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The 2009 Hy-Vee Triathlon weekend will be unique for two reasons: The International Triathlon Union's (ITU) Triathlon Team World Championship will take place on American soil for the first time and has never before featured co-ed teams. The race will take place on Sun., June 28 in Hy-Vee's West Des Moines, Iowa, hometown.
The Midwest supermarket chain put Iowa on the map of major athletic competitions when it hosted the first Hy-Vee ITU World Cup Triathlon in 2007. It was only the fourth time a World Cup elite event had been held in the United States since the competition began.
The dynamic action of the ITU Triathlon Team World Championship in Des Moines is big boost for the event "because of the tremendous triathlon community that has already supported [it]," said Loreen Barnett, ITU's secretary general. "Coverage on NBC will help promote this exciting format to a huge television audience."
It is hoped that exposure will help propel the team race onto the Olympic program. The ITU is preparing to propose the concept to the International Olympic Committee. Recently the IOC Executive Board approved the mixed relay for the 2010 Youth Olympic Games.
Team members will be selected from the ranks of finishers in the Hy-Vee ITU Triathlon Elite Cup men's and women's races, which will be held Saturday, June 27. Two men and two women make up each four-person team. One member of the team completes a super sprint triathlon (250m swim, 7km bike and 1.8k run) before passing off to the next team member. The team with the cumulative best time determines which nation will be crowned world champion.
The prize purse for the ITU Team World Championship is $70,000. The first-place team will win $40,000, the team that comes in second will get $20,000, and the third-place team will receive $10,000.
Only three other ITU Triathlon Team World Championships have been held. Tiszaujvaros, Hungary hosted championship races in 2003 and 2007. In Cancun, Mexico, the site of the 2006 world championships, the United States men finished first and the women finished second.
This year, the prize money for the Hy-Vee ITU Triathlon Elite Cup races will extend throughout the ranks of an expanded field of athletes. Participants can also earn points toward their overall world championship rankings.
With total sales of $6.2 billion, employee-owned Hy-Vee operates 225 retail stores in seven Midwestern states.