After two days of racing, Katie Zaferes and Kristian Blummenfelt stood atop the podium at Super League Jersey, triumphant over a field of 50 world-class athletes including Olympic medalists and World champions.
Showing versatility, smart tactics, explosive speed, and killer instinct, the two athletes solidified their win on Day 2 after having won Day 1’s racing. As a result, both earned the maximum 50 points to top the overall leaderboard and take away the title and top prize of $18,000.
While Richard Murray had ended Day 1 as runner-up with Jonathan Brownlee in third place, Day 2 saw Brownlee finish the racing in second. With their total points tied, the result from the second race served as a tiebreaker to put the dual Olympic medalist atop the Super League Hamilton Island champion in final rankings.
The same happened on the women’s podium as Nicola Spirig was bumped down to third place by hard-charging Summer Cook, who raced ahead in the final race of Day 2 to finish second to Zaferes.
After having raced many of the same women the previous weekend, Zaferes knew not to underestimate anyone. She said, “I never knew what people had left in the tank or what strategies they were playing. It's hard not to consider everyone a threat but as the races went on I thought Nicola, the USA women and the Brits were going to be the most difficult to beat. It's pretty awesome having a two time Olympic medalist as one of your competitors. Also I feel like it was well balanced in that there were athletes who are super strong swimmers, great cyclists and also really fast runners. It made for an exciting race as no one could ever be counted out!”
With the previous results from Hamilton Island, the field knew to look out for defending champion Murray. He named runner-up Mario Mola who had defended his world title just a week earlier and third-placed Jake Birtwhistle as the major threats to his title defense.
However, Blummenfelt was one to watch out for, having won the first two of three stages of the Eliminator on Hamilton Island. He had also had a better season than Murray, ranking third in the world. His runner-up finish in Rotterdam had bumped Murray down to fourth.
Corporate Mix a big success
Pro and amateur racing over the weekend dovetailed in the new Corporate Mix division. The Corporate Mix overall win relied on the total of a team’s points garnered from their relay finish positions and the points from their pro male and female athletes’ finish positions.
With a total of 17 teams from nine corporate entities on the start list, every morning of each day of racing allowed athletes on each team to match themselves up with fellow highly motivated and competitive individuals. They also partook in special corporate hospitality packages and exclusive opportunities to interact with the championship athletes, ensuring a memorable and inspirational experience for all.
“To be invited to race the corporate mix and be part of the weekend has been out of this world,” said Adrian O’Brien, a member of the MaccaNOW Foundation corporate relay. “I cannot wait to watch the highlights show. Triathletes race and party hard. Meeting so many down-to-earth people, relaxing and racing with friends and helping each other -- the whole island got behind this event.”
Team Comprop won the Corporate Mix with 98 points, boosted by Blummenfelt’s 50 points. First Names Group Team 2 benefited from Katie Zaferes’ 50 points from the twin wins in the Triple Mix and Eliminator, ending up in second with 81 points. The Ravenscroft Titans placed third with 61 points, propped up by their relay team’s great finishes.
Super League Triathlon gives back to Jersey
In the lead-up to the weekend’s racing, Super League Triathlon athletes also spent time with the Jersey Triathlon Club and its junior athletes to conduct drills, teach skills, answer questions, and inspire all to continue chasing their triathlon dreams.
“I love the way that Super League Triathlon immerses the professionals into the local community and introduced us to the young athletes. I think it was awesome that there was so much involvement with the Jersey triathlon community,” said Zaferes. Her compatriot Cook offered, “I think events like Super League Jersey are a great way to get kids to take up triathlon. In Jersey, kids had ample opportunity to meet some of their sporting heroes and ask questions about the sport!”
Spirig knows the positive effect of giving children the opportunity to meet professional athletes very well, since she runs her own series of kids’ races in Switzerland. “I try to personally be at as many of those races as possible. I think giving the kids the opportunity to meet professional athletes, to have idols and role models, to see us racing and to have the opportunity to train and race themselves is very important.”
Murray commented, “Winning is great but being out inspiring the youth is also great.” Blummenfelt spoke about the importance of having fun in training. “If they only find joy in racing, and not training, then they will realize its not worth it, and they will quit,” he said.
Jersey rolled out the red carpet for Super League Triathlon
Athletes were all praises for the organization of the weekend’s races. “I think being such a new event it has been organized exceptionally well,” commented Spirig. “You could see that there was a very professional team doing the job, but at the same time you could feel that the volunteers and the Jersey Triathlon Club were completely behind the race and doing everything to make it a success.”
Zaferes commented, “The Jersey course was technically demanding which made for an interesting race, and even more exciting when the rainy weather added another element.”
Blummenfelt took note of how the local partners put together the event on its first try. “Normally it takes years to build up an event at this level.” He was also impressed by the way the whole island of Jersey supported the event.
Thousands of Jersey locals as well as tourists alike lined the bike and run routes to spectate not just on Day 1 with its perfect weather, but also on Day 2 despite the stormy conditions. It was unlike anything yet seen in Jersey.
Cook said, “The people of Jersey were so welcoming and came out in masses to the races, even when it rained on Sunday! It was so much fun to race in front of such a large crowd!”
Super League Triathlon co-founders were very pleased at how the second event had turned out. Chris McCormack said, “I thought the event was marvelous: the course, the crowd, the venue, and the community support.”
Leonid Boguslavsky commented, “It has over-achieved our expectations, and we are very excited to show what we have in store for the rest of the season.”
Michael d’Hulst added, “Super League Jersey is a great foundation to keep building on for the future events in Jersey and make Jersey part of our yearly calendar.”
Future plans for Super League Triathlon
As Super League Jersey has wrapped up, the questions now turn to future plans for Super League Triathlon.
Boguslavsky revealed, “We are considering several opportunities and we will make decisions shortly. Since it’s the first season for us it’s an ad hoc approach. We are already putting agreements in place that make sure that all venues for Season One are long-term commitments and will be part of future seasons. We are planning to have between five and seven Super League Triathlon events per season.”
Super League Triathlon is also working with its media partner Lagardere Sports to grow its distribution and audiences globally. “We already have partnerships with ESPN, Sky, and Eurosport,” said McCormack.
d’Hulst added, “We grew our presence in China, and added three channels to the live coverage. And very important is the reach we will achieve with our post-produced documentary which is very accessible to a wider audience.”
The athletes will be back as well. “I, for sure, would love to take part in more Super League Triathlon events,” said Zaferes.
“I want to support Super League Triathlon as they continue to set the pace on how to showcase our sport,” added Cook.
Spirig shares the sentiment. She said, “We have a similar race in Switzerland and I always found the different formats and the short distances very attractive for both, spectators and athletes. I think it’s great to now have a professional, international series in such a format and will definitely try to do more of the events.”
Blummenfelt added, “I can't wait to find out where the next location will be. I know that the Super League Triathlon crew are looking for another spectacular venue for their next event, and it will be good for both spectators, TV and us athletes.”
Murray opined, “I believe it will be the go-to distance in the future.”
Competing in further events in the series will also reward the athletes financially as well as in other ways. d’Hulst revealed, “Jersey was the first round of the official series and Super League Triathlon’s focus will be on a bonus for the series. The individual events are aligned with the WTS and the bonus structure will be Super League Triathlon’s unique selling point. Additionally, we are working on further rewards outside of race wins to promote competitiveness and audience interaction.
“Our commitment to investing in professional triathletes is strong and a key pillar of our brand. This starts with taking care of our athletes at venues, providing different financial rewards targeting not only the winner of events, but obviously focused on the commitment to our series!”