World Triathlon and the Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO) have announced a new partnership that will recognise the PTO Tour as the official World Championship Tour of long-distance triathlon, using the ‘made for TV’ 100km distance.
The ground-breaking agreement will see the two organisations working closely to create a compelling season-long narrative for the world’s leading triathletes, as the long-distance equivalent of World Triathlon’s successful World Triathlon Championship Series, that will include championship racing opportunities for both Professionals and Age Groupers.
The key points of the new partnership include:
- A points-based competition with Professional men’s and women’s World Championship titles awarded at the end of a season-long tour, as well as the planned creation of up to five Continental Championships at one-off races, including: the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania.
- All events as non-drafting over the 100km distance (2km Swim, 80km Bike, 18km Run) and operating under World Triathlon rules.
- Qualification for the Age Group Championships to follow the existing World Triathlon process of National Federations’ selection, with Age Groupers eligible to race in each of the six Championship events, including World and the five Continental Championships.
- World Triathlon working together with the PTO and its membership on a number of services, including Anti-Doping, Competition Jury appeals, Safeguarding and Manipulation of sport competition guidelines, Technical support with a Technical Delegate from World Triathlon at all events and an extensive Marketing and Commercial collaboration between both organisations.
Commenting on the partnership, World Triathlon President, Marisol Casado, said, “Today marks a significant milestone as World Triathlon proudly announces this ground-breaking agreement with the PTO. This collaboration signifies a powerful alliance that underscores our shared commitment to elevating the sport of triathlon to new heights. By joining forces, we harness the collective passion, expertise and dedication of both organisations to drive positive change and innovation within the triathlon community. Together, we have the opportunity to create a more inclusive, fair, competitive and sustainable landscape for athletes, fans and stakeholders alike. This partnership exemplifies the immense potential that emerges when organisations align their visions and resources, ultimately fostering a thriving environment for the sport we all cherish. As we embark on this journey together, we are resolute in our belief that by working hand in hand, we can steer triathlon towards a brighter, more exciting future.”
PTO Executive Chairman, Chris Kermode, who has previously held a number of leadership positions in tennis, rising to the role of Executive Chairman and President of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), said, “When new formats and organisations emerge in sport, they often have the unintended impact of fragmenting the very sport they aim to promote. In contrast, by uniting together the professional athlete body of the PTO with the international federation of World Triathlon, this partnership has the opportunity to unite the sport under the common goal of growing triathlon – which is essential for the sport to become mainstream.”
PTO CEO, Sam Renouf, himself a former international triathlete and then senior executive at The Active Network, a global leader in growing sports participation businesses, added, “Given the importance of the Olympics and short course racing on the traditional federation funding model, long distance triathlon has largely been left to the ‘private sector’ of for-profit promoters; leading to a fragmented and uncoordinated calendar for both athletes and fans. In partnering together to recognise the PTO Tour as the official tour of long distance triathlon, the PTO and World Triathlon are both elevating long distance triathlon and bringing this part of the sport back into the fold of the World Triathlon family.
“On the Age Group side, we jointly recognise the uniqueness in triathlon that athletes of any age can strive for and qualify to represent their country in an officially recognised World Championship. The inclusion of Age Group Championship racing throughout the PTO Tour will provide ‘bucket list’ racing opportunities for the global Age Group community, much as the World Marathon Majors have united the global running community.”
Current PTO Athlete Board member and PTO World #6, Paula Findlay, highlighted the importance of the agreement from an athlete perspective, “As an athlete who’s represented their country at both the Olympics and World Triathlon Championship Series, if you compete and win at the pinnacle of your sport, you want that achievement to be recognised as it is at other distances in triathlon and in all other sports – by calling yourself a world champion. Through the eyes of the professional athletes who set up and co-own the PTO, it is a significant step forward.”
This partnership is not only focused on the launch a new tour of long distance in triathlon, but also on a series of services that World Triathlon and the PTO will be working on together to make the events fairer, more competitive and sustainable. This includes a newly expanded anti-doping program for long distance racing, further details of which will be announced soon.
