The Races We’re Excited About in 2022
And why you should be too.
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
There’s a lot on the calendar for 2022—and we’re not just talking about Kristian Blummenfelt’s schedule. Two Ironman world championships, a sub-7/sub-8 project, a 70.3 world championship, an eSports tri world championship, new PTO races and a return of the Collins Cup, exciting Super League events, an expansion of the CLASH racetrack series, a Couples Championship (whatever that means), and all the other “regular” stuff too.
To help you plan your viewing schedule, we’ve asked the experts for the events they’re most excited about and rounded up the races we’re circling on our calendars. Here’s what you should be ready to watch—and why.
Epic or Disaster—or Both
One Water Swimrun Race
On face value, it seems so hard, it’s almost stupid: 150 miles of swimming and running around the the world’s largest archipelago in Sweden in an area known more for its brutal weather and terrain than its placid conditions. Add in no set course (so it’s more like an adventure race), take away all GPS/navigation electronics, then invite some of the world’s top swimrunners to grind it out for two days and $100,000. Each of the 10 teams have three racers and a planner/navigator who must stay in the boat to choose the routes to unknown checkpoints. The best part? All of this carnage will be broadcast live so viewers can see the brutality unfold in real time. Something about this whole thing screams “epic” or “disaster” (or both), but either way it’ll be good TV.
– Chris Foster, executive editor
July 29 & 31
World Triathlon Finals
I’m fully aware I’m on the wrong side of the pond with this pick, but please don’t glaze over just yet. Yes, it would have been easy to go for some non-drafting long course action for 2022—big names, big races, big cash, and Ironman double dipping on world champs and all that. But over here in Blighty we have Birmingham hosting the Commonwealth Games and a slew of cracking races that you don’t have to strike through your entire day to watch. There’s the visually impaired men and women going at it in the paratri, a mixed relay, and the two individual contests over the sprint distance. Forced to pick just one, it’s the women’s triathlon. While Great Britain had to pick just three from a peloton full of triathletes for Tokyo, the split of the home nations means that England, Scotland, and Wales get to go at it head-to-head, so to add to Jess Learmonth, Georgia Taylor-Brown, and Sophie Coldwell, we can include Beth Potter and Non Stanford. (And maybe Lucy Charles-Barclay?) Plus, throw in Aussies, Kiwis, Canadians, and the little matter of Olympic champion (and defending Commonwealth champion) Flora Duffy. and it’s a race at Sutton Park that’s not to be missed. You might just need to set the alarm a little early if you’re reading this States-side.
– Tim Heming, contributor
Mixed Relay for the Masses
Age-Group Mixed Relay National Championships
2022 Sprint & Mixed Relay World Championships
As a bona-fide fan of roping my friends into racing with me, I’m eagerly anticipating the debut of the mixed relay national at the USA Triathlon Multisport National Championships at the end of April. Instead of three people each taking one leg of a triathlon, it’s four people doing a rapid-fire swim-bike-run one after another—when one finishes the run, another dives in for the swim. It was the event of the Tokyo Olympics, and I’m stoked to see age-groupers take this format and go wild. (Plus, it could qualify you for the Age Group Mixed Relay World Championships in 2023.)
– Susan Lacke, digital editor
A New Course = A New Champion?
2021 Ironman World Championship
St. George, Utah
Oh, the Kona diehards will have my head, but: I’m more excited for the move to St. George—at least for the pros. It gives new athletes (and new types of athletes) a chance to mix it up, and opens the question of who’s the best, not just who’s the best in very specific conditions. Sure, we’ll all (hopefully) be back on the Big Island in October for a one-of-a-kind two-day affair. But the May event—the 2021 world championships in 2022—will be the first chance to see the much-anticipated face-off of the Norwegians, Jan Frodeno, Lionel Sanders, Patrick Lange, and everyone else. And, on the women’s side, Anne Haug will finally have her chance to defend her title against Daniela Ryf and Lucy Charles-Barclay—something I’m sure she’s been waiting for for over two years now. Because all of the pros who qualified for the 2020 and 2021 events in Hawaii were rolled into the May race, there’s a size, depth, and pure speculativeness to the field that we haven’t seen in a long time. (The 2022 championship event in October requires a new qualification for 2022, for which they’ll be a record number of spots available in St. George.) It’s something new in long-course triathlon and it means we could have new champions, too.
– Kelly O’Mara, editor-in-chief
6:59, Here We Come
Undisclosed date (early June)
I’m most looking forward to the Sub7/Sub8 Project that will take place the first week of June. It’s the most unique “race” we’ll have this year, and the success of Eliud Kipchoge’s 1:59 project makes me believe it could bring new eyes to the sport. I’m most interested in the technology that is going to come out of it and what wild things each athlete might try. I expect all four athletes to break the barrier, and I’m excited to see just how fast Kristian Blummenfelt and Lucy Charles-Barclay can go.
– Brad Culp, contributor
Eclipsing what once felt like impossible barriers in triathlon now seems feasible when you consider shoe technology, pacing, and an optimal course (just look at the Houston Marathon and Half-Marathon last weekend, when we saw two American records broken in the women’s races in ideal conditions). With steep competition and the right set-up, I do think we will see some shockingly fast results out of these athletes. If nothing else, it will be fun and exciting to watch.
– Sarah Wassner Flynn, contributor
So Much TV
US Open & Canadian Open
Dallas, Texas & Edmonton, Canada
Sept. 17-18 & July 23-24
Super League Triathlon
Arena Games, various location
April & May
(fall season, TBA)
Now that the first successful Collins Cup event is off the ground and in the rearview mirror, it’s not much to expect the Pro Triathletes Organization will build on the best athletes racing racing each other with a beefed up TV production and more bells and whistles this year. Plus, with new events in the Canadian and US Open, I expect we’ll see even more livestreamed triathlon. Though, in terms of pure, all-out, to-the-line racing to watch live, it’s hard to beat the Super League events.
– Kelly O’Mara, editor-in-chief
Return to Kona
2022 Ironman World Championship
Oct. 6 & 8
I mean, who isn’t going to be excited about Kona in October 2022 (assuming we can all get into Hawaii). Let’s face it, even before our lives were derailed by a global pandemic, Kona always delivered some truly epic performances from some truly epic athletes. The race never quite unfolds as anyone thinks it will—”predictably unpredictable” is always my favorite phrase for Kona—so after two years away from the Big Dance, who knows what’s going to happen and how it could all play out? If that isn’t exciting for our sport, then what is? The pre-race hype will be more intense than ever and it’ll translate to one thing: some huge performances from the athletes we least expect. It’ll bring a new level of intensity to triathlon excitement—and in a sport packed full of Type-A+ folk, that’s saying something.
– Emma-Kate Lidbury, managing editor