The Challenge Family announced a new half distance race in Bahrain with a very impressive $500,000 prize purse for Pros – eclipsing money offered at all other races of that distance by a massive margin.
Just a few months back World Triathlon Corporation announced an increase of their purse at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships from $200,000 to $250,000, but that is now only half of what will be offered in Bahrain a couple months later. The most money in triathlon however is still in Kona with a $650,000 bounty for twice the work at the historic and prestigious Ironman World Championships.
The first edition of Challenge Bahrain will take place on December 6th 2014, a week after Ironman Cozumel and a 70.3 event in Sydney and on the same weekend as the SunSmart Ironman Western Australia, but otherwise this time of the year is relatively quiet except for the annual early North American Christmas shopping rush.
Late last year it was rumored that Ironman might hold an event in Bahrain soon when His Highness Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa and Sheikh Khaled bin Hamad Al Khalifa competed at Ironman Florida with a big entourage in tow, but it is Challenge now who landed first in this country.
"We have very clear strategy of changing the face of long distance triathlon, as clearly stated in our core values and mission. In our discussions with the team in Bahrain, we soon discovered we shared the same vision for the future of triathlon," said Challenge CEO Zibi Szlufcik. "We want to leave a strong legacy, Bahrain wants to use the sport of triathlon as a bridge between sport and a healthy lifestyle. They want to really activate a number of programs to activate the general population and add quality to a value of life. Challenge is all about a long lasting footprint for triathlon, we are about community and deep relationships, so there was a natural evolution as we came together. They really did their research look at other groups around the world but decided to go with Challenge as we share such common goals."
After a 1.9km swim in the Bahrain Bay athletes will race their bikes 90km past several important historic and architectural monuments and eventually through the countryside to the Formula 1 racetrack. From there the 21km run goes through a wild life park past ostriches, giraffes, birds, horses, camels and oryx and finishes back at the F1 track. If that sounds somewhat familiar, the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon also has an F1 race course built into their event and is also well known for a rich purse.
“We have always been committed to host world-class sport events in The Kingdom of Bahrain in order to provide our youth and sports communities the opportunity to experience what the world has to offer at their arms reach,” said His Highness Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, President of The Supreme Council for Youth and Sports. “From Formula One to various other events, it is time for us to support one of the fastest growing sport in the world, triathlon. With open arms, we say welcome to you all to the Kingdom of Bahrain.”
The Pro purse breakdown and the Pro packages will be announced at a later date, and it was hinted that the age group athlete experience was very much on the mind of all parties involved with this new event.
"The finish will be at the F1 circuit and we will finish with amazing celebrations closing the season in style. It is not just about the race but about fun and celebrating with friends and family in a remarkable location, " added Szlufcik.
In a press release it was also announced that there are plans for a “Bahrain Triathlon City”, a unique high performance training center with altitude-controlled training facilities and accommodations plus world classing swimming, biking and running circuits, aimed at being the best in the world.