Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Dallas is the second stop of the North American PTO Tour – after the Canadian Open in July. Pro athletes appreciate that every starter will get paid—with a total prize purse of $1 million, including a winner’s check for $100K. The fields are probably the strongest of any race this year: From the top athletes in the PTO World Rankings, we have 15 of the top 25 women and 22 of the top 30 men who are on the start list for Dallas. Even though it is only in its first year, the PTO Tour already plays an important role in the pro racing calendar, and it is expected to further expand in 2023.
While undoubtedly there might be some hedging here and there for Ironman World Championship race in Kona—the first one since 2019, mind you—in just a few weeks, there are still some great athletes racing on a new course. Read below for insider insight on the U.S. Open course and how we think both races will play out.
WATCH: Be sure to catch all of the U.S. Open action streaming live on Outside Watch this Saturday and Sunday – keep scrolling for how to watch the PTO U.S. Open livestream.Section divider
PTO U.S. Open: The Dallas Course
Similar to Edmonton, Dallas will be a “city course.” The start, finish, and transition zone will be at the Levy Event Plaza in Irving, Texas, where grandstands will be erected to create what the PTO calls a “stadium atmosphere.” Because of the looped course athletes will frequently pass the grandstands, making this an excellent position to follow the whole race. The swim will be two 1K loops in man-made 125-acre Lake Carolyn—normally used for kayaking or paddleboarding. After T1, there will be seven laps of roughly 7 miles each (all total, the bike will be 50 miles or 80K). The bike course is an out-and-back on the flat, multi-lane Las Colinas Blvd., giving athletes frequent opportunities to assess where they are in the field and how far ahead (or back) they are. Off the bike, it’s going to be five run loops on a figure-eight with an added out-and-back at the far end. Each loop is just over two miles, leading to a total run of 11 miles, or 18K, to bring the total race distance to 100K.
The weather in Texas is forecasted to be hot and humid, with afternoon temperatures hovering around 92 degrees F. With a non-wetsuit swim, it’s an ideal prep race three weeks before Kona.Section divider
U.S. Open: Women’s Race (Saturday, September 17)
Looking at the swim power on the female start list, the pace will be fast as soon as the gun goes off. After her return to racing with a win at the World Triathlon Long Distance Championships, Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay is almost certainly going to lead into the Dallas T1. The question is, how large of a gap can she build over her competition? Spain’s Sara Perez Sala might be next in T1 but she’s unlikely to match Lucy on the bike. Viewers should take note of how far back American Taylor Knibb might be—at 70.3 World Championships in 2021 she started the bike 90 seconds behind Lucy, probably a bit more than she was hoping for. Olympic gold medalist Flora Duffy is probably the only other athlete who might be able to stay within a minute of Lucy in the swim.
Once on the bike, can Charles-Barclay extend her lead like she did in St. George 2021, or can Knibb replicate her dominating bike performances from the Collins Cup 2021 and Oceanside earlier this year? Both Lucy and Taylor were forced to take an injury break earlier this season, so maybe Flora Duffy is able to swim, bike, and run with them. Flora is still working to transfer her dominance from short course to the longer distances – will we see her make a statement in Dallas?
Canada’s Paula Findlay should be starting the bike within two minutes of the lead, but will she have the bike legs to work her way to the front or at least into the podium position? There are a few more strong bike riders such as Brit Kat Matthews and American Jocelyn McCauley, but how well can they ride coming out of their Kona prep, and will they be fresh enough to also run well after that?
Australian Ashleigh Gentle was the winner at the PTO Canadian Open in Edmonton back in July: With the fastest run split of the day she was able to turn a two-minute deficit in T2 into a two-minute winning margin. As long as she’s able to limit the losses on the bike, she will still be in a good position to extend her winning streak on the 100K PTO distance.
With such a deep field, there is almost always one big surprise. Brit Holly Lawrence is coming off a win in her Collins Cup match and certainly wants to improve on her sixth place in Edmonton. Australian Ellie Salthouse, on the other hand, was beaten by Holly in Samorin, and an eighth place in Edmonton was her best 2022 result after eight wins in 2021. Canadian Tamara Jewett is considered the best pure runner in the field, but she also surprised fans at the Collins Cup when she swam and biked harder than ever before—staying with Anne Haug and Jackie Hering, but then struggled on the run. Maybe she can find a better balance in Dallas?Section divider
PTO U.S. Open: Men’s Race (Sunday, September 18)
If the women’s race is pretty much impossible to predict – the men’s race might be even harder!
Australian Aaron Royle is the likely swim leader out of the water, but he won’t be able to gain much time on the rest of the field. In Edmonton, French up-and-comer Sam Laidlow was within seconds of him, setting up a bike breakaway. Other race favorites such as Dane Daniel Baekkegard, Germany’s Florian Angert, American Ben Kanute, or Norwegian Casper Stornes should be about a minute back.
There’s going to be some more work on the bike for American Rudy Von Berg and German Frederic Funk. Dan Magnus Ditlev should also be within two minutes off the lead after the swim. The gap is going to be much bigger for Canadian Lionel Sanders and American Sam Long—these two could very well be the last out of the water in Dallas.
On the bike, the favorites are likely to get tighter together. Sanders and Long have to make up around four minutes, but in T2 they should have significantly reduced that gap—even if it’s unlikely that they have been able to make it all the way to the front. Will Laidlow and Brownlee again try to ride away from the rest of the field, or will they save their legs for stronger runs than in Edmonton? Will the strong bike riders such as Funk or Ditlev get to the front and maybe even ride away? And how far behind will the strong runners be in T2?
It’s quite likely that there are going to be 10 to 15 athletes within 90 seconds at the start of the run. Who is going to have the best run legs? From the likely lead group, Baekkegard has been a consistent and speedy runner, but he is coming off his Kona prep and might not have the fresh legs which are probably needed for a fast 18K run. The same applies to Sanders, Laidlow, Angert, Brownlee, Von Berg and others; is one of them going to go for it in Dallas, possibly risking their Kona race? The middle-distance specialists have a bit more time before their next big event at the end of October, so maybe Royle, Funk, Kanute or Oceanside winner Jackson Laundry can get the Dallas win? Will Long’s decision to forego Kona be the edge he needs to go super deep? Or is Casper Stornes going to continue the Norwegian domination on the 100K distance?
The complete male U.S. Collins Cup team will be racing in Dallas as well—in addition to Kanute, Long and Von Berg there are Matt Hanson, Jason West, and Chris Leiferman. Can they do better than in Samorin, where they weren’t able to win a single match?
Dallas is also a great chance for some new names to race well and to earn a big paycheck. Some names to watch include Dane Miki Taagholt, Germany’s Mika Noodt, and German Jan Stratmann—who have raced well in Europe but are probably unknown in North America, at least for now.
*Update: Alistair Brownlee has withdrawn from the men’s race. This story has been updated to reflect the change.Section divider
PTO U.S. Open – How to Watch
The PTO U.S. Open women’s race kicks off at 12:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, September 17. The men’s race follows on Sunday, September 18 at 2:30 p.m. ET. We’ll be broadcasting the free livestream for both races in the window below. O+ members will also be able to replay both races on demand. Not an O+ member? Become one today for only $2.49 per month.