Having taken place the weekend of the Collins Cup last August, Challenge Family’s The Championship returns in stand-alone mode next Sunday for its fifth edition.
With €100,000 up for grabs, Gustav Iden’s return to racing and the potential for a fifth consecutive British race winner, there’s plenty to expect – especially as you can also watch it all live via the embed below.
Start time and how to follow live
Challenge Family The Championship takes place on Sunday, May 22, 2022.
The start time for the race is 09:00 local time (Pro Men). This corresponds to 0800 in the UK and 0300 Eastern time. The Pro Women starts 10 minutes later at 09:10 local time.
Commentary for the live stream comes from Challenge Family’s professional liaison, Belinda Granger. Belinda was recently part of our Expert Panel ahead of the IRONMAN World Championship in St George, and is a regular feature on Challenge and CLASH coverage.
It can also be accessed through the Challenge Family website under the Live tab, with a timing/tracker link.
Arguably the name of the title, with news of the late addition of the reigning IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion, Gustav Iden. Add his 2020 PTO Championship win at the Daytona Challenge to his two 70.3 titles, and the Norwegian is objectively the best male middle-distance athlete in the world, winning the biggest race of the season for the past three years. All three have been reached apparently without pushing to its absolute limits.
This will of course put a target on his back – but he’ll probably greet it with a smile and that endearing Norwegian confidence. A huge amount of training went into his preparations for St George without showing anything. You should be thinking that, assuming he’s healthy now (and why would he be here if not?), there’s a lot of frustration to be worked out.
You can’t really bet against Iden for the win – but with Kyle Smith (NZL), Josh Amberer (Australia) and Richard Varga (SVK) racing, he will surely have some hunting to do. It’s a small, but very high quality swimming trio – one that Collin Chartier (USA) hope to make a quartet, maybe.
It’s not like they all can’t ride either – Smith, for example, led the bike and the first 6 kilometers of the race at the IRONMAN World Championship two weeks ago. Whether he’s flying high because of it or feeling tired, I suspect he won’t know himself until the shot sounds…
Miki Taagholt is a name that usually goes under the radar, but the Danish athlete finished fourth at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in St George last year. It’s not the kind of result you can fake – it’s a class act.
Frederic Funck is the rising star of German triathlon with a strong family heritage in the sport. Exceptional on the bike in particular, he won the European Middle Distance Triathlon Championships last year – one of three wins for the Challenge family – and started 2022 with victory at the German Classic, the Buschhutten Triathlon recently. He will definitely want to reach Q2 by a decent margin over Iden, if he is aiming for a podium finish this weekend.
In the end, few people will bet against Gustav Iden winning. I am not one of them.
Fourth in Lanzarote and third in Gran Canaria so far in 2022, defending champion Lucy Buckingham has yet to reach the heights she has shown so consistently through 2021. With a big year ahead, including the PTO Tour and the 70.3 World Championship at the end of October (a race she missed last year last), that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You certainly can’t aim for everything.
Four weeks after that last race, she will probably have reached another level – with the confidence to return to a race where you did well. Given the competition, this will surely be necessary to earn another victory and maintain the “Lucy” streak (see below) in Samorin!
Lots of additional British interest which should also have podium potential, via Emma Pallant Browne, Fenella Langridge, India Lee and Lucy Byram.
After wins at Riccione and Mallorca recently, Emma has regained some of the confidence her early-season issues at CLASH Miami took from her. Fourth in the race in 2018, his cycling development and his aerodynamics in particular, are now more suited to this (flat) course than they were then, thanks to the many contributions of Specialized and his trainer, Tim Don. She showed at the Collins Cup last year that she can now perform on this type of terrain with confidence.
Fenella arrives after finishing eighth in the IRONMAN World Championship, while, as we found out this week, India will play a key role in the team supporting Kat Matthews at the Sub8 project in a few weeks. She was fourth on the last outing in Riccione, one place behind Lucy Byram.
One of the big favorites will surely be ashleigh sweet (AUS). Now fully focused on non-draft events, she took the victory at CLASH Miami, when everyone around her seemed to melt. Fourth – with the fastest run – at the solid 70.3 Oceanside was also an impressive result in a quality field. Only two outstanding races currently put her at 69th in the world – but a performance in line with either will likely see her not far from the top 10 next week. Former winner of the World Triathlon Grand Final, she is a top performer.
The swimming rhythm will be launched from the pistol, with Buckingham and Sara Perez Sala (ESP) race. The Spanish athlete has already won twice this year – Volcano Triathlon and Challenge Gran Canaria – and we know she can TT, as long as she avoids the cones…
I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a Gentle versus Pallant-Browne battle late in the race. Both excel at running, but if Gentle gains a swimming advantage, he could set up another memorable finish in Samorin. It could really test Pallant-Browne’s running speed and his recovery from Miami.
The first edition of The Championship took place in the x-Bionic sphere, in Samorin, in 2017. I remember it well, when I received a (very) late call to co-host the live coverage with Belinda Granger. Both races were really fantastic – and we’ve had plenty more since – so the same this weekend would be welcome.
Until now, you had to be both British and be called Lucy to win at least the Women’s Pro race… so no pressure on the defending champion, Lucy Buckingham and Lucy Byram, who recently finished second in Riccione !
With defending men’s champion Florian Angert (an impressive fifth at St George recently) a late withdrawal, which leaves Lucy Buckingham as the only previous winner to race on Sunday. Previous winners:
2021: Lucy Buckingham (GBR) and Florian Angert (GER)
2019: Lucy Charles-Barclay (GBR) and Sebastian Kienle (GER)
2018: Lucy Charles-Barclay (GBR) and Lionel Sanders (CAN)
2017: Lucy Charles-Barclay (GBR) and Lionel Sanders (CAN)
The swim is a one-lap, counter-clockwise, 1.9 km circuit in the Danube.
Although still flat and fast, the 90km bike course differs both from the first three editions of the race (2017-19) and last year’s route when the race was held on the same weekend as the Collins Cup.
The 21km race includes three laps totally within the x-Bionic sphere site. With lots of back and forth, turns and different surfaces underfoot, it’s a very compact course. Again, slightly different from previous years, but should still be good to watch and give athletes plenty of chances to see their competition.
Prize money: what’s at stake?
As the biggest event in the annual Challenge Family middle-distance calendar, the championship offers a significant total purse of EUR 100,000 – approx. Equivalent of $105,000.
The total funds will be disbursed in ten depths, as follows:
Of course, thanks to training from the Professional Triathlete Organization, the financial rewards for performance don’t just come from day-to-day performances.
The PTO Global Ranking will see a total of $2 million awarded at the end of 2022, based on the final ranking of these point tables. The rewards can be substantial, with moving up or down the ranking system potentially earning you more than any individual event.
As a Challenge Family event, there is also a third potential revenue stream for athletes, through the Challenge the family world bonus!
Challenge Family is offering a bonus pot of $125,000, which is paid out in the form of $25,000 / $16.5,000 / $12,000 / $6,000 / $3,000 to the top five ranked male and female athletes over the course of the Challenge Family / CLASH Endurance racing season.
This world bonus has added significance for the Samorin event, as the points for winning (400) are significantly higher than a regular middle distance event (250).