Toughman's Richard Izzo looks forward to a big year

The Toughman Triathlon Series is gearing up for an exciting 2018. We caught up with founder Richard Izzo about some of the highlights we can expect this year.

| April 19, 2018 | RACES

Athletes enter the water at the 2018 Toughman Brazil race.

Athletes enter the water at the 2018 Toughman Brazil race.

Photo >Courtesy Toughman Brazil

The Toughman Triathlon Series has steadily grown over the last few years and now boasts 12 races in North and South America, 11 of which serve as qualifiers for the Toughman Championship event held in Stony Point, New York. We caught up with Toughman’s Richard Izzo to get some insight on what we can expect to see through this year’s series. For those who aren’t familiar with the Toughman series, can you tell us a bit about the philosophy and history behind the series?

Richard Izzo: We are a grass roots half-distance triathlon race that started in NY 12 years ago. As a racer myself I wanted to put on a half here because there wasn’t a race within four hours of New York City. After five years of growing Toughman and our other brand, ToughKids we decided that we would like to expand by adding local independent race directors around the US. We felt, and feel, that being under one brand has a huge advantage in all aspects of marketing and branding. Plus, we have a top-notch logistics team that can assess all aspects of a race on race weekend which adds tremendous value. When we first began in New York I hired people that were experienced to assess our plan and then made changes according  to their advice. Now we are in seven international locations as well. All feed the Toughman New York Championship that has a cash wave for qualifiers. There is also an age group race that has over $30,000 worth of awards.

You have a new title sponsor for the Toughman Championship – Morgan Stanley. What does that mean for the event?

Morgan Stanley has stepped up to be the title sponsor of the Toughman New York Championship. This gives us a new dimension – we now have one of the largest financial service companies on the planet as a partner going forward. Morgan Stanley has always been a part of our event both financially and with their employees racing, but this year they will be doing both internal and external marketing. The big video board in Times Square will be flashing our Toughman logo leading into this year’s race. The racers from Morgan Stanley will be racing for the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and have undertaken both a challenge between offices to raise money for their charity. We’ve got more partners to announce who will be part of the Morgan Stanley Corporate Challenge competition for 2018, too.

2018 is already looking to be a big year for the Toughman Series. Can you outline some of the things athletes can look forward to at Series events this year?

We are now partnered with Triathlete magazine which brings more attention to our brand and all the races in our series. The May issue has a 16-page section dedicated to Toughman. Our new travel partner, Premium Plus Sports, will handle all the international athletes that come to the Toughman Championship. This makes travel from other parts of the world to New York City seamless. And Deepak, who heads up Premium Plus Sports, is the best in this space. We just added a new Toughman Chile location for February, 2019 in Futrono (southern Chile). We will be announcing a donation to the Challenged Athletes Foundation, one of our new charity partners, where we will support 50 kids and adults racing Toughman and ToughKids New York. More charity partners will be announced soon. I am very excited for more announcements that we are currently working on that will be coming soon, too!

What other new innovations can athletes look forward to at this year’s Toughman Championship race?

Last year we had TriLive onsite producing a live broadcast. We learned a lot and making improvements to the process and content. This year it will be streamed live to multiple media outlets including Triathlete magazine,, Facebook and more. Also we are working with our timer to have more and better real time athlete tracking. Substantively the race will be top notch.

The ToughKids series has expanded this year. Can you tell us more about that?

We are adding our first international ToughKids race in Arica, Chile for June. This marks the beginning of international expansion of our kids brand. We’ll have some of the international youth from South American coming to New York for the race. This is the first step to expanding the brand internationally.