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Last year, the Daytona race track event brought some of the most exciting racing of the year—with Gustav Iden and Paula Findlay clinching their PTO Championship titles at the event—all livestreamed for fans around the world. The year before that Findlay battled it out with Lucy Charles-Barclay under the lights, while Lionel Sanders stormed to the win. This year’s event on Saturday has a few changes but the same exciting late-season racing for the last podiums of 2021.
Notably, Challenge Daytona is now Clash Daytona after the Challenge North America brand broke off from the Challenge Family to form its own organization. (Don’t worry, you can still earn a spot at Daytona to the Challenge Championship.) Additionally, the Daytona race will not serve as the Pro Triathletes Organization’s championship race this year; last year the PTO put up over $1 million in prize money.
But the key features of the December in Daytona are all still there: unique distance and format, high-quality broadcasting, and the big names fighting it out.
The Daytona course
Daytona was the first to launch the flagship racetrack-style event—which is now catching on around the country. The pros will compete over the 100K distance (“the Daytona distance”)—also catching on around the world. They’ll race 2km in Lake Lloyd, the surprisingly chilly lake inside the track. They’ll then cover 80km (49.7 miles for the Americans) over 20 laps of the race track. And they’ll finish it off with a four-lap 18km run (11.2 miles).
With a race held entirely inside the NASCAR stadium, spectators and TV cameras can follow along for all the drama. One unique issue that athletes will face, though: An entirely flat course with no turns and, at times, brutal wind, can wreak havoc on those unaccustomed to long hours in the time trial position.
Who to watch
With year-end points on the line and $100,000 in prize money, many pros are hoping to get in one last great race before the season ends.
The big name this weekend, in the wake of his world’s best Ironman performance, is reigning Olympic champ Kristian Blummenfelt. While he won’t have to take on last year’s winner and teammate Gustav Iden, he will have to hold off Americans Ben Kanute and Rudy von Berg, along with the up-and-coming Magnus Ditlev. Matt Hanson, whose gutsy run last year brought him all the way up to second, and uber-cyclist Andrew Starykowicz will also be looking to podium on the track.
While Anne Haug, Lucy Charles-Barclay, and Paula Findlay have pulled out of the women’s race (it has been a long year), there will still be plenty of contenders. Jodie Stimpson won at the Clash race track event in Miami back in March, and will look to repeat here. But don’t count out multi-time world champ Mirinda Carfrae on the return-to-racing warpath since giving birth earlier to her son this year. Fellow Brit Lucy Hall and speed Spanish swimmer Sara Sala will also try to mark their mark early, while the fleet-footed Jackie Hering is likely to be running down competitors. Additionally, Hannah Wells has been unstoppable in New Zealand and Australia and will try to bring the dominance to the U.S. And the always-popular Meredith Kessler will return to the start line.
How to watch
Clash will be broadcasting a paid live feed on Facebook starting at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4. The pro racing starts at noon. The nearly six-hour broadcast will include all the TV features you saw last year—changing leaderboards on screen, graphics showing pace and speed, and on-the-ground reports from Tim O’Donnell, Alicia Kaye, and Greg Bennett, in addition to in-the-booth commentary from Belinda Granger and NASCAR’s Rick Allen.
The Facebook feed costs $1.99 and will go up to $2.99 48 hours before the event. Additionally, the pro race highlights will air on NBCSN in the U.S. on Dec. 9 at 6 p.m. ET and Dec. 16 at 8 p.m. ET. It will also eventually air on good old regular broadcast TV, on NBC, on New Year’s Day at 1:30 p.m. ET.