Who’s the Fastest Tri Couple?

A new Couples Championship aims to answer the most important tri-love question.

Photo: Lintao Zhang, Tommaso Boddi, Paula Findlay Instagram, Patrick Smith

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Money can’t buy love, but love just might be able to get you some cash in 2022, especially if you’re a pro triathlete.

Because Cupid is as Cupid does, Valentine’s Day seems the perfect date to arrow in on the first-ever Couples Championship, where a select invitation of pro triathletes* will duke it out as pairs on March 6 at Florida’s Fort De Soto Park.

Forget exchanging nuptials, there can be no finer public display of devotion than swimming 1/4-mile, biking 10 miles, running 3.1 miles, then handing over with the swiftest of embraces for your other half to take their turn (and then doing it all over again)—particularly when there’s a $100,000 for the first couple across the line.

That’s what’s at stake in the inaugural event brought to you by Waterfall Bank—the “premier bank for triathletes.” (It underscores its tagline by giving triathlon-loving customers a rather cool triathlon-branded debit card when opening a new account. And, if you feel so inclined, you can buy Waterfall-branded merch, including a bike and trisuit from its shop.)

We have, of course, plenty of questions, and very few of those concern the actual four-leg mini tri format that, in a world of growing iterations shaped by the potpourri of Super League, looks relatively straightforward.

Instead, it’s more the criteria of how you get to race that seem a bit, well, unclear. The rules merely state that couples have had to have been together for more than six months to gain an invite. But is that governed from the day they both swiped left, when they first unzipped up one another’s neoprene, or slipped inside the draft zone? You get the rather intrusive picture here.

It’s clearly, we hope, a non-issue for those who’ve been married for years, but what about others for whom another entire month might seem an eternity? And, whisper it quietly, what if they split before the event? Keep up the pretense, take the win, and sail into the sunset, free and single with a $50,000 check each?

But, aside from the questionable Ts and Cs, what’s not to love here?

Well, no disrespect to any one couple involved—and there are some proper big-hitters, devoted not just to one another but to winning multiple world titles—but triathlon has long had an issue with any kind of diversity, and this collection of white straight couples doesn’t go against that grain. But that’s more of an endemic issue of the sport, and it’s hardly fair to lay all the blame at Waterfall’s door.

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Couples competing as teams aren’t unheard of. Valentine’s Day trots where times are combined or are run as three-legged races are commonplace—although there’s not usually $100K on the line.

The idea of the bond stretching beyond teammates is also creeping more into sport by default due to the rise of ‘mixed’ pretty much everything at the Olympic level—including triathlon in Tokyo. Curling is the most recent example, where in the recent gold medal match in Beijing, the Norwegian duo were a bona fide married couple (and made their martial disagreements clear on the ice), and the victorious Italians gave each other the kind of chilly embrace that suggests they might have been dating for more than six months too. Love, it seems, comes not just to triathlon.

Back to the tri event. Who is taking part? There are some big names among the 15 loving couples signed up for this inaugural year. Mirinda Carfrae and Tim O’Donnell, with several hundred Kona podiums between them, take top billing, although it’s likely the course might be a little on the short side for them to actually do very well.

Two-time world champion Vincent Luis and his other half Taylor Spivey of the U.S. looked like the early favorites until they pulled out; now that title may go to short-course recent entries Richard Murray and Rachel Klamer or Non Stanford and Aaron Royle (who will make it official with a wedding later this year). But don’t write off Aussie lovebirds Josh Amberger and Ashleigh Gentle, nor Kirsten Kasper and Matt Sharpe, Paula Findlay and Eric Lagerstrom, or relatively new newlyweds Jaryd Browne and Emma Pallant-Browne. Then there’s the Metzlers, Justin and Jeanni. Who knew there even were this many triathlon couples?!

Rach McBride and Steph Corker were also on the original advert taken out in Triathlete last year. Both have raced in the women’s class, though McBride identifies as non-binary, so there may been some contingency in place for same sex couples to compete originally. Quite how any performance advantages were to be ironed out, however, takes us to another place we’re not ready to go.

So, how do you get an invite to next year’s Love Triland (you might have seen what we did there)? You can apply now through the website for the very formal sounding ‘Couples Championship Consideration Form.’ Our recommendation for any pros who are single: Pick someone fast and then bribe them with the conditional offer of $50K if they’ll enter into a sham relationship until the 2023 event.

In the meantime, those who are single or just not pro triathletes can pay $9.99 to watch on Facebook Live. Or, if you’re in the vicinity, you can sign-up for free general admission, but you’ll need to be on site by 7 a.m. Love waits for no triathlete.

*Terms and conditions apply: Triathletes must have been in a relationship for six months or longer. (We’re not entirely sure how they prove this.)

The Couples Championship takes place on at 6:40 a.m. ET on Sunday, March 6. See a full list of the couples taking part here

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