It’s official, the Barfoot & Thompson ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Auckland from 14-22 October will be the biggest ever, with just over 3000 registered to take part in official ITU age group world championship races and a further 760 in fun, participation events.
The appeal of racing on the same ground as pros triathletes, and Olympians, is seen as a major factor in building the appeal of the Auckland event for age group athletes – alongside the opportunity to grab age group world titles. Limited entries for the event are open at triauckland.co.nz.
The record numbers will begin arriving in the next week or so as athletes acclimatise to the weather and time zone before racing gets under way with the ITU World Aquathlon Championships on Wednesday 17 October, followed by the ITU Sprint and Standard Distance Age Group World Championships on Labour Day, Monday 22 October.
While much of the focus in Auckland will fall on the elite athletes as they chase vital points in their final push for the World Championship and season ending rankings, the eyes of the global triathlon community will also be very much on the age group events, with world titles and rankings on the line in five year age brackets for men and women.
Barfoot & Thompson ITU World Triathlon Grand Final CEO Dave Beeche notes that the response from around the world is testament to the course, the country and the hard work of many people.
“The response has been tremendous with entries from all around the world; it is amazing the commitment of triathletes as to how far they will travel to enjoy a great world championship, which is what we plan on delivering.”
Beeche added, “Auckland City and New Zealand can be proud of this achievement. We are of course about as far away from the rest of the world as you can get, but despite the increased challenges that distance brings, we will set a numbers benchmark for all ITU World Championship events.
“The location has played a huge part in this, with a waterfront CBD [Central Business District] race course offering a hub for all activity within walking distance of the central city hotels in a safe and welcoming environment. Athletes love the idea of arriving at their hotel and setting up camp; being within a short walk of the race venue, cafes, restaurants, shopping and nightlife has been a big part in our planning and will create a wonderful atmosphere throughout the week.”
Athletes and their supporters are coming from all around the world and not all from the obvious countries either. In total, 45 countries will be represented in Auckland in the age group events with Australia (628), Canada (320), USA (404), Great Britain (464) and Mexico (119) all bringing large teams to New Zealand.
Mexico aside, one of the biggest surprises is the 66 strong team coming from Brazil. This is well over double the number that attended the Gold Coast World Champs in 2009. And while other teams may be smaller, the presence of sole representatives or small teams from the likes of Zimbabwe, Iran, Egypt, Venezuela, Serbia and Philippines speaks to the increase in depth and popularity of the sport worldwide.
Meanwhile planning continues at a fast pace towards the week-long event, which begins with a children’s Weet-Bix Tryathlon at St Heliers on Sunday 14 October and ends with the Age Group World Championship events on Labour Day Monday.
Beeche notes that everything is on target.
“We are in the home straight so to speak, and in a very detailed stage of planning. The entire team is focused on delivering not only the biggest ever World Championship but the best ever.
“We want this experience to be a great one for everyone, from the international and domestic visitors to Auckland, the elite athletes, the large number of accredited media, our volunteers and the spectators who come to the city to see the action up close and personal.”
All details including course maps, road closures, parking, public transport and a detailed event schedule can be found at triauckland.co.nz.