The Australians invented Formula 1 triathlon and for the early years of professional involvement in swim, biker and run, those races were broadcast throughout the country and were extremely popular. The idea was simple - create a high-adrenaline form of triathlon that is over in an hour - built for the ADD generation of TV watchers. Mix in very short segments that have the intensity of a 100 yard dash, swiftly changing leaders like NASCAR races, and watch the crowds go nuts with frenzied joy.
Sadly, the Formula 1 triathlons faded from Australian prime time TV and they never took hold in the U.S. - despite a spectacular debut at Oceanside, California in 1996 and another nice effort called Super Sprint Tri GP in 2010.
Giving proof that no good idea need be abandoned forever, triathlon race directors Lars Finanger and Mitch Hall decided to throw a Formula 1 pro triathlon revival on the Saturday before their classic Superfrog half Ironman distance event. Twenty pros, including 4 Olympians, showed up on the Coronado peninsula near the Navy SEAL training grounds and battled at warp speed until the matter was decided after 43 minutes and 52 seconds.
All photos © Timothy Carlson
The elites are off and sprint into the Pacific Ocean on Coronado.
Co-race director Lars Finanger conducts a pre-race pro briefing.
Matt Reed has done F1 races before in Australia.
Nikki Butterfield helps husband Tyler Butterfield into his wetsuit.
And they're off!
Junior F1 race started before the elites
Junior competitor exits the swim.
Junior competitor runs out of the water.
Pros high step out of the surf.
Elites enter the north tunnel of the bike course.
James Hadley exits the tunnel at speed.
A string of pros exit the south tunnel.
James Hadley in transition.
Tyler Butterfield cools off mid-run.
Leon Griffin, Eric Lagerstrom and Bern Kanute finished 4th, 3rd and 6th.
Greg Billington runs under a bright Southern California sun.
Greg Billington running on lap 3, final leg.
Greg Billington made his break and has a winning margin on Eric Lagerstrom, Ben Kanute and Leon Griffin.
Podium finishers Billington, Ellice and Lagerstrom.
A bag of ice can't erase all the pain of a fall.