The ITU series has been adding a lot more sprint and relay races to their circuit over the past two years. These shorter races are designed to be spectator friendly and they are popular for TV viewing. The shorter races are changing the dynamic of racing. Some athletes are able to race a lot better at the shorter distance than over the longer Olympic distance. This makes for an exciting change since new faces populate the front of the race. With the ITU trying to bring the mixed relay format in to the Olympics, it may only be a matter of time until we also see the sprint distance appearing at the Olympics as well.
Since 2010, the Grand Prix has been underway in France with a very large super sprint series that draws some of the biggest international names. This style of racing has started to make its way to North America. This past season Quebec and Ontario both featured small super sprint racing series that attracted some of the top Canadians.
In Quebec the Grand Prix series featured both Junior and Elite categories. The events were not limited to Quebec natives, but had participants from all over Canada. The series consisted of four races: Joliette a sprint distance race, Drummondville a Super sprint race for 14 to 19 years and Olympic race for 18+, Victoriaville a super sprint race (180m swim, 5km bike, 1.5km run) and Verdun sprint distance race. Athletes accumulated points over the four races, with the last race having 1.5 x the number of points. The athletes added up their best three scoring races to determine the series winner.
South of the border, there has been a super sprint in Las Vegas for the past few years during Interbike. This race draws some of the biggest names in triathlon. The race consists of two times 300m swim, 5k bike, 2k run. In 2014 they had a very strong field.
|Elite Men 2014||Elite Women 2014|
|Aaron Royle (AUS)||Chelsea Burns (USA)|
|Ben Kanute (USA)||Erin Densham (AUS)|
|Tommy Zaferes (USA)||Erin Jones (USA)|
Canadian Paula Findlay and Kirsten Sweetland finished in 6th and 7th respectively.
In 2015 the Super Sprint USA Championship was held in Milwaukee on August 8 instead of Las Vegas. Many Americans and Canadians competed for the title and grand prize of $1,500. The race consisted of two times 325m swim, 4k bike, 1.5k run.
|Elite Men||Elite Women|
|Eric Lagerstrom (USA)||Erin Jones (USA)|
|Ben Kanute (USA)||Avery Evenson (USA)|
|Darr Smith (USA)||Taylor Spivey (USA)|
The Top Canadian woman was Joanna Brown in 9th and John Rasmussen was the top Canadian male in 4th.
Canadian pro John Rasmussen commented, “Milwaukee was a Phenomenal atmosphere. It was combined with USAT Sprint Triathlon Championships, so the crowd was electric and full of huge triathlon fans. With such a short course, all eyes were on you the entire time and you could just feed of the crowd’s energy. It was exciting as and athlete and probably equally so for all the spectators.”
There is talk of a five race series coming to the USA that will be put on by Major League Triathlon. It will have a very similar format as the grand prix in France with teams and a super sprint mixed relay format. They will be looking for 16 pro men and 16 pro women to create the teams. If the series takes off we will be sure to see a rise in triathlon in North America.