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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Hy-Vee based here will host the first ITU World Cup Triathlon in June 2007, vaulting Des Moines into the ranks of leading sports cities of the world.
Ric Jurgens, president and c.e.o. of Hy-Vee, said Des Moines will be only the fourth U.S. city to host a World Cup elite triathlon since the competition began.
"Only Honolulu, New York City and St. Petersburg, Florida have hosted ITU World Cup events in America," Jurgens noted. "None are planned in the U.S. during 2006 and, so far, ours is the only one scheduled in our nation in 2007. So our role as hosts is somewhat rare and somewhat remarkable, given the relative size of our city."
The Des Moines event will be the richest ever on the elite triathlon circuit. The first-place winners in the men's and women's divisions will each take home paychecks of $200,000 from a total pro purse of more than $700,000.
Jurgens also said Hy-Vee will host a concurrent citizens race, the Hy-Vee Triathlon, for enthusiasts who will compete in age group and team events. They will be vying for more than $40,000 in gifts and prizes. The elite and amateur triathlons will be run on Sunday, June 17, 2007.
Jurgens said the entire weekend of June 15-17 will have events designed to encourage health and fitness. "We will have a lot of activities for families and people of all ages during Friday and Saturday, too," he added.
For the Des Moines events, event components are a 1.5-kilometer swim, a 40-kilometer bicycle ride, and a 10-kilometer run. All of the distances match those of their individual Olympic events.
In addition to the record-large purse, the Hy-Vee ITU World Cup Triathlon is also expected to draw top athletes because it is a qualifying event for both the 2007 World Triathlon Championships in Hamburg, Germany in September 2007, and the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.
Jurgens said Hy-Vee began thinking about hosting a major triathlon partly because he had enjoyed participating on a triathlon team. "I was amazed at how much excitement and enthusiasm a triathlon generates," Jurgens said. "We believe that bringing an event like this to Des Moines is beneficial in many ways. One of the most important is that the triathlons, and all the associated activities, promote the concept of fitness and health. That's important to Hy-Vee, because the more fit we are, the more healthy we will be. And that's good for all of us."
Hy-Vee, an employee-owned corporation operating 222 retail stores in seven Midwestern states, recorded total sales of $4.9 billion in 2005, ranking it among the top 20 supermarket chains and the top 35 private companies in the U.S.