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WATCH LIVE: The Championship 2024

The Championship returns for its seventh season in Slovakia, with the crown jewel of the Challenge Family middle distance calendar attracting athletes from all over the world on Sunday.

Staff Reporter
Last updated -
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This is a preview for The Championship, which was won by Great Britain’s India Lee and New Zealander Kyle Smith, with both athletes breaking the previous course records.

Middle distance racing returns to Šamorín in Slovakia this weekend, as Challenge Family host the seventh edition of The Championship on the banks of the Danube River.

Last season, Frenchman Mathis Margirier and British athlete India Lee set the course records on their way to victory, with Lee returning to defend her title in 2024.

In our preview piece ahead of the race, you can find all the information you need, including start times, streaming information and how to watch the race live.

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Start time and how to watch live

The Championship will take place on Sunday May 19, with the men kicking things off at 08:30 local time. This corresponds to 07:30 in the UK, 02:30 on the East Coast and 23:30 on Saturday May 18 on the West Coast.

Starting ten minutes later, the women will begin at 08:40 local time. This corresponds to 07:40 in the UK, 02:40 on the East Coast and 23:40 on Saturday on the West Coast.

Live coverage of the full race, with commentary from Belinda Granger, will be available via the embed below.

The race is also accessible via the Challenge Family website, by clicking here, along with a timing/tracker link.

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Pro Men

With defending champion Margirier absent, bike course record holder and last year’s bronze medalist Frederic Funk will start this race as the highest returning finisher from 2023 and one of the big contenders for the win.

Frederic Funk finish line Challenge Samarkand 2023 photo credit Challenge Family
[Photo credit: Challenge Family]

The German, who finished second at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship last season, started the season with a disappointing ninth at the Singapore T100, but will feel at home in Šamorín, where he lines up at The Championship for the fifth time.

Joining Funk in Slovakia will be his two fellow countrymen Rico Bogen and Jan Stratmann, who sandwiched Funk in first and third at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship last summer. After a historic sweep in Lahti, the trio are more than capable of doing the same again this weekend, but in what order?

Stratmann has started the season strongly, with two second place finishes in Valencia and Mallorca, whilst Bogen started the season with a 12th place finish at the Miami T100 and will make his second start of 2024 on Sunday.

In an incredibly strong field, veteran racers like Pieter Heemeryck, third at the Singapore T100, can never be overlooked. He finished second to Sebastian Kienle here five years ago, in what was an epic battle until the very late stages of the run. The British duo of James Teagle and Josh Lewis – both top 10 finishers at the 2023 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship – are also racing.

Challenge Salinas podiums 2023 Marc Dubrick Elizabeth Bravo
[Photo credit: Challenge Family]

Kyle Smith, the amiable New Zealander, and Marc Dubrick, who has been making waves over the past 12 months Stateside, are two more athletes who are absolutely capable of winning this race on their best days.

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Pro Women

In the women’s field, it is very hard to look past the defending champion, India Lee, who started this season with a brilliant victory at the Miami T100 back in March.

India Lee wins the Challenge Championship in Samorin 2023 [Photo credit: Activimages / Challenge Family]
[Photo credit: Activimages / Challenge Family]

Since then, Lee has only raced once, and was forced to withdraw midway through at the Singapore T100, but now, hopefully back to full health, the British star appears to be the leading contender heading into this weekend.

Up against her in Slovakia is Els Visser of the Netherlands, the in-form athlete coming into this race, who already has six podiums to her name in 2024.

Other contenders include Fenella Langridge, whose best finish is fourth at The Championship, plus German Caroline Pohle, who finished in second behind Lee last year and was third at her first race of the season in Valencia last month.

Marta Sanchez of Spain and Denmark’s Laura Madsen have both won races already this season, and will be looking to add to their tally, with Sanchez picking up an impressive victory over Daniela Ryf at IRONMAN South Africa in April.

Finally, keep an eye out for Estonian Olympian Kaidi Kivioja, who has raced both of the T100 Triathlon World Tour events as a wildcard this year, where she has racked up two top-10 performances.

History

The first edition of The Championship took place at the x-bionic sphere, Šamorín in 2017. Last season, Mathis Margirier and India Lee took impressive wins and in the process, broke the previous course records set by Florian Angert in 2021 and Lucy Charles-Barclay in 2019. It’s worth noting however, that there have been some changes to the course used over the years, including the move of the swim which initially was in the River Danube, to the more sheltered and narrow canal.

At The Championship, the 1,900m swim takes place in the Danube Canal, with the athletes completing a point-to-point swim. On to the bike, the flat and fast course is just the one loop on a primarily out and back course. Finishing on the run, the course takes in five laps of the x-Bionic sphere venue.

Previous winners:

2023: India Lee (GBR) and Mathis Margirier (FRA)

2022: Sara Perez Sala (ESP) and Gustav Iden (NOR)  

2021: Lucy Buckingham (GBR) and Florian Angert (GER)

2019Lucy Charles-Barclay (GBR) and Sebastian Kienle (GER)

2018Lucy Charles-Barclay (GBR) and Lionel Sanders (CAN)

2017Lucy Charles-Barclay (GBR) and Lionel Sanders (CAN)

Course Records:

Men: Mathis Margirier (FRA) – 3:31:29 (2023)

Women: India Lee (GBR) – 3:58:29 (2023)

Prize Money: What’s on the line?

The crown jewel of the Challenge Family middle distance racing calendar, The Championship offers a significant total prize purse of 100,000 and is a PTO Gold Tier Event.

The total funds will be paid ten-deep, as follows:

  1. €15,000
  2. €9,000
  3. €7,000
  4. €5,000
  5. €4,000
  6. €3,000
  7. €2,500
  8. €2,000
  9. €1,500
  10. €1,000

As a Challenge Family event, there’s also a second potential source of earnings for athletes too, courtesy of the Challenge Family World Bonus!

Challenge Family offers a $125,000 bonus pot, which is paid out to the top five ranked male and female athletes across the Challenge Family race season.

There are 400 World Bonus points on offer for the winner at The Championship, significantly more than the 250 points awarded to regular Challenge Family middle distance race winners.

Tomos Land
Written by
Tomos Land
Tomos Land is a triathlon & running journalist whose expertise lies in the professional world of short course & long distance triathlon, though he also boasts an extensive knowledge of ultra-running.

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