It is Friday (woot) so any number of things could have made me happy today, such as the fact that I did not have to be in until 10 o'clock this morning and I still was able to get out early, but what really made my day was the big announcement made by Challenge Family today. If I was standing when I read the news I definitely would have jumped for joy! I am so glad to hear that Challenge Family is making an effort to support the role professionals in the sport of triathlon. I had a feeling that there would be good things to come when they had reached out to the triathlon community via social media to fill out a survey that included questions about the role of professionals in triathlon. I am glad that the result was a favorable one for the (us) pros and they will have prize money at all of the North American races including the races formerly run by Rev3. Perhaps Andrew Messick and Ironman will rethink their priorities. Not holding my breath for this one though.
I was rather disappointed when Rev3 announced that they were no longer offering prize money at their races after Knoxville this past May. Unfortunately offering a lucrative prize purse did was not a sustainable business practice for Rev3, as even with big name pros like Rinny, Heather Jackson, and Lauren Goss coming to races, they did not draw in enough age-groupers to make a profit. While I was upset, especially as I was planning to make the jump to the pro ranks the following season, I understood why they had to drop the pro prize purse from their races. It was very exciting to hear when Rev3 partnered with Challenge in September. This partnership had great potential and promise.
With the 2015 season and my debut as a professional, approaching I have been trying to plan my race schedule. I have scoured the internet looking for local/regional races with prize money that were NOT Ironman-branded races. This was a challenge as there are not many, but by searching long and hard I found more than I thought I would. They are mostly smaller races that do not traditionally draw in many, if any professionals, but there are no rules saying that pros cannot participate or take home some cash in such races, as long as the total purse does not exceed $5K and it is not an "age-group" award. My plan for doing such races may sound like I am trying to sandbag, but I have my reasons. If you contact me I can explain my rationale.
My 2015 race schedule is far from set in stone and I am so thrilled that I have more options for races and I am not limited to Ironman-brand events if I want a race with a professional field. While Challenge Family already had a handful of races with pro purses in North America, only one race, Challenge Atlantic City, was within 400 miles of Philadelphia. So I am thrilled that I now have a number of other races with a pro field and prize money not too far from home with races in Quassy, Williamsburg, Pocono, and Maine.
This was a huge move on the part of Challenge Family in displaying their commitment and support of professionals in triathlon. I would love to see this pay big dividends for them, because an effort like this should be rewarded. When you are planning your 2015 season I know you have options, but you should consider signing up for a Challenge race. Challenge has shown they are dedicated to the sport and its athletes in ways that Ironman has not. I believe there are many more exciting things to come from the growing presence of Challenge Family in North America. I am very much looking forward to racing with Challenge Family in 2015!