Named “Best New Race of 2018” by Triathlete Magazine, the Challenge Daytona Triathlon Festival weekend at the World Center of Racing includes sprint and middle distance triathlons, a Junior Challenge kids’ race, relay categories, duathlon and aquabike events, and 5K/10K run/walk events.
Building on the success of the inaugural CHALLENGEDAYTONA triathlon in December 2018, race organizers announced the new “Daytona Distance Under the Lights” format for the 2019 professional field. Synced to happen at sunset, the event, which is exclusive to professional 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 top six male and female finishers in each Middle Distance Triathlon age group will qualify for entry to THECHAMPIONSHIP in June 2020 at the x-bionic sphere in Samorin, Slovakia.
Women’s 2018 winner Sarah Haskins summed up the 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.”
CHALLENGEFAMILY 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. Adding to the excitement at the 2019 event will be the enhanced schedule and atmosphere for athletes and spectators alike. The entire course is optimized for viewing, with opportunities for spectators to get up close and cheer for their favorite pros midway through the swim, all along the bike and run legs, and at each transition juncture.
The unique Daytona Distance Under the Lights race, exclusive to the professional field, will begin at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 14. 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 5:30 p.m., just as the Florida sun sets and the pros speed around the track.
Photo credit: José Luis Hourcade.