Nick and Adam have partnered with USAT’s Project Podium to manage a Super League Team the RTS Warriors. The Warriors include an exciting roster of young triathletes with a focus on athlete development and a very different, fast-paced race format. The team is meant to compliment RTS’s core long-course focused program and to introduce our fans to the exciting variety possible within our sport. In this blog post, Adam reflects on Super League triathlon:
I wasn’t too sure about Super League either back in 2019 when it launched. At that time, I was 3 years into my triathlon journey (addiction) and I was still debating internally whether or not Super League was “really triathlon”. I had 100% drunk the IRONMAN Cool Aid and thought that anything less than a 70.3 was not to be taken seriously…….Sound familiar?
How wrong I was.
By 2021 I was hooked. The fast paced, furiously competitive racing had me on the edge of my seat every time I tuned in. Fast forward two more years to the summer of 2023 and I’m now proudly running my own Super League team with RTS founder Nicholas Chase.
The triathlon landscape has changed tremendously since 2015 when I did my first triathlon. At that time IRONMAN was the dominant force and no-one was willing, or able to challenge them. Some have tried and failed?? (CLASH), others are trying and possibly succeeding (PTO) but there’s one event company that is not on IRONMAN’s radar and probably never will be. And they are doing a magnificent job. That is Super League Triathlon.
Super League is not a mass participation event. And they are only interested in fast paced, short course racing. Their racing is done on very small, closed circuits, in major cities. They get fantastic crowds, and their events are fantastically produced. The commentary is top notch, the media before and after the events is great, and the TV coverage is without a doubt the best there is in triathlon. Just watch one of their live events, streamed for free on YouTube and you will agree with me.
The PTO is trying to do what Super League is doing, with city races, on smaller courses with larger crowds. Just over a longer distance. And they are struggling. Super League has it dialed in.
And that my friends I why RTS has entered a team into Super League for the 2023 season. We love what they are doing, we love the racing, the atmosphere, and the exposure, and we wanted to be a part of one of the the best triathlon products in the world.
We started talking with SLT (Super League Triathlon) back in 2022 about having our own team in the 2023 season. SLT were keen on the idea, as they saw RTS as a route into the American market. SLT is getting great traction and exposure in Europe and Asia, but they are struggling to get the American audience to buy in. Between us, we decided that if RTS could work with USAT and enter an all-American team into SLT for 2023, maybe, just maybe the American market might pay attention.
The first thing I did once this ball got rolling was to reach out to Parker Spencer at USAT Project Podium. I’d been following their progress for a while and recognized that he was putting together a team of very talented young men. Luckily for the US women, USAT has provided a lot of funding to colleges to run a female NCAA program. This does not exist for college men, so Parker and USAT created Project Podium to ensure that the USA was developing some strong Olympic talent on the men’s side.
Parker loved the idea of exposing his young guns to the immensely challenging racing found in SLT and we both felt that having them race against the best in the world at such an early stage in their development could only be a good thing for the US Olympic team, especially as we already have one eye on the LA Olympics in 2028. We then went about building a whole team, approaching Super League veterans such as Chase McQueen and Taylor Spivey to provide the experience and knowledge needed to compliment the raw talent of these junior athletes. Luckily for us the existing USAT women are so strong, it was not hard for us to build a women’s team that could take on the world.
The team we have assembled is something I am very proud of. On the women’s side we have some very experienced heads such as Taylor, and Katie Zaferes, who will help lead and nurture younger talent such as Erika Ackerlund and Jimena De La Pena. With the men we get to bring in our very own Marc Dubrick (8th at 70.3 Worlds this year) to race alongside SLT veterans such as Chase, Olympians Ben Kanute, Morgan Pearson, and the promising young talent of Carter Stuhlmacher and Reese Vannerson.
Our vision is very different from the other SLT teams. We are building a permanent team, we will be working on this team throughout the year (2023-2024), with the idea of making this team a stronger team year over year. Leveraging the unique scoring system that exists in SLT and building a custom-made team designed to maximize racing points. I firmly believe that the athletes you see racing for the RTS Warriors will be the athletes you see racing for the USA in the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles. And they will dominate that competition because of it.
OK Adam, that all sounds wonderful, but back to the Real Tri Squad. How does this team benefit RTS?
I’m glad you asked. Triathlon is a very fragmented sport right now. We have a lot of players in the space, from short to long some of the major players are; Super League Triathlon, World Triathlon, XTERRA, CLASH Endurance, PTO, Challenge and IRONMAN. There are others, but in my mind, these are the major brands/entities in triathlon right now.
As a team, Nick and I feel that it is very hard to grow RTS to the size it needs to be only operating in one or two spaces. Being a North American based team, to date, we have really only been playing in the IM and PTO sand pits. Starting now in 2023 we are looking to expand our brand across the triathlon space.
This year we were lucky enough to have Lisa Becharas competing in XTERRA. We had Marc, Jackson, Tamara and Lesley competing in PTO events. Everybody was competing in IM branded events, and now we have athletes competing in Super League. It is essential for us to grow as a brand if we want to eventually pay our athletes a living wage. We need to be seen and loved by more people across the globe.
Will Super League distract us from long course? Absolutely not. I was personally in Lahti Finland with Tamara, Marc and Jackson and loved every minute of it, while Nick was working his butt off in London with the Super League team.
Luckily Nick and I love what we do, and most of the time this does not feel like work. Plus, we are surrounded by team members who are ready, willing, and able to pitch in, as and when needed.
I personally cannot wait to see where this journey takes us. We are having some fantastic conversations with some amazing people and for RTS the only way is up. So please follow along, enjoy this journey with us. Keep following the long course men and women that you already love and tune in to SLT to find some new favorite short course pros to cheer for.
There’s plenty of room in the sand pit. Come play!