This weekend one of the biggest prize-money triathlon events of the year will be taking place in Florida, featuring 14 of the sport’s fastest couples. The Couples Championship offers a $100,000 prize for the winners, and each pair gets a $10,000 appearance fee.
The man behind the event is Ben Atkins from Waterfall Bank. He’s become a big supporter of a number of triathletes, including American Heather Jackson – last week she announced that Waterfall Bank would be her bike sponsor this year.
The race is taking place on Sunday morning at Fort De Soto Park in Tierra Verde, Florida. It’s run as a relay race with each athlete completing a 400 m swim, 16 km bike and a 5 km run. There are a couple of Canadians competing on Sunday – Paula Findlay is racing with her partner Eric Lagerstrom, while 2021 Olympian Matt Sharpe is racing with his partner, American Kirsten Kasper (pictured above). To be eligible to compete in the event couples need to have been together for at least six months.
Here’s a list of the couples competing on Sunday:
- Ashleigh Gentle and Josh Amberger
- Jess Broderick and Jason West
- Emma Pallant-Browne and Jaryd Browne
- Mirinda Carfrae and Tim O’Donnell
- Marjolaine Pierre and Clement Mignon
- Paula Findlay and Eric Lagerstrom
- Kirsten Kasper and Matt Sharpe
- Samantha Kingsford and Sam Osborne
- Rachel Klamer and Richard Murray
- Rachel Olson and Andre Lopes
- Vittoria Lopes and Danilo Pimentel
- Jeanni Metzler and Justin Metzler
- Roksana Slupek and Seth Rider
- Non Stanford and Aaron Royle
There’s also a “Charity Trio” relay team made up of three-time Olympic champion Brooke Bennett, former pro cyclist Phil Gaimon and 2016 Olympic triathlon gold medalist Gwen Jorgensen. A $10,000 donation will be made to charity for every couple who beats the charity trio.
You can watch the livestream of the event on Facebook for $13.99. Heather Jackson and Greg Bennett will be commentating.
Based on the distance, one would imagine that the short-course specialists are likely to be at an advantage, but there’s an interesting mix of couples that will keep things interesting. A few weeks ago Murray and Klamer both won a sprint-distance race in South Africa, marking his return to racing after heart surgery last summer. Non Stanford and Aaron Royle have both enjoyed lots of World Triathlon success over the years, too. While Josh Amberger is better known for his Ironman exploits, he’s one of the sports best swimmers and a strong cyclist, so that team promises to be strong, too. Findlay and Lagerstrom both have lots of short-course experience, and should certainly be competitive, as will Sharpe and Kasper.
All of which should make for an interesting day of competition. Tactics might also play a factor – it doesn’t appear that it has to be a man or a woman who goes first in the race, making for an interesting dynamic, too.