Five reasons to race Challenge The Championship – and how to qualify

Challenge The Championship is Challenge Family’s annual world championship middle distance race. Bringing together top level age-groupers, who’ve earned their sport by qualifying at a previous race, and some of the world’s best PROs. The Championship brings a festival of multisport action to the small town of Samorin in Slovakia. Find out what makes this such an exciting race to be a part of – and how you can qualify!

Writer & Long Course Triathlete
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A purpose built playground for world-class athletes, each year the x-bionic® sphere in Šamorín, Slovakia plays host to Challenge Family’s flagship middle distance race: The Championship. Athletes – PRO and amateur alike – from all around the globe descend upon this small town on the shores of the Danube to test themselves against the best, and be part of a jam-packed weekend of multisport action.

As we countdown to The Championship 2024, which will see a stellar start list of PRO athletes line up. We take a look at what it is about racing in Šamorín that has so many athletes coming back year after year – and share details on how to qualify for The Championship so you can experience it yourself next year.

Why race Challenge The Championship?

Before we dive into how to qualify, why should you have competing at this middle distance triathlon on your bucket list in the first place? From the made-for-speed race course, to the race weekend atmosphere and the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the world’s top PRO triathletes. Here’s five reasons to race Challenge The Championship in Šamorín.

Fast, fun race course packed with PB potential

There’s a reason Challenge The Championship featured in our round-up of the fastest triathlons to target for an (almost) guaranteed personal best. With a straight forward swim, and a seriously speedy bike course – this is a race where you can enjoy picking up the pace and pushing the power.

Challenge The Championship fast bike course
[Photo: Bartłomiej Zborowski/Activ’Images]

Dial that aero position and nail your fuelling. The run course is flat, but features a few challenging sections with mixed terrain so you’ll want to head out of T2 with plenty of gas left in the tank. Get the pacing right, and you’ll set yourself up with a strong chance of crossing the finish line with a new personal record time for the middle distance.

Epic weekend of multisport action

Race weekend at The Championship brings a buzz of non-stop action. Alongside the qualification-only race, there’s an open middle distance event, short course racing and even a kids race. Expect a festival-like atmosphere that’s guaranteed to get you excited for race morning.

Test yourself against the best

The main Championship event is a qualification-only race. Every age-group athlete on the start line has earned their spot by putting in a strong performance at another Challenge Family race. Getting a slot is an achievement, and definitely earns you some bragging rights. And on race day, you’ll have the opportunity to see how you stack up against some of the very best amateurs in your age group. The ultimate motivation to test your limits – with the fun and camaraderie of doing it alongside likeminded triathletes.

Race alongside the world’s top PROs

The Championship is a race which consistently attracts a strong professional field. This year we’ll see defending champion India Lee go head to head with the likes of Fenella Langridge and Lucy Buckingham in the women’s race. And in the men’s race there’ll most likely be an epic showdown as the German trio of Frederic Funk, Rico Bogan and Jan Stratmann going up against favourite Pieter Heemeryck as they look to repeat their podium sweep of last year’s 70.3 world championships.

India Lee wins the Challenge Championship in Samorin 2023 [Photo credit: Activimages / Challenge Family]
India Lee will be back in Šamorín to defend her title. [Photo credit: Activimages / Challenge Family]

Qualify for The Championship and you’ll get to share the race course with stars of the sport. And with the event being so concentrated around the x-bionic® sphere, you’ll most likely bump into some of your favourite PROs over race weekend.

Experience world-class facilities at the ultimate alternative triathlon training camp destination

x-bionic® sphere is a bit of an unsung hero when it comes to triathlon training destinations – the facilities here offer up everything you need to get race ready. In fact, back in 2016 the resort became the official Slovak Olympic Training Center, with facilities for 26 Olympic disciplines. Two swimming pools, next-level gym facilities (including a Wahoo indoor training room), an athletics track, and the near-perfect asphalt of the nearby EuroVelo 6 Danube Cycle Route. Once you’ve been to x-bionic® sphere for the race, you’ll probably want to come back for a training camp to get ready for next year.

How to qualify for Challenge The Championship

Got FOMO? Time to get qualified! If you want to race at Challenge The Championship, first you need to pick another Challenge Family race that suits your strengths. The qualification window for each year’s Championship runs from 1st May – 5th May. Finish in the top 6 in your age-group, and you’ll have a guaranteed spot at The Championship. Slots also roll down if those in the top 6 choose not to accept their invitation, but only those who placed 7th-12th are eligible.

Relay teams can also qualify for The Championship, with the same top 6 finish criteria. And if you’re planning a busy race calendar but a top 6 finish isn’t in reach – it’s worth knowing that there are a small number of ‘loyalty’ slots available on a first come first served basis to any age-grouper who is racing 4 or more Challenge Family events within the qualification window.

If you’ve qualified, a few weeks after your Challenge Family race you’ll receive an official invitation to The Championship via email – at which point you have two weeks to accept the invitation and register for the race.

Ready to find your next Challenge Family race so you can have a shot at qualifying for The Championship? Check out our Challenge race guides!

Jenny Lucas-Hill
Written by
Jenny Lucas-Hill
Jenny Lucas-Hill is a writer, content creator and communications professional. A long-distance triathlon enthusiast, she has three full Iron-distance finishes to date & also loves watching the sport.
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