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Who pays top dollar – Super League, World Triathlon, the PTO or IRONMAN?


Super League Triathlon Championship

Super League Triathlon has made a major impact on the sport of triathlon since its debut event on Hamilton Island, Australia in March 2017.

The 2021 Championship Series – comprising of four events on consecutive weekends in September – provided incredible racing and some heart-stopping finishes in London, Munich, Jersey and Malibu. It was a British double once the points were added up, courtesy of Alex Yee and Georgia Taylor-Brown.

Some of the world’s finest short-course triathletes took part in the full Series, along with a string of big-name wild cards, including newly-crowned Olympic champions Kristian Blummenfelt and Flora Duffy and IRONMAN 70.3 World Champions Lucy Charles-Barclay and Gustav Iden.

In 2022, the Championship Series expanded to five races, as event in London, Munich, Malibu, Toulouse and NEOM were held from early September through to late October. Hayden Wilde was the new men’s champion, while GTB defended her crown in style.

Made for TV

The whole aim of Super League Triathlon is to make the sport into must-watch TV – think Twenty20 cricket for a useful comparison. Taking a sport which normally lasts for longer and boiling it down into something in theory which is even more exciting for both triathlon and general sports fans. The introduction of teams in 2021 added to that Twenty20 comparison, similar to the hugely successful Indian Premier League or the Big Bash in Australia.

Broadcasters appear to have bought into the concept – both BBC Sport and BT Sport carried coverage of the 2021 Championship Series, while further afield the like of Eurosport, Sky Sports, Flo Sports and SLT TV on YouTube, have brought triathlon to the masses.

Sponsors and partners are also high-profile, including the likes of Zwift, OFX, Nike, Garmin, Red Bull and Asics.

The whole product – with the Series fronted by the opinionated former Kona king, Chris McCormack – is geared to provide entertainment and colour.

So far job done, and doubtless there are more new wrinkles to come.

Super League Triathlon race formats

There are four (non-standard) formats for used in the Super League Triathlon Championship Series:

  • Eliminator: Three short triathlons, with the slowest competitors eliminated after each one. Fifteen go through to the second and 10 to the third and final race. The third and final race gives the final finishing order.
  • Triple Mix: Three short triathlons are raced but in different order each time. First up the usual swim-bike-run, then run-bike-swim and after that bike-swim-run. Athletes do get a very short break between each. The aim is to find the most versatile athlete.
  • Equalizer: A two-stage race with an individual time trial in one discipline first, followed by a swim-bike-run-swim-bike-run, with an athletes start time determined by the time gaps from the TT effort.
  • Enduro: Three short triathlons in one long swim-bike-run-swim-bike-run-swim-bike-run race. The last two athletes into transition after each discipline are eliminated, further adding to the ‘Hunger Games of Triathlon’ references.

Such is the culture of the SLT Team, that new formats and quirks such as the Short Chute are added, tested and tweaked every season. That keeps not just spectators, but the athletes themselves on their toes.

Arena Games

This is the indoor version of Super League, which made its debut in Rotterdam in 2020 and followed up in 2021 with a further stop in the Dutch city plus an event at the Olympic Pool in London.

Professionals taking part do so in Super League’s Triple Mix Format – three fast and hich-octane stages with swim, bike and run in each. A 200m swim in an Olympic pool before the 4km bike and 1km run are completed on smart trainers and self-powered curved treadmills. Super League does this in a unique partnership with Zwift.

There is a break of two minutes between each stage but the athletes finishing fastest for each leg get a longer break than the rest. Racing may be short, but it’s incredibly intense.

In November 2021 Super League announced a partnership with World Triathlon giving the event both official World Championship status and an esports World Championship Series. There was another British double here, as Alex Yee and Beth Potter won the inaugural titles, with events being held in London, Munich and Singapore.

Who has won Super League Triathlon?

2022 Championship Series: Hayden Wilde (NZL) and Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR). Team – Bahrain Victorious Scorpions.
2021 Championship Series: Alex Yee (GBR) and Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR). Team – Eagles.
2018/19 Championhip Series: Vincent Luis (FRA) and Katie Zaferes (USA)

2022 Arena Games Series: Alex Yee (GBR) and Beth Potter (GBR)

Prize Money – how much can they win?

Athletes taking part in the 2021 Championship Series were competing for a share of $1.25million. Prize money was handed out in a number of different areas – starting with the overall points standings and individual round performances. There were further prizes available for rankings within each individual discipline (the swim, bike and run jerseys), plus the newly introduced teams competition.

Women’s overall champion Taylor-Brown took home a total of $140,000 for her stellar performances while Learmonth was very close behind on $136,000 after those wins in London, Munich and Jersey.

Men’s champion Yee took home a cool $120,000 for his work during September 2021, with New Zealander Hayden Wilde next on $104,500.

Super League Triathlon says it pays all travel, accommodation, food, physio, mechanic and marketing support for athletes throughout the Series making it a truly professional endeavour.

Team franchises launched in 2021

To coincide with the start of the 2021 Championship Series in September, Super League announced the creation of teams or franchises. Each would have a specific number of athletes, and a team manager.

The teams created, and their managers, were (and remained in 2022):

  • Eagles – Tim Don
  • Cheetahs – Annie Emmerson
  • Scorpions – Chris McCormack
  • Sharks – Michelle Dillon
  • Rhinos – Ronnie Schildknecht

How did Super League Triathlon begin?

There are three co-founders – CEO and entrepreneur Michael D’Hulst, the aforementioned Chris McCormack and Russian venture capitalist Leonid Boguslavsky (founder of RTP Global).

Super League Triathlon commentators

We have more star power in the booth with two-time IRONMAN World Champion McCormack providing the colour alongside play-by-play man Will McCloy. Former TRI247 columnist Annie Emmerson is also a key part of the broadcast team.