CHALLENGEMIAMI® 2021 is set for this Friday with some of triathlon’s best going head-to-head on the Homestead-Miami Speedway for a slice of the $50,000 prize purse.
Following the spectacular racing at the PTO 2020 Championship at CHALLENGEDAYTONA® last December, CHALLENGEMIAMI® boasts an incredible field including both reigning Ironman World Champions, Anne Haug and Jan Frodeno.
RACE INFORMATION – WHAT’S THE LOWDOWN?
Date: Friday 12 March
Location: Homestead-Miami Speedway, Florida USA
Time: 18:00 GMT
Prize Money: $50,000 – pays 10 deep $6,600 to $1000
Format: 1.6km swim, 62.7km bike, 16.9km run
Course: Lake swim, flat bike, flat run
Skye Moench (PTO #9) / Heather Jackson (PTO #13) / Jackie Hering (PTO #20) / Meredith Kessler (PTO #25) / Lesley Smith (PTO #34)
Ben Hoffman (PTO #6) / Rudy von Berg (PTO #8) / Matt Hanson (PTO #9) / Timothy O’Donnell (PTO #13) / Chris Leiferman (PTO #14) / Andrew Starykowicz (PTO #34) / Ben Kanute (PTO #47)
THE BIG STORIES
With many other races postponed or cancelled, CHALLENGEMIAMI® has drawn in some top talent for both the women’s and men’s races. Here’s what to look out for in Florida.
After being absent in Daytona 2020, we expect to see Lucy Charles-Barclay (PTO #2) take the swim out fast. The question isn’t if the Brit will lead out the water, but by how much. As Charles-Barclay storms into T1, the clock will start ticking to see what deficit Daytona winner Paula Findlay (PTO #8) will need to make up to get to the front. If we’re lucky, we’ll get an action-packed repeat of their duel at CHALLENGEDAYTONA® 2019 – and perhaps even a sequel at the Collins Cup in August.
No matter what lead the frontrunners take into the final discipline, everyone will be watching the fleet feet of Anne Haug (PTO #5). If the Kona-winning German can steer clear of a time penalty like the one she suffered in Daytona, there’s every chance she can make it a nail-biter as she eats into the advantage – and confidence – of whoever’s ahead of her. Will she storm to the front or run out of road? That’s the big question.
While the men’s roster is absolutely packed with talent, fans of pro triathlon have been waiting (and waiting) for one particular battle: three-time Hawaii champ Jan Frodeno (PTO #1) versus sufferer-in-chief Lionel Sanders (PTO #5). The latter has made no secret of his desire to go up against Frodo at the Collins Cup, so if Sanders can get within striking distance of the German, there’s no doubt the Canadian will turn himself inside out to cross the line first.
KEEP AN EYE ON
The top four ranked male and female athletes from the USA, Europe and Internationals regions gain automatic Collins Cup selection and several USA athletes are on the cusp. Heather Jackson (PTO #13), Jackie Hering (PTO #20) and Meredith Kessler (PTO #25) are all within 10 points of a provisional spot on Team USA while only top-ranked US athlete Skye Moench (PTO #9) is racing in Miami.
Things are even closer on the men’s side too with Chris Leiferman (PTO #14), Sam Long (PTO #24) and Andrew Starykowicz just five points shy. However, all these athletes are also racing the current top-four from Team USA: Ben Hoffman (PTO #6), Rudy von Berg (PTO #8), Matt Hanson (PTO #9) and Timothy O’Donnell (PTO #13) – all of whom will be gunning for the podium and top American in Miami.
UP AND COMING
While they might not be household names yet, keep an eye out for Fenella Langridge (PTO #35), who was seventh at CHALLENGEDAYTONA®, and Alissa Doehla (PTO #50), a pro-runner-turned triathlete whose records include 15:28 for 5k, 32:14 for 10km and 2:31:56 for the marathon.
On the men’s side, don’t be surprised to see Thomas Davis (PTO #36) at the pointy end after his 12th place finish in Daytona. Let’s also not forget Pablo Dapena (PTO #19), who went toe-to-toe with Sanders at CHALLENGEDAYTONA® 2019.
WHAT THE PROS SAY
Anne Haug on expectations for Challenge Miami:
“The older I get the more I try to let go on expectations and racing for the outcome, but [instead] concentrate on my best performance possible on race day… And that’s exactly what I will do on Friday. As soon as the gun goes, I will dig as deep as I possibly can, control the controllable, and see what the day holds for me.”
Paula Findlay on how Miami will set things up for the rest of the season
“I know that every race this year is important for Collins Cup selection, so I’m going to make the most of it… I know I can be a contender, and it’s awesome that there is such a strong field here to truly test myself.”
Rudy von Berg on earning his place for Team USA:
“I’ll show I’m one to pick by beating everyone there, American or not. The focus is really just to win the race and give the best out of myself and the rest will take care of itself.”
Fenella Langridge on catching the eye of Collins Cup team captains:
“Simple answer… continue to race hard, fast and with passion at any given opportunity! The European field is strong but I know, and the selectors should know, that I’m good enough and fast enough to compete against the best on any given day… the bigger the race the faster I become!”
Matt Hanson on how is race in Daytona will affect race tactics in Miami:
“If anything, it reinforced that the race plan I had at Challenge Daytona was the right plan for me. Up until earlier this week, I was planning on heading into Miami with the exact same approach. However, the change from a 20m draft back to a 12m draft on the bike that was announced earlier this week might throw a wrench into that plan. That change makes the race tactics on the bike much more important as the benefit you get by riding at 12m at the speeds we will be going on a closed course is quite large.”