5 Takeaways from the weekend

Our impressions from an interesting weekend of racing that included the Xterra World Championship, Challenge Forte Village and Ironman 70.3 Austin.

| November 1, 2017 | NEWS

Vicente Hernandez is one of the many ITU stars to keep an eye on at half-distance races in the future.

Vicente Hernandez is one of the many ITU stars to keep an eye on at half-distance races in the future.

Photo >José Luis Hourcade

A couple of weeks after the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii it was time to get over the "Kona hangover" that comes from the busiest week in the sport and get back to paying attention to what's going on in the triathlon world once again. Here's our take on some of the interesting developments that came out of races from the weekend:

Xterra worlds needs to come up with $102 more prize money ...

We all know that the prize money in triathlon is a joke compared to the big money sports. (Our top prize money earner for 2017, according to the latest Challenge-Family ranking is Daniela Ryf, who has made $235,601 in 2017. Venus Williams sits atop the WTA rankings at present, having earned a cool $5,468,741.) On the weekend Flora Duffy took her fourth straight Xterra world championship. Her $20,000 check moved her total for 2017 to $235,500. Hopefully you paid enough attention to notice that's just $101 short of Ryf's total.

Possibly what's of more interest out of Duffy's additional $20,000 from the weekend is that she's now ahead of all the men when it comes to prize money in 2017 - Mario Mola leads the men's list at $221, 539. I wonder if he looks back and wishes his parents had put a tennis racket in his hands when he was a kid. His countryman Rafael Nadal leads the ATP standings this year, having earned $12,474,695.

Take cover - another ITU onslaught is coming

Ironman 70.3 Austin was the half-distance debut for Canadian Paula Findlay. In 2010 and 2011 the Canadian seemed on track to be the woman to beat at the 2012 Olympics, but got sidelined with a number of injuries over the years. While Findlay wasn't able to get passed Sarah True for the women's title, her runner-up finish bodes well for a move to longer distance racing. Findlay is particularly strong on the bike, so her move to half-distance (and eventually full-distance?) racing bodes well. True is also steadily improving on the half front. She was fourth in Chattanooga this year and will only get better as she improves her cycling. 

On the men's side of things Germany's Franz Loeschke followed up a runner-up finish at Ironman 70.3 Miami with a win in Austin. Think his future includes more half racing? Yeah, me too. Loeschke has never enjoyed that level of success on the ITU front as an individual (he was part of Germany's gold medal relay squad in Hamburg in 2013 and won a sprint Oceana Cup event in Wollongong last year).

And more on the ITU moving up front

Anyone else notice Vicente Hernandez's great race in Challenge Forte Village on the weekend? The Spaniard represented his country in Rio and finished 12th in Rotterdam. He ran 1:11 on the weekend to take the event in Sardinia over Bart Aernouts. Like so many ITU athletes he'll need to work on his cycling as he moves to the longer distance (he was three minutes slower than Aernouts on the bike), but with a run like that he's for sure the real deal.

Heather's excellent European vacation

It's been a very different year for Heather Wurtele this year as she's spent a lot more time racing in Europe and going after the Challenge European bonus, which would be worth 25,000 Euros if she can finish on top. She took Forte Village on the weekend (over a very impressive Laura Siddall who bounced back very well from her tough-day 15th Kona), which will hopefully put her in good stead in the standings. It's the first year in a few that Wurtele didn't finish on the podium at the 70.3 worlds and one wonders if this would have been her year for a top-five Kona finish with so many of the usual Kona favorites out of the picture. That said, it is great to see the Wurteles (Trevor is also in the hunt on the European standing front after a number of top Challenge finishes this year) trade their camper in for a bunch of hotels across Europe and taking in a new experience.

Outrigger Resorts Double Award goes to Hoffman ... again

Anyone know what this even is? It's the award that goes to those with the fastest combined times from the Ironman World Championship and the Xterra World Championship. Ben Hoffman took it for the third straight year, finishing with a combined time of 11:06:34, well ahead of Braden Currie, who was second in 11:29:09.

It doesn't look like there were any pro women in the hunt for the double award this year.

The top amateurs were Germany's Philipp Widmann who squeaked the title out by 50-seconds over last year's double champ Pablo Ureta from Argentina. Verena Eisenbarth won the women’s amateur double.