The PTO Championships taking place on 6th of December have been the number one topic of conversation for the majority of 2020. As soon as it became evident that we were going to see massively reduced racing schedules both on the ITU circuit and long-distance scene, eyes started to turn to the big payday event at the end of the year. With the Ironman and 70.3 World Championships postponed until 2021, and Tokyo Olympics also delayed, many of the world’s best have been eying up a start at the biggest payday in the history of the sport. With $1,150,000 on the line, we can expect to see some incredible racing on the Speedway in Daytona!
The initial start list has been made up of the top 40 ranked PRO men and women on the PTO rankings. These were offered on a roll down basis; however, the chance of an athlete passing up the opportunity to claim $100,000 for the win was always going to be slight. In the last few weeks, we have seen the PTO announce a roster of athletes as wild cards featuring some of the world’s best athletes. With the PTO rankings coming from long-distance races, these wild card selections have allowed some of the top ITU athletes that typically focus on the World Triathlon Series a chance to compete in the biggest race of the year.
The PTO’s criteria for the 20 wildcard slots (10 men, 10 women) were both down to racing results as well as key influencers and ‘prominent personalities’, which has caused some controversy in the triathlon fraternity. In an attempt to bring the sport of triathlon in line with other mainstream sports, it is widely considered that this is a needed move for the sport to attract a wider audience... After all the public craves a bit of controversy and drama! There have been many athletes and sports stars that have defined a generation and shaped a sport with their eccentricities and character. Challenge, who are organising the race have also announced 16 private invitations (8 men, 8 women) to join the start list making it a field of 116 professionals. Hopefully, the showdown in Daytona will provide the excitement needed to elevate the sport to where it should be.
It looks likely that we will see a number of HUUB athletes on the start line especially after the recent wild card announcements, featuring some of our very own World, European, Olympic and Commonwealth medallists. The race itself will take place on the Daytona International Speedway, a venue infamous in motorsport racing and engrained in its folklore. The race will be competed over a unique distance of a 2km swim (2 laps of 1km) 80km bike (20 laps of 4km) and an 18km run (4 laps of 4.5km). The close compact nature of the event will make a fascinating and thrilling watch, and it is certainly something we have never seen before. Race preview coming soon…