiting the day we can safely and responsibly race again. USA Triathlon is proud to collaborate with Challenge North America and the PTO to offer a world-class event in December that will showcase the camaraderie of our sport.”

Lionel Sanders and Pablo Dapena Gonzalez run stride for stride at Challenge Daytona. Photo: Jose Luis Hourcade.

In today’s press conference organizers also acknowledged that with conditions changing daily throughout the world they will have to be open to other race formats, including time-trial formats, and will have a variety of contingency options in place for the event.

The weekend won’t only be about the pros, though. Three days of racing (December 4 to 6) will include:

  • The PTO Middle Distance World Championships
  • Sprint and Middle-Distance Triathlons
  • Junior Challenge kids’ race
  • Pro Am Relay Race
  • 5K/10K run/walk events
  • Relay categories
  • Duathlon and Aquabike events

According to today’s release:

“At this point, there are no registration fees, but people can register their interest at www.challengedaytona.com. Challenge Daytona, the USAT and the PTO and will continue to monitor the ongoing global conditions in an effort to finalise the event details — including a complete schedule and registration process — no later than mid-June. At the time the event details are officially determined, entries will be accepted by those who had previously signed up for priority access on a first-come, first-served basis.”

Paula Findlay and Lucy Charles race shoulder to shoulder during the run at the 2019 Challenge Daytona race. Photo: Jose Luis Hourcade.

Last year’s Challenge Daytona  event had a very Canadian feel as Lionel Sanders and Paula Findlay took top honours.

Paula Findlay and Lionel Sanders celebrate at the finish line set up in Daytona International Speedway’s iconic pit row. Photo: Jose Luis Hourcade.