'Daytona Under the Lights' Pro Tri Event to be Hosted at Challenge Daytona
12 Nov, 2019
The 2019 Challenge Daytona triathlon has unveiled a new ‘Daytona Distance Under the Lights’ format for the professional field. The event, which is exclusive to pro athletes, will be highlighted by a 15-lap (37.5-mile) bike course and 8.2-mile run course taking place under the lights of the track at Daytona International Speedway. The race is scheduled to coincide with sunset on Saturday during the Challenge Daytona Triathlon Festival weekend.
The unique Daytona Distance Under the Lights pro race will begin at 16:30 ET on Saturday, December 14th. The organisers note that the start time provides prime viewing for age group athletes competing in either Saturday’s Sprint Distance events or Sunday’s Middle Distance events.
The late start is also designed to create an ‘unprecedented sensory experience’, as the lights at Daytona International Speedway – normally reserved solely for NASCAR racing, sports cars and Supercross – will flood the track at 17:30, just as the Florida sun sets and the pros speed around the track.
At the inaugural 2018 event, named ‘Best New Race of 2018’ by Triathlete Magazine, mid-morning thunderstorms led to modifications to the professional and amateur races on the final day of competition.
The amateurs tackled a shortened course early on Sunday morning, while the pros sat tight, awaiting an afternoon start. Organizers and elite athletes conferred on the best possible revised race format. The pros suggested a 1-mile swim, 37.5-mile bike, and 8.2-mile run, and organizers supported the recommendation.
Finally, the weather subsided and the world’s finest were able to test their mettle on the revised course, contained completely within the Daytona International Speedway complex. The changes enabled spectators an unexpected benefit: the ability to witness the entire pro race from numerous different vantage points.
Women’s winner Sarah Haskins summed up the 2018 race experience, saying, “I’ve been racing for 15 years and this is truly one of the coolest experiences I have ever had racing. The venue, the organizers, the volunteers, the fans – just incredible.”
Challenge Family CEO Zibi Szflucik was among the spectators cheering from the inside edge of the track as the world’s top professionals flew by on the bike, lap after lap. “To see such intense racing action so close-up, and to witness every attack and change in leadership from a front-row vantage point is unheard of in triathlon. Normally you catch a glimpse of the riders two or three times if you’re lucky. Here, with the new Daytona Distance format, you see each rider 15 times.”
The now-official Daytona Distance Under the Lights professional race format will include a two-lap, 1-mile swim; a 15-lap, 37.5-mile bike; and an 8.2-mile run – all within the Daytona International Speedway property.
The entire course is optimized for viewing, with opportunities for spectators to get up close and cheer for their favourite pros midway through the swim, all along the bike and run legs, and at each transition juncture.
Local triathlete Bill Christy, CEO at Cognitive Kinetics and Executive Producer of Challenge Daytona, was instrumental in securing the opportunity to race under the lights at the track. He said, “I’ve been watching the excitement of cars racing under the lights for years. It’s time we give our pro triathletes the same electric experience.”
Professional athletes interested in securing a start position at the 2019 Challenge Daytona Daytona Distance Under the Lights are invited to contact Belinda Granger, Challenge Family Professional Athlete Liaison via Belinda[at]challenge-family.com.
Age group athletes can participate in a variety of other events offered at Challenge Daytona – including Sprint and Middle Distance Triathlons, the Junior Challenge kids’ race, Relay categories, Duathlon and Aquabike events, and 5K/10K run/walk events.
The top six male and female finishers in each Middle Distance Triathlon age group will qualify for entry in the 2020 edition of The Championship, to be held in June 2020 at the x-bionic sphere resort in Samorin, Slovakia.