The 2011 Hy-Vee, Ironman World Championship 70.3 and Ironman World Championship winners will each receive an automatic invitation to all three events in 2012.
See the complete press release from WTC below and check back to Triathlete.com as we continue to cover this developing story.
World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) today announced changes and additions to the 5150 Triathlon Series. Professional WTC champions will have the opportunity for expanded automatic qualifying across three world-renowned championship events: the Hy-Vee 5150 U.S. Championship, Ironman World Championship 70.3 and Ironman World Championship. Professional athletes will also have expanded opportunities for 5150 Pro Ranking (5150 PR) points with the addition of 5150 Triathlon Series races and select Ironman 70.3 races to the qualifying schedule.
“This is a milestone for our sport,” said Andrew Messick, Chief Executive Officer of WTC. “Automatic qualifying for our champions across the three championship events will add an interesting and competitive dynamic. With this change and the additional opportunities to earn points in the 5150 PR system, we’re giving professional athletes a chance to add variety to their season and compete across different distances without compromising their qualifying opportunities. We’re excited to see how this unites athletes within the triathlon community.”
The 2011 Hy-Vee 5150 U.S. Championship, Marine Corps Ironman World Championship 70.3 and Ford Ironman World Championship professional winners will each receive an automatic invitation to all three events in 2012, provided they validate their slots. With expanded automatic qualification, world champions like Craig Alexander and Melissa Rollison will not only be invited back to the race that they conquered the previous year, but also have the opportunity to race in the 2012 Hy-Vee 5150 U.S. Championship. Likewise, Greg Bennett and Lisa Norden will now be extended an invitation to compete in Kona and Las Vegas, provided they validate their slots during the 2012 qualifying period.
“It’s encouraging to see WTC introduce this initiative with the 5150, Ironman 70.3 and Ironman champions getting the chance to race each other at these championship events,” said Greg Bennett, 2011 Hy-Vee 5150 U.S. Championship Men’s Elite Cup champion. “Over time we will see some great battles between athletes who excel in their particular arena and are getting challenged by a different distance. Bringing the best in the sport together to race each other will be brilliant for triathlon, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to race at all three championship events in 2012.”
“I’m excited to hear of the new qualifying system,” said Mirinda Carfrae, second-place finisher at the 2011 Ford Ironman World Championship and Hy-Vee 5150 U.S. Championship. “It’s an opportunity and great step by WTC to encourage the best athletes to compete at the biggest races across all distances.”
The announcement of the automatic qualifying system comes at a significant point in triathlon history – prize purses are at an all-time high. Not only is the 2012 Hy-Vee 5150 U.S. Championship professional prize purse more than $1.1 million, but WTC has now increased the professional prize purse for the Ironman World Championship 70.3 and Ironman World Championship. The total 2012 Ironman World Championship 70.3 prize purse is doubling to $200,000 and the total 2012 Ironman World Championship prize purse is increasing to $650,000.
This season, the 5150 Triathlon Series will offer several new races and WTC has designated a number of Ironman 70.3 races around the world that will count toward the 5150 PR system as well. Professional athletes will have up to five of their highest scored races count toward their 5150 PR; at least one of those races must be a 5150 Triathlon Series event and up to two of the designated Ironman 70.3 races may count toward the total. A full list including the qualifying schedule and points can be found on the Ironman Pro Membership website at Ironmanpromembership.com/hy-vee-5150-qualifying.