The man arguably responsible for launching more age group triathlon careers than anyone else and one of the longest serving race directors in Australia is David Hansen of SuperSprint Events. Based in Melbourne Hansen, along with wife Penny and a great team of dedicated and experienced people, run most of Victoria’s triathlons including the Gatorade Triathlon Series. In addition they have the Nissan Corporate Triathlon Series around Australia. More people have been introduced to triathlon through this event than any other. SuperSprint also runs cycling classics, fun runs etc.
In addition to their current event portfolio SuperSprint organised the 2000 Olympic Triathlon, 6 ITU Triathlon World Cups leading up to the Olympics, brought 3 ITU Triathlon Cups to Geelong, staged 5 UCI Women’s Road Cycling World Cups in Geelong, over 10 Australian Championships , Singapore and Fiji Triathlons and more…
For many people outside Victoria and ‘newer’ triathletes SuperSprint will be a company they may know through the corporate triathlon series but most will not know the history behind the company and owners David and Penny. Established in 1986 the Hansen’s are true pioneers in our sport. They have a passion for triathlon and have grown the company over 25 years. Branching out in to other sports such as cycling and running has been a natural expansion for the company.
Securing the Challenge brand for Victoria will give SuperSprint the ability to build on their very strong portfolio of events and compete with other major event companies and brands in our sport in the long distance arena.
The first Challenge event for SuperSprint sold out in one week and the team at are buzzing with what will be their marque triathlon.
We caught up with David Hansen to discuss this exciting new event and find out how some of the challenges will be approached.
TriZone: Congratulations on the launch of Challenge Melbourne and the sell out of the event. This must be an exciting time for SuperSprint.
David Hansen: Yes it was great to get both the event in Melbourne ( our back yard) and the Challenge brand together to provide an exciting event for all the triathletes who have supported our events over the years and for all those from interstate and overseas.
TriZone: What does securing the Challenge brand mean for SuperSprint?
David Hansen: I was always aware of the popularity and success of Roth and in particular when it started with the Challenge brand. Over the last 12 months, I had heard about Felix and what the brand stood for! This is looking after the athletes so it is a brand that has the same philosophies and values SuperSprint has, so to work with them is great!
We also haven’t staged a high profile event for several years so we are really looking forward to delivering a high standard event for all the athletes.
TZ: Does Super Sprint have a license to produce this event or is Challenge Family appointing Super Sprint to manage and run the event?
David: We have a 5 year license to use their brand in Victoria.
TZ: How long did you work with Challenge Family before you could announce the launch of this event?
David: About 3 months with Marcus Altmann and then I met Felix and Victoria the day before the launch.
TZ: Was it always going to happen once you started talks with Challenge Family or were there some stumbling blocks?
David: It was always going to happen but along the way you always have some beliefs that may not be shared that get resolved. At the end of the day you both have the same objectives to see a successful event for all parties including the athletes.
TZ: Are there plans at any stage to hold a full iron distance Challenge triathlon in Victoria?
David: No. I think Victoria is at near capacity for triathlons.
TZ: How difficult was it to get full closure of Beach Road for the 15kms?
David: It is very difficult because the impact it has on so many stakeholders from residents, businesses, yacht and lifesaving clubs to motorists and recreational cyclists. We have to reopen Beach Rd at 11.00am and hence the 6.15am race start.
TZ: We are impressed with the format of the race with the multiple lap bike and run course. In its longer format triathlon is not quite an ‘on the edge of your seat’ spectator sport. With the three bike and run laps family, friends and spectators will get to see the athletes many times. This should provide a more exciting atmosphere especially with the pro category.
TZ: With SuperSprint’s experience managing events like the Nissan Corporate Triathlons and we are sure you have a cunning plan for this event. What are your plans to manage the flow of athletes to keep the bike course, in particular, as clear as possible and avoid large packs forming?
David: We are used to having big numbers on the road with many of our Gatorade Triathlon Series races having 2 laps of a 10km bike course with up to 1,500 on the course at anyone time. The TO’s do a reasonably good job managing that but I think with less numbers on a 30km loop it will be even better managed.
The key is to have good TO’s that are strict but fair! Within the first week of the event launch, we commenced discussions with a number of TO’s and Triathlon Victoria about the option of pulling over any packs that may form and letting them go off at 10 sec intervals and they still have to serve a time penalty as well.
I think it also helps greatly when athletes assist in the policing by pointing out to other athletes that drafting is cheating. It is disappointing when some athletes see it as part of their race strategy to get a good time.
TZ: Will the pros have a relatively free passage on the bike and run?
David: Yes. I believe so. We are lucky that Beach Rd is 4 lanes and a clearway in the mornings so no parked cars will be on the course. The run paths are relatively wide for most points of the run course as well to allow easy passing.
TZ: Will the race be broadcast live online and later on Australian television?
David: Yes it is the plan but there is a lot of work to do with sponsors to make this happen.
TZ: We have to ask… Was this pay back to USM for putting the Geelong Long Course onto your Falls Creek Australian Championship weekend in 2012?
David: No, not at all. This was about an opportunity to use one of our established event weekends to see that we received some benefit from Ironman being staged in Melbourne. In the past 2 years all we have seen is our numbers drop in our local races as so many of our competitors we have brought into the sport have taken the opportunity to race Ironman Melbourne. I think is great for the athlete to race in their hometown and be supported by their family, friends and work colleagues for what is a significant achievement.
Long course is more popular now and we have received so much support from our athletes for the Challenge Melbourne event so in many ways it is meeting a demand for what they want.
If you want to go into USM taking our Geelong event which was our flagship event for 21 years, that is another story!
TZ: Can I ask you about that at another time?
David: Yeah, no problem
TZ: What will the professional prize purse be?
David: $25,000 Euro or about $32,000
TZ: Have you secured any professional triathletes for the race as yet?
David: Chris McCormack and Belinda Granger are ambassadors for Challenge and it is great to have them race. It will be a strong elite field. The last time Macca raced in one of our events was back in 2000 in the Test event for the Olympic Games.
It was great to catch up with him at the launch after so many years and what a credit and great ambassador he has been to the Sport and his sponsors. I don’t think triathlon has ever seen such a marketable person who has achieved so much in the Sport. I just have to take him surfing at Bells or Winki after the event and I’m sure Clayton Fettell who is also racing will probably want to join us as well! It will be a strong elite field.
TriZone: Thanks for your time David. We look forward to seeing the event first hand in 2014.