While this blog is focused on helping athletes learn from others and make progress in the sport, I do like to take some time and focus on general news in the Triathlon world. Very few things have grabbed more attention in the past few years than the new races series known as Super League Triathlon. In my opinion, anything that can get more people interested in the sport, the better. That means grassroots efforts like USAT’s High School club program, as well as events like Super League. So what is this new event and what is it so special?
Well, first off, this is a League that is invite only. Supposedly on the best athletes were invited, but you can be sure that contract negotiations and “what’s in it for me” we big factors for both sides of the table. The other glaring point is that, for this year at least, this is a men’s only event. All of that out of the way, we are looking at an elite series of races that will deliver a lot of fast paced action, and for sure, the first event on Hamilton Island did not disappoint.
The event’s format is a little different than the traditional Swim-Bike-Run we are accustomed to. Ok, a lot different. First of all, it is spread out over three days with each day being a little different. the first day, known as the “Triple Mix,” was a set of 3 races with only 10 minutes in between. The races were all made of a 300m swim, 6km bike, and 2k run, but all in differing orders. 1st was a traditional swim-bike-run, 2nd was run-bike-swim, and 3rd was a bike-swim-run.
The next day, the “Equalizer,” was an early morning Time Trial on the bike that determined the start position for the second event of the day. The second event was on the same course as the first day’s, but consisted of a Swim-Run-Swim-Bike-Run. The catch here was that athletes started with the same time gaps as they had on the time trial. The second catch was that as the first athletes exited the water on the second swim, a 60 second timer started and any athlete not on the bike course when time expired was pulled from the race course.
The final day was called the “Eliminator” because, you guessed it, each race eliminated part of the field. All three races were traditional swim-bike-run on the same course as the previous two days. After the first race, the only the top 15 moved on and after the second race only the top 10 were able to compete in the final. At the end of the day, the champion was crowned as the man with the most points accumulated across the three days.
I won’t go into too much detail, because you should just go watch the replay yourself on youtube. The race was awesome to follow and added the action that many triathlons other than maybe the Olympics, ITU finals, and Kona lack. The excitement carried from day to day, and while there was always the fight for the overall win, daily wins were also on the table. **Spoiler Alert** Richard Murray took the lead on day one and never let go, but with the worlds best athletes right on his heals it was far from decided until the last race on the final day.
What it means for the sport
The biggest take way from the weekends racing is what it means for the sport as a whole. With so much being poured into going long with Ironman and 70.3 races, it is refreshing to see a short course race with just as much colout and media attention. Super League has the potential to bring a lot of outside attention to the sport and draw new athletes into the age group ranks.
The one thing I think we can take advantage of at the grassroots level is to harness unique formats to shake things up in the local racing scene. Some Race Directors already give series awards from those that compete in multiple local events throughout the year, but taking that a step further and establishing a league or even a short series across back to back weekends or a stage race all in one weekend would be awesome! I could really get on board with that at an age group level and see that spark a new fire in triathletes.
What do you think? Was Super League exciting? or was it a flop? I’d love to discuss it more! let me know in the comments below or on twitter!