IF to missed this weekend’s live action from Hamilton Island in Queensland Australia, you may not yet know what this is about.
Basically, Super League is the brain-child of one of the greatest triathletes of all time, Chris (Macca) McCormack. a three-day invitation-only triathlon event, for the best triathletes in the world. The triathletes were selected from the WTS field, middle distance, long course, U23 and supplemented by a few notable wildcard entrants.
If you want to catch up with all the action, that culminated in the award of the $100,000 winner’s prize, follow the link here Super League Website
Without giving away all the results – and I do say ALL because there are numerous races over the three-days of racing characterized as the ‘Triple Mix’, ‘Equalizer’ and ‘Eliminator’, here are a few observations, topped with a dollop of subjective opinion.
Super League is triathlon, but not as you know it.
The disciplines aren’t always in the same order, there are only minutes between the end of one race and the commencement of the next, some races eliminate the athletes at the back of the field and ultimately, all that matters is that magic word, consistency, as accumulated points are what promote you up the points-based leaderboard.
My initial impression was… “I don’t like this” though that’s mainly due to me getting on a bit and not liking change. Rest assured though, as I began to understand the format and tactics of racing, I liked it more and more and now that the first weekend is over, I have to say I’m a fan!
Super League had been billed as doing for triathlon, what 20:20 did for cricket. That makes a lot of sense for readers in UK, India and Australia, apologies to the U.S and European readership! The intended effect was to make it shorter, faster and overall, more entertaining.
I have to say, they have entirely succeeded.
The test for me was to ask my 15-year old daughter what she thought – it was much more watchable than standard distance triathlon.
What also helps make it interesting is the quality of the commentary and pundits, fronted by Macca and Emma Frodeno (formerly Emma Snowsill and wife of Ironman World Champion Jan Frodeno), which far exceeded that offered by BBC and dare I say, even better than the online triathlon TV commentary offered by Barrie Shepley!?
What’s interesting from a performance perspective, is a little like sprint events in the WTS calendar, the results aren’t always what you’d expect. Younger athletes tend to do particularly well over shorter distances, while single discipline specialists like the best swimmer in the field, Richard Varga, had the opportunity to showcase his capability as a cyclist and runner too. World Cup series racer Kristian Blummenfelt, as the heaviest man in the field, showed that he can race shoulder to shoulder with the best in the WTS field and U23 World Champion Australian, Jake Birtwhistle indicated where the future of elite triathlon is heading.
What is clearly evident about super league is the professionalism. Each athlete wearing personalized super league tri suits, the whole run route and finish area lined with logos and of course, the prize money. There have been big-money paying events in previous seasons but with all the athletes being contracted to super league and the size and depth of the prize money making to possible for many athletes to generate an income from the sport, super league leads the way. This seems to be this is the first real move to make triathlon a professional sport and certainly presents the biggest injection of cash and the biggest change in direction for the sport since the return of Lance Armstrong (I’m still a huge fan) in his 2011 and 2012 Ironman campaign.
The only downside from this inaugural event was the obvious absence of a women’s field. Fear not though, having proven that the concept works, the girls will feature in future super league events.
Super league won’t deter me from watching every stroke, pedal turn and stride of Kona and each of the WTS events, live from start to finish but I can’t wait to see the next super league!
GI Tri Coach