From start to finish, the 2022 triathlon calendar was packed with races, as multiple events in every distance took place simultaneously across the globe on any given weekend.
Whilst some races, such as the IRONMAN World Championship in Hawaii, WTCS Hamburg and Challenge Roth are steeped in history, new events have also popped up throughout 2022.
From those inaugural races, we’ve chosen our favourite new events of the season, as part of our 2022 Year in Review series. These range from the incredibly short and sharp format of Super League Triathlon to the true tests of endurance that only the full-distance can provide. Enjoy!
Bergen World Triathlon Cup
As somewhere that is quickly establishing itself as a hotbed of triathlon, and rivalling the likes of Girona, Boulder and the Gold Coast for its depth of talent, the Norwegian seaside town of Bergen was a welcome home to the newest ITU World Cup of the 2022 calendar.
The hometown of Norwegian titans Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden, the Bergen World Triathlon Cup offered a glimpse into the environment that shaped the adolescence of two of the greatest athletes the sport has ever seen.
On a course designed in part by the pair, August saw some of the best in the world flock to the new triathlon “Mecca” to take on the big shots in their hometown.
In the hotly anticipated men’s race, Dorian Coninx of France just out-sprinted the Olympic Champion Blummenfelt to take the win, with hometown hero Vetle Bergsvik Thorn also making the podium in third.
As a race that is already confirmed for the 2023 World Triathlon Cup calendar, Bergen can expect to see the best in the world once again take on the Nordic summer next August. Look out for Blummenfelt, Iden, Thorn, Stornes and others seeking to become the first to win on home soil.
Super League Triathlon Toulouse
Nobody, and I mean nobody, does triathlon quite like the French. Leeds has for a long time been widely acknowledged as the WTCS race with the best crowd support, but having witnessed the racing there and being able to compare it to Toulouse, I’ve got to say the French city has the edge.
When recounting an experience that gives me goosebumps, I can say wholeheartedly that I think Paris 2024 might even eclipse London 2012 as the best ever Olympic Games triathlon event. With an incredible home crowd, and gold medal threats in the men, women and mixed team relay races, Paris will be buzzing come July 2024.
Making it’s debut on the SLT Championship Series schedule, Toulouse was seen as a saving grace for what had amounted to no more than a couple of dog walkers in a car park at the previous race of the series in Malibu.
Fortunately, the French city delivered, as crowds lined the streets of the city and the banks of the River Garonne, as French favourites Dorian Coninx and Cassandre Beaugrand battled in front of a fervent crowd.
One man who won’t be forgetting that weekend in a hurry is Nathan Lessmann, as the Toulousian was met with roars from all around as he battled his way bravely in his Super League debut.
With any luck, Super League will continue to bring races to these triathlon hotbeds, as the people of Toulouse showed that no amount of money can generate that kind of race experience.
PTO Tour US Open
The PTO Tour was established properly this year and looks to go from strength-to-strength in 2023 with races set to be announced in Europe and the Asia-Pacific area to accompany the US and Canadian Opens plus the Collins Cup raced in 2022.
In Dallas, the combination of the heat, the field and the media coverage made the race incredibly entertaining to watch, with the immense prize purse on the line for the top finishing athletes also adding a sense of intrigue that’s not often found in long course triathlon.
With fierce competition, an incredible underdog story in the form of Collin Chartier and the crippling heat and humidity, the racing at the PTO US Tour was one to remember, and will be an event that is eagerly anticipated next season.
It will be interesting to see if the PTO can turn its online viewership into an on-the-ground following, as it establishes itself across three continents and its profile continues to grow.
With bags of money, a great distance and format, plus plenty of star athletes, it could quickly create a spectacle that draws triathlon fans from further afield to its events. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for 2023.
IRONMAN World Championships St George
With the recently surfacing news about the future of the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona having just come to light, it seems fitting to look back and appreciate what a great job the Utah Sports Commission did in hosting the IMWC in St George.
Whilst there was a lot of debate in the build-up about St George and its validity as a true IRONMAN World Championship, that noise was quickly quelled by a weekend that saw some of the most exciting racing the long course world has seen in a decade.
The community in St George took the chance to host the world championship with open arms, with athlete experiences from the event coming back overwhelmingly positive, as the atmosphere, accessibility and course in Utah made the championship stand out for all the right reasons.
Understandably, many people are up-in-arms about the men and women’s races at the IMWC potentially rotating between Kona and an unconfirmed location in the future, but these people should take solace in the fact that host cities, such as St George, are more than capable of putting on an event to rival those hosted on the Big Island.
Whatever the future holds for the IRONMAN World Championship, the people of St George can take pride in the fact that the delayed 2021 IMWC was one of the best in recent history, with the success of the event setting high standards for the next host.
World Triathlon Para Series and IRONMAN 70.3 Swansea
Last but not least are the two events that were hosted with great success in Swansea at the start of August. These saw the best para athletes from around the world along with some of the very best middle distance athletes Britain has to offer flock down to the Welsh seaside city over two days.
In the Para Series, British athletes Dave Ellis and Claire Cashmore took victory in front of a home crowd as they inspired the next generation of British Para athletes, with Loughborough athlete George Peasgood also finishing in second, as did Commonwealth Games champion, Katie Crowhurst.
Over in the IRONMAN 70.3 event, Alistair Brownlee showed the world what he’s all about again in his return from injury to take the win, as Tom Bishop also took third behind the Spaniard, Antonio Lopez.
On the women’s side, it was a clean sweep for the Brits, which saw Kat Matthews take the win ahead of Lydia Dant and Ruth Astle on a course that showcased the very best of the city and its surrounding areas, including the fabled Gower Peninsula.
The success in Swansea begs the question as to why it cannot once again be made a host of a European or World Triathlon Cup, with the UK unfortunately lacking any hosts of these events.
When an ITU European Cup was last held in Swansea, back in 2003, it was local hero Marc Jenkins who took the win ahead of Tim Don, before going on to become the only Welshman ever to compete in triathlon at the Olympic Games in 2004.
BONUS PICK: The Sub7Sub8 Project
So it wasn’t a race in the traditional sense, and we don’t know when (or if) there will be another one, but we feel that major kudos has to be given to all of the teams (on and off course), that were involved in delivering the Sub7Sub8 Project.
First announced in January 2021, it is fair to say that there were plenty of sceptics for a long time at the plans for the Pho3nix events.
Was it even ‘real’ triathlon? In the build up they lost two of their four star names through injury, as first Lucy Charles-Barclay and then Alistair Brownlee were unable to take part. The year had hardly started well for Nicola Spirig, either.
Could late notice replacement Kat Matthews, and very late notice replacement, Joe Skipper step in and save a project which, potentially, could have fallen a long way short of the #DefyTheImpossible hashtags and marketing talk of Chris McCormack?
The event exceeded expectations on almost every level, the level of competition, the presentation, broadcast, pre-event coverage – everything. It was compelling stuff.