A new era of triathlon in the United States began today with the Challenge Family’s announcement of the team behind its first ultra distance triathlon in the USA.
Set to take place in late June 2014 in the Mid-Atlantic region, the inaugural Challenge USA will deliver Challenge Family’s unique style of race experience under the leadership of one of the country’s most respected race directors in a yet-to-be-revealed iconic destination.
Robert “Vigo” Vigorito is the 2013 USA Triathlon Life-Time Achievement Award winner for his significant contributions to triathlon. Many acknowledge Vigorito as responsible for taking the triathlon experience east of the Mississippi River. Back in 1984 he founded the Columbia Triathlon Association that has inspired thousands of triathletes and he is genuinely thrilled to be able to add another legendary event to his distinguished career.
“We will announce the details of this first race at a media conference in mid-September and you can be certain it’s going to be one very exciting and memorable event “the course is flat and fast! The swim is sheltered, the bike incorporates state forests, vineyards and classic downtown Americana while the run is all about the ocean, and spectators… lots of them!,” said Vigorito. “Further, having witnessed Challenge Roth first-hand, I fully support their philosophy, and know that it aligns perfectly with my own. The athlete experience, the community involvement, and giving back – never take more than you give.”
Vigorito has partnered with respected Mid Atlantic race director, Stephen Del Monte of DelMoSports who shares the same respect and reputation among athletes as someone committed to them as individuals and providing the ultimate race experience. With a number of successful events behind him, Del Monte is excited about bringing and producing the first global series event to the Mid-Atlantic region.
“Challenge Family racing represents everything I love about triathlon,” said Del Monte. “The most important aspect to any event is the care and detail paid to the athlete and to illustrate the love we have for our athletes we allow them to share the moment with their families and friends. We have always believed crossing the finish line is not only a celebration for the individual, but for family and friends who have helped make dreams a reality. When you can bring that level of emotion to a community, you can’t help but positively affect the lives of everyone involved. This is the true meaning of triathlon.”
Both Vigorito’s and Del Monte’s commitment to the sport and the athletes mirrors the ethos behind the Challenge Family which is renowned throughout the world for its athlete-first approach. The powerhouse of triathlon in Europe, the series’ flagship event, DATEV Challenge Roth is the largest long distance triathlon in the world attracting over 5,500 athletes and 230,000 spectators. It is home to both world records “Andreas Raelert in 7:41:33 and Chrissie Wellington in 8:18:13 – with Chrissie calling it “one of the oldest and simply the best triathlon race in the world!” Each year, all 5,500 slots sell out in less than 15 minutes.
Challenge Roth and Challenge Family are both headed by the WalchshÃ¶fer family, brother and sister team Felix and Kathrin, along with mother Alice and previously, their late father Herbert.
“As a family run business we’re not answerable to third parties who are focused on the bottom line rather than the personal experience. We are answerable to the athletes. If we don’t exceed their expectations we’re not working hard enough,” said Challenge Family CEO, Felix WalchshÃ¶fer. “This sport is our life, our athletes are our extended family. We respect the legacy of triathlon just as we are committed to its future.”
WalchshÃ¶fer said he was delighted the time had arrived to bring the Challenge Family to the USA and could not have hoped for better partners than Vigorito and Del Monte.
“Challenge Family races are renowned for their unique race experiences, strong community support and creating a very special athlete experience, whether a pro or age grouper. We invest literally and emotionally in being an integral part of the athletes’ journey, from the time they make the decision to race with us to the time we personally welcome them across the finish line. Each year, hundreds of Americans cross the Atlantic to be part of this experience and now they can enjoy it at home,” said WalchshÃ¶fer. “We have found a team that shares our values. Like them we are driven by quality. We don’t see overselling fields as an indicator of success. We base success on strong fields that are the right size for the course and give the best possible race experience. I have a huge amount of respect for Vigo and Stephen and what they have achieved and I feel honoured to have them as part of this exciting journey.”
The announcement of Challenge Family’s entry into the USA comes just three weeks after its successful North American launch in Canada with the inaugural Challenge Penticton, which also saw the introduction of relay teams competing over the ultra distance.
“We want to share our passion for triathlon with as many as possible and relay teams are a fantastic way to introduce new people to triathlon. They can experience the magic of ultra distance racing at a more achievable level and not surprisingly many become inspired to go on to complete the distance as an individual,” said WalchshÃ¶fer.
Over 40,000 athletes currently race at 21 Challenge Family events around the world in countries including New Zealand, Australia, Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, Canada and throughout Europe and the UK. One of these is Challenge Family ambassador and four times world champion, Chris ‘Macca’ McCormack.
The partnership between Macca and Challenge was born out of a mutual desire to deliver a powerful legacy for the sport that returned the focus to the athletes, delivering a premium race experience at every level with a commitment to building the sport from the grass roots up as well as establishing sustainable relationships at the pro athlete level.
“I’m beyond excited that finally Americans will soon be able to enjoy Challenge on their home soil,” he said. “I love what Challenge is, I love their DNA and core values which exactly echo my hopes for the future of the sport, embracing its history, its lifestyle and the people who participate. In the end, it is the family involvement, healthy activity and the desire to play and have fun in multisport. Now’s the time to make triathlon history in the USA, and you can be a part of it “I personally look forward to seeing you there!”