The Competition Jury appeals will be delivered through the World Triathlon system, including going to the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) when needed. World Triathlon will also provide an extensive athlete support system and will implement the guidelines on Safeguarding as well as technical support, including a World Triathlon Technical Delegate on each stop of the new tour. Plus marketing and commercial collaborations between the organisations.
Full details of the newly expanded PTO Tour calendar will be announced this October, including locations, athletes and event details for both the Professional and Age Group championship events.
 Although the Professional World Championship title will be awarded through a season-long points competition, the Age Group title will be determined at a single race which will rotate between PTO Tour locations and provide an opportunity for amateur athletes around the world to strive towards World Championship status. In recognition of the new Tour’s designation, World Triathlon is creating a new World Championship title for the 100km distance.
Q&A, what will change and what will stay the same?
Does this mean PTO is now part of World Triathlon?
No, the PTO is partnering with World Triathlon to unite and better promote the longer distances of the sport. The PTO Tour series remains operated and branded by the PTO.
Will PTO races become draft-legal like short course World Triathlon races?
No, the PTO Tour races will maintain the same non-drafting format.
Will PTO race winners earn World Triathlon titles?
Yes, the launch of this partnership now means that long distance triathlon will have a season-long narrative, which culminates in the awarding of a men’s and women’s World Champion for professional athletes. This is much the same as the WTCS series for short course racing – or in other sports, such as F1, where there is a season-long competition to crown a World Champion.
In addition to the World Championship title for the series winner, there is the planned creation of up to five Regional Championships at races within the series, including for Asia, Europe, the Americas, Oceania and Africa.
Which races will PTO and World Triathlon be teaming up for?
All PTO Tour races will be run in partnership with World Triathlon.
Does this mean all PTO races will be run under World Triathlon rules?
PTO Tour events are already governed by World Triathlon rules. There are certain exemptions (such as the 20m draft rule) which are agreed between the PTO and World Triathlon before each event.
Will all PTO Tour races in 2024 be run over the 100km distance for professionals?
Yes, World Triathlon has recognised the 100km distance as the official distance of ‘Long Distance’ triathlon
How will Professional athletes qualify for the PTO Tour in 2024?
Qualification will be determined by athletes’ PTO World Ranking, as it has done this year.
The PTO will also continue to provide wildcard starts for athletes. These will continue to be based on:
- Athletes whose rankings, because of injury, maternity or other reasons, do not accurately reflect the quality of their historical performances and who have demonstrated that they are capable of being in-form for the event.
- Up and coming athletes who have shown the ability to be competitive with the qualifying field, but have not yet had the opportunity to establish a sufficiently high ranking to be an automatic qualifier.
- Short course athletes who have a sufficiently high World Triathlon ranking so as to expect that they would be competitive in the event.
What will the new PTO World Championship tour of long distance triathlons look like in 2024? How many races will it have? Where will it visit?
Full details of the newly expanded PTO Tour calendar will be announced in October 2023, including locations, athletes and event details for both the Professional and Age Group championship events.
How does the PTO and World Triathlon partnership affect Age Group athletes?
On the PTO Tour in 2024, Age Groupers will have 2 options available:
- To enter the open age Group race, which will be open to all athletes.
- To compete in the championship event, which requires selection and qualification through their respective National Federation.
How do I compete for my country as an Age Grouper at PTO Tour events in 2024?
Criteria to race for your country at PTO Tour events will be set by national triathlon federations and will differ from country to country. Please contact your National Federation for qualification details in due course.
Does this mean the PTO and World Triathlon will synchronise on race calendars in 2024?
Yes, part of the reason for this partnership was to avoid fragmenting the calendar further. Now there will be a single official World Championship tour of long distance triathlon.
What about Ironman or Challenge events?
The PTO Tour in 2024 will be the official World Championship tour of long distance triathlon, backed by World Triathlon. PTO professional athlete members will still be able to earn PTO World Ranking points at Ironman and Challenge events as usual.