Marking a return for Challenge Family into the US market, more than 1500 athletes took part at the inaugural Challenge Daytona Powered by the Y Triathlon Festival. The event was held at Daytona International Speedway, Florida, on December 8-9.
Over the course of two days of racing, competitors saw a range of weather conditions. Clear skies and sunshine were present for Saturday’s Sprint Distance, Junior Challenge and 5K/10K events; while late morning thunderstorms ‘necessitated safety-related modifications to Sunday’s Middle Distance professional and amateur events.’
The professional race, originally slated as a Middle Distance triathlon (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run), was delayed until 12:45 ET on Sunday. It was altered to cover a 1-mile swim, 37.5-mile bike, and 8.2-mile run. The shorter distance event took place entirely within Daytona International Speedway, offering spectators – including age-group athletes who were finished with the morning’s modified amateur race – ‘unprecedented access to view the pros in the heat of competition’.
The bike course was of particular note, consisting of 15 laps around the iconic motorsports track.
The course changes and weather conditions also impacted the live tracking and timing systems during the pro race, leaving timing sensors on the bike and run courses unreadable. The organising team noted that ‘What the weather couldn’t dampen, however, was the utterly dynamic aspect of the multi-lap pro race… The energy was electric among spectators cheering on the pros as they flew past, time and time again.’
In closing the weekend’s events, Challenge Family CEO Zibi Szflucik said “As endurance sport athletes, and as endurance event organizers, it’s important to be able to adapt on the fly in the face of adversity. When we realized we would need to make changes to both the age group and professional races, our team came together and determined the safest, best experience that we could give our athletes.
“Then we got to work and delivered. We are thrilled that we could send so many competitors home with huge smiles, having accomplished a hard-earned goal. That’s really what Challenge Family racing is all about.”
The Challenge Daytona festival weekend was the first of its kind at Daytona International Speedway. The schedule of family-friendly events aimed to offer something for every level of athlete. It included Sprint and Middle Distance Triathlons, the Junior Challenge kids’ race, Relay categories, Duathlon and Aquabike events, 10K run and 5K run/walk events, and the all-new NASCAR-inspired Pitstop Challenge.
The top six male and female finishers in each Middle Distance Triathlon age group qualified for The Championship, to be held on June 2nd 2019 at the x-bionic sphere sports resort in Samorin, Slovakia.