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Edmonton’s new Major – the PTO Canadian Open 

Everything you need to know about Edmonton's latest big-time event that offers a US$1 million prize purse

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

For over two decades Edmonton has been hosting some of the world’s premier triathletes for World Triathlon. The city has done such a great job of hosting the events that it is one of only a precious few cities to have hosted the world championships three times. This year Edmonton will continue its tradition of big-time races, but instead of a World Triathlon event, the city will be hosting the inaugural “major” for the Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO).

PTO Tour

The PTO has long pushed the idea that it is following the lead of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), the Professional Golf Association (PGA) or the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) – it has long wanted a series of “majors” where the world’s top professionals can earn some major prize money. The PTO Tour will come to fruition this year with Edmonton hosting the first of three events in the PTO Tour, with another two more to be added in 2023. In 2022 the Tour will kick off with the launch of the PTO Canadian Open in Edmonton, the PTO US Open in Dallas and the second edition of the Collins Cup, which returns to Samorin, Slovakia.?In 2023 there will be two more events added to the Tour – the European Open and the Asian Open.

The PTO hopes to attract some big age-group fields to the races, too, providing triathletes an opportunity to race and interact with the sport’s biggest names.

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Hometown hero: Edmonton’s own Paula Findlay seen winning the St. Anthony’s Triathlon. Photo: St. Anthony’s Triathlon

2022 PTO Tour schedule

  • PTO Canadian Open – Edmonton, Canada, July 23 to 24, 2022 – US$1m purse
  • The Collins Cup – Bratislava, Slovakia, August 20 to 21, 2022 – US$1.5m purse
  • PTO US Open – Dallas, Texas, Sept. 17 to 18, 2022 – US$1m purse

100 km distance

The new events, along with the Collins Cup, will continue to be run over what is becoming the PTO’s preferred 100 km distance including a 2-km swim, an 80-km bike and an 18-km run. The top 40 athletes in the PTO standings will automatically qualify for the Open races, with an additional five wildcard slots available for both the men’s and women’s races.

The events will feature some of the sport’s largest paydays – US$1 million for the Open events and US$1.5 million for the Collins Cup. All will feature the same extensive live coverage that debuted at the Collins Cup.

$5.5 million PTO Tour kicks off with Canadian Open in Edmonton

Do North Events

The group organizing the race in Edmonton are the same team who have been bringing World Triathlon races to the city for over 20 years. It all began as the vision of Sheila O’Kelly, who anchored the group that has hosted three world championships in the city – 2001, 2014 and 2019. The company behind the race organization has rebranded itself and is now called “Do
North Events.”

Click here for more information and to register

Age-group racing

The age group racing will include sprint (25 km total distance) and middle-distance (100 km) races. The age-group component of the PTO Canadian Open is an important aspect for the Do North organizing team, according to Do North general manager Stephen Bourdeau.

“This is an event for age-groupers and pros,” he says. “Few majors offer a chance to race alongside some of the best long-course and short-course athletes in the world. That personal connection and opportunity is important – age-groupers need to feel part of the event.”

Bourdeau is also happy to express the ambitious goals the Do North team has for the race – “we want to grow the event to be the largest triathlon in Canada with 3,000 age group athletes in three to four years.”

The Course

Like the World Triathlon events in years past, the race will be based out of Hawrelak Park, but a new bike course promises to take in much more of city than previous major events have.

The three-lap, 2 km swim will take place in Hawrelak Park Lake, with waves of 60 to 120 athletes being sent off over a two-to-three-hour period. The water temperature is expected to be about 20 C, which means it will likely be a wetsuit-legal swim.

The four-lap, 80 km bike course will wind through Edmonton’s river valley along the North Saskatchewan River up to the city centre. There will be about 760 m of climbing through the ride, with 200- to 800-m climbs with grades between four and eight per cent.

The 18 km run includes three, six-km laps through Hawrelak Park. There are a couple of out-and-back sections on the relatively flat final leg of the race.

Lionel Sanders on his way to a runner-up finish at the Ironman World Championship St. George

The field

With a US$1 million prize purse up for grabs the event in Edmonton promises to be stacked. Canadians Lionel Sanders and hometown hero Paula Findlay are confirmed for the race, and will no-doubt be joined by many of the biggest names in the sport. The race will provide triathletes a great opportunity to watch their favourite pros and also compete on the same weekend.