This year’s TriStar Nevis event/Photo by Tony Tyrell
ITU and Star Production SARL, the company behind the growing TriStar event series, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Tuesday incorporating the TriStar distances into the ITU competition rules. This may seem like an unlikely partnership, but it makes sense on a number of levels.
ITU’s main goal is to grow the sport of triathlon—everywhere. Especially in places you might not think triathlon would exist. It has development programs in countries like Mauritius, Columbia and Egypt. It helped set up the Syrian Triathlon Federation a few years back. ITU wants there to be a National Triathlon Federation in pretty much every country in the world.
TriStar seems content on hosting large events in places that have never hosted triathlon before.
Why? Because that’s what the International Olympic Committee would like to see. And if you’re an International Governing Body like ITU, it’s in your best interest to please the IOC. The IOC wants to see sport—specifically Olympic sports—grow. If you can show the IOC an unlimited potential for growth, then the IOC will be more likely to do things, like, say, give your sport more medals at the Games. The more flags that are flown at the 2012 Olympic Triathlon in Hyde Park, the more likely it is that we’ll see a triathlon relay in Rio in 2016—and ITU really wants to see that (and so do I).
But I’m getting carried away. Signing a MOU with TriStar is certainly not the kicker that’s going to get triathlon more Olympic medals. But TriStar seems content on hosting large events in places that have never hosted triathlon before. On tap this year are races in Estonia, Nevis and Croatia, to name a few. ITU is very interested in seeing places like this embrace triathlon.
Also, the distances of TriStar events have international appeal (1K swim, 100K bike, 10K run or 2K swim, 200K bike and 20K run). They’re a little more straightforward than the distances of most other triathlon events. That being said, these distances give heavy favor to strong cyclists, but I suppose you could make the argument that the Ironman distance gives heavy favor to stronger runners. Either way, the swimmers aren’t getting their fare shake, but I don’t think a race with a 3K swim 80K bike and 8K run would ever catch on.
Do I think we’ll see the likes of Javier Gomez and Emma Moffatt racing TriStar events? Absolutely not. Those guys have a full enough schedule and their strength lies in draft-legal racing. But if I were an ITU athlete with a solid swim/bike combination I would look strongly at jumping in a few of the TriStar events. The prize purses aren’t half bad and who wouldn’t want to go pick up a paycheck in a place like Sardinia, Monaco or Mallorca?