Couples goals: New championship offers $100k top prize

Triathlon is a sport that isn’t afraid of innovation and here’s one that will likely get people talking, whether you like the idea or not – the Couples Championship.

The event landscape in recent years is one example of trying out new approaches, with the likes of Super League Triathlon, The Collins Cup and the addition of Mixed Relay Triathlon at the Olympic Games, just a few of the many variants which have become part of the racing landscape.

Just this past week, World Triathlon – in partnership with Super League, announced plans for the introduction of an Esports World Championship status to the Arena Games Triathlon format.

That was followed this week by the latest event wrinkle in swim/bike/run – the Couples Championship.

Scheduled for March 6, 2022 and title-sponsored by Waterfall Bank based in Clearwater, Florida, the concept is for “pro triathletes in a relationship for 6 months or longer” to race together in what seems to be a hybrid enduro/relay format:

Partner 1 – Swim .25 miles Bike 10 miles Run 3.1 milesPartner 2 – Swim .25 miles Bike 10 miles Run 3.1 milesPartner 1 – Swim .25 miles Bike 10 miles Run 3.1 milesPartner 2 – Swim .25 miles Bike 10 miles Run 3.1 miles

The first thing you need to know (before you decide which side of the Marmite divide your views fall on this as a concept…), is that the advertised first prize is $100,000.

That’s $50,000 each – the same as for the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship.

That alone – particularly if you happen to be in with a chance of winning – makes this financially significant.

Who’s racing?

There’s more information on the event website regarding ‘the couples’, but over a super sprint distance format, raced twice each, you would have to make Vincent Luis and Taylor Spivey the strong odds-on early favourites of those listed.

Bigger picture

Putting the event itself to one side, there is – hopefully – a more important aspect for sport as a whole here.

Waterfall Bank (which is actually a very new bank, set up by Waterfall Capital Investments), is seemingly seeing promotion of its services via the route of triathlon as an appropriate marketing investment.

Its investment is also, in triathlon terms, sizeable. How significant I’ve no idea, but I’m going to make an assumption that this won’t be a winner-takes-all event, with perhaps further incentives to those attending too. And that’s before even considering the staging of the event.

Off the back of the (ongoing) pandemic, access to sponsorship for anything, including sport, is not the easiest market. For years (decades…), the triathlon demographic has been put forward as a highly valuable one for potential advertisers (and Waterfall Bank bank will even offer you a triathlon-branded debit card!).

In a world in which recently paid $700 million for the naming rights to a sports arena in Los Angeles, there is still financial markets money around seeking the right sporting outlets to invest in.

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