With over 2500 Age Group athletes participating, smiles on the faces of all the athletes and amazing battles between the absolute best athletes in the world, it’s safe to say that last weekend’s CHALLENGEDAYTONA was a huge success. On Friday, amateur athletes could team up with the professional athletes during the Pro-Am Relay. One day later, lots of age group races for the entire family were being held, ensuring more than 2500 athletes were finally able to race again. Yesterday, the event finished off with the PTO 2020 Championship, which was won by the Canadian Paula Findlay and the Norwegian Gustav Iden.
“It was amazing to see all those athletes race again”, says CHALLENGEFAMILY CEO Jort Vlam. “Especially after such a year, it is amazing to have both the best athletes in the world and lots of Age Group athletes racing in the same weekend. Bringing those two worlds together is extremely important for us. We love to organize races for the best pros in the world, but Age Groupers are at least as important to us. We love to see them all having fun.”
The main goal for CHALLENGEDAYTONA was to organise a safe event. The venue of the race, Daytona International Speedway®, was extremely important for the implementation of the COVID-19 safety policies. The event was utilizing NASCAR® protocols, who were hosting at least 20.000 fans at their last event. Vlam is impressed by the way the CHALLENGENORTH-AMERICA team implemented all measures: “I want to thank the entire team for everything they’ve done to guarantee the safety of every single athlete. It was great to see that the team thought of every single detail, ensuring the event was extremely safe.”
The athletes were also extremely happy to finally race again: “It was amazing to be out on this course, maybe even more because of these bizarre times. I’m so grateful that the organization was able to organise such an epic event while acting responsible according to the corona measures.”
For many people, the highlight of the weekend was the PTO 2020 Championship. It was the only time this year that the best athletes in the world were racing against each other. With multiple world- and olympic champions at the start line and a live coverage like never seen before, people from all over the world were watching the race. The women had the honour to kick off and their race absolutely didn’t disappoint. After an amazing race, Paula Findlay managed to defend her CHALLENGEDAYTONA title, beating the German athletes Anne Haug and Laura Phillipp. “I was so shocked. In a field like this I thought maybe a top ten would be great. I felt really good all day. It was one of those perfect days that you don’t get very often.”
In the men’s race even more world- and olympic champions were fighting for the win. Two-time olympic champion Alistair Brownlee was first off the bike, but had to step out of the race due to cramps. What followed was an amazing battle between about ten athletes fighting for the win. In the end it was Gustav Iden who showed everyone to be the strongest today, beating Matthew Hanson and George Goodwin. “I raced smart once again. I felt like I had pretty good control during the run, but on the bike I was struggling till the very end.” Last year’s winner Lionel Sanders just came seven seconds short to finish on the podium and took fourth place.