The biggest prize purse race of the weekend takes place in Samorin, Slovakia at Challenge Family’s The Championship.
However, when it comes to the longest event title of the weekend, then I think that the Sunbelt Bakery IRONMAN 70.3 Chattanooga North American Championship presented by Mckee A Family Bakery may claim top honors.
You might get to hear that in full quite often, but for good reason, as it is the latest of the IRONMAN 70.3 series to benefit from full broadcast coverage.
There’s plenty of interest and reason to tune in too. That the race is likely to start around the time that the action in Slovakia finishes, is another welcome bonus for triathlon viewers.
Start time and how to watch live
The race takes place on Sunday 22 May 2022.
The Pro race will start at 0650 local time (Eastern). That corresponds to 1150 in the UK and 1250 CET.
The race will be shown live, with the event the second of 11 IRONMAN 70.3 events to be broadcast in 2022 in a new partnership with Outside TV. You will be able to watch for free via web, mobile or connected TV app.
As always, the ever reliable IRONMAN Tracker is the perfect data addition to support your viewing. If you haven’t got it on your phone already, where have you been?!
The headline-grabbing name on the list is Bermuda’s Flora Duffy. The three-time and reigning World Triathlon Champion, six-time (and current) XTERRA World Champion plus Olympic and Commonwealth Games gold medallist is already one of the all-time-greats of the sport. With 11 World Championship titles already – she won the ITU Cross Triathlon Champs twice too – she doesn’t appear ready to close the achievements book just yet.
As well as the defense of that Commonwealth Games title coming up in Birmingham in late July, Duffy is perhaps setting herself up for a tilt at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship too. She’s only raced over the distance once (and won), and had hoped to race last year in St George, before the post-Olympic Games whirlwind meant that was one that she had to let go.
Despite that lack of specific experience, when you look at her skills – front pack swimmer with anyone, perhaps the best cyclist in World Triathlon racing and she closed out Tokyo with a 33-minute flat 10km – it doesn’t take a genius to work out that a fully fit Duffy is absolutely a contender for gold. This race could tick the qualification for that – but perhaps more too.
Looking ahead at the WTCS season (where she could potentially also secure an first in women’s triathlon, fourth title), there’s a huge gap between Hamburg (9-10 July) and Cagliari (7-8 October). Commonwealth Games falls right at the end of July – but that seemingly leaves the Collins Cup on 28 August 2022 as ideally placed in the season.
Flora has no PTO Ranking points right now, and is highly unlikely to auto-qualify due to her other commitments… but if she wins / performs well in Chattanooga, then you can pretty much bet your house on the fact that Craig Alexander and Erin Baker will be offering her one of the two Captain’s Picks for Team Internationals. Team USA (as I predicted), took a similar approach last year for both Taylor Knibb and Katie Zaferes with notable success.
The race is far from one star name however. Paula Findlay (CAN) is currently the PTO’s #10, and when on top form – such as the PTO 2020 Championship and IRONMAN 70.3 California 2021 – is very tough to beat.
Great Britain’s Holly Lawrencethe 2016 World Champion is on the start list, and fingers crossed to her that the impacts of a bike crash which ruled her out of the PTO PRO-AM event, aren’t still around to get in the way of her performing on Sunday .
Also racing is Jackie Hering (USA), who finished fifth earlier in the season at IRONMAN 70.3 Oceanside, behind Lawrence in third, but ahead of Findlay (sixth).
Keep an eye on Tamara Jewett. The Canadian is an incredible runner – ranked above even Anne Haug on the PTO’s stats – and is likely to make significant moves on the final discipline. Still early in her triathlon career, it will be interesting to see how she goes in her first triathlon on the season.
Reflecting back on that great race at IRONMAN 70.3 Oceanside in early April, we have 1st (Jackson Laundry (CAN)), 3rd (Rudy Von Berg (USA)), 5th (Ben Kanute (USA)), 6th (Jason West (USA)) and 8th (Eric Lagerstrom (USA)), all lining up.
Although he was fifth at the 2021 World Champs and had plenty of wins and podiums already on his CV, Oceanside still felt like a real breakthrough performance from Laundry. If he can repeat that, well, he’ll truly have arrived.
When there’s a Regional Championship title involved, looking past Rudy Von Berg for top spot is not typically a good move. Strong across all three disciplines, he rarely misses the podium, and with the Oceanside sprint finish with Lionel Sanders showing that he is seemingly over his health issues in 2021, I think he’ll be even better here and my favorite for the win.
The event will also see the middle distance return of Tim O’Donnellfollowing his huge heart scare after Challenge Miami 2021. Out best wishes for a safe and healthy race to one of the true gentlemen of the sport.
The final name I’ll give you is Steven McKenna (AUS). Currently ‘only’ #66 in the PTO Rankings, that’s not a true reflection of his abilities and potential. He could be in the mix.
You can click here for the full start list.
Prize Money: What’s on the line?
The prize purse on offer this weekend is $75,000 – with each of the winners collecting a $12,000 share of that total.
In addition to money, there will be a total of eight qualifying slots (four MPRO / four FPRO) for the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in St George, October 28-29 2022.
The total funds will be paid ten-deep, as follows:
Of course, thanks to the formation of the Professional Triathletes Organisation, financial rewards from performance are not only from on-the-day performances.
The PTO World Rankings will see a total of $2million awarded at the end of 2022, based up on the final standings in those points tables. The rewards there can be substantial, with a move up or down the rankings system potentially earning you more than any individual event.