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What is the Collins Cup?

And how does it work?

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It’s been almost five years since we first heard about the Collins Cup. Since then, the premier event, which pits pro athletes from three teams against each other, has morphed and changed—most notably, getting pushed last year because of COVID (when it seemed like it was finally, finally going to happen!).

So, where is it at now and what do you need to know?

The Collins Cup

The flagship event of the Professional Triathletes Organization (PTO), the Collins Cup will feature three teams of 12 athletes each—six men and six women. The three teams will represent the U.S., Europe, and the rest of the world (dubbed The Internationals). Three athletes—one from each team—will go off at a time in 12 mini head-to-head races, with points awarded for each of those matches. Bonus points are awarded for winning by an extra big margin of victory. Race match-ups will be picked by captains the week of the race via a draft. (More on the captains below.)

Athletes will compete over the new 100K PTO distance that we saw at the PTO championships at Challenge Daytona in December: 2K swim, 80K bike, 18K run.

And the winning team will then be determined by the total number of points after the 12 races.

The inaugural race is set to be held this Aug. 28 in Samorin, Slovakia in the X-Bionic Sphere. That is the day before the Challenge Championship race to be held in that same location as part of a race festival-style weekend.

Yes, you will be able to watch it live. There has been talk of live mics allowing you to listen in to captain’s instructions, onscreen data like watts and heart rate, and cameras following each of the 12 mini-races—which will go off ten minutes apart. Coverage details haven’t been released yet, however. Stay tuned.

RELATED: The Latest from the Pro Triathletes Organization: Coronavirus, the Collins Cup, and a $2 Million Bonus Program

How Do You Qualify for the Collins Cup

You probably don’t qualify, but the 36 best triathletes in the world do. On each team of 12, eight athletes (four men and four women) will qualify automatically based on rankings. Those rankings are determined by an athletes’ best performances over the previous year at PTO-determined races—which will include virtually all large Ironman, Challenge, and World Triathlon events, as well as PTO-backed independent races. Each race earns an athlete points based on how they do with respect to an algorithmically determined “ideal” time. (ie. That means even if you win, you can earn more points by going faster.) Your best two races this year are averaged with your best three races pre-2021 to determine your overall score.

It’s a bit complicated, but you can see the full details on how rankings are determined here.

Current standings can be tracked throughout the year (though it should be noted the current rankings list doesn’t mean the top athletes have necessarily yet achieved the required number of races for the year, simply that this is where they are ranked at the moment):

The other four athletes on each team will be “Captain’s Picks,” chosen at discretion by the non-athlete PTO board with input from the team captains. The team captains are:

  • U.S – Karen Smyers and Mark Allen
  • Europe – Normann Stadler and Chrissie Wellington
  • The Internationals – Erin Baker, Craig Alexander, Lisa Bentley, and Simon Whitfield

Athletes will be vying for these spots over the course of this season, and the spots will be in hot demand partially because of the very large $1.5 million purse on the line. Athletes will earn their prize money simply for qualifying for the Collins Cup, awarded based on their ranking at the time they are named to the Collins Cup team. They will, then, presumably compete for country glory during the race itself.

For more information, you can watch this video produced by the PTO: