After only three years in existence, the Hy-Vee Des Moines ITU Elite Cup has already become one of the most important triathlon events in the world, consistently drawing the fastest athletes in the world to Des Moines, Iowa, for a share of the mammoth prize purse. This year’s event will be the fourth edition of the race and will feature the sport’s largest ever single-day prize purse of $1 million (USD) with a total of $200,000 going to both the men and women’s winners.
The event began after Ric Jurgens, CEO of the Hy-Vee Corporation, participated in the bicycle leg of a triathlon relay near the company’s base of Des Moines. Jurgen’s envisioned triathlon’s answer to The Master’s golf tournament when he and now-president Randy Edeker first discussed a company-sponsored tri for weekend warriors and Elite triathletes alike while raising money for Variety—The Children’s Charity in Iowa.
The first Hy-Vee ITU World Cup in 2007 was held in Downtown Des Moines, finishing in front of the Iowa State Capitol. The event drew more than 2,000 Elite and age-group athletes to Des Moines, as well as 10,000 spectators, all of which helped raise $250,000 for charity. Taking home the inaugural titles were Denmark’s Rasmus Henning and American Laura Bennett.
The 2008 edition of the race was moved to West Des Moines, seven miles outside the State Capitol, due to serious flooding in the Des Moines area. The race, which was held less than two months before the Beijing Olympic Games, also served as a U.S. qualifying event for the Games. Henning pulled off the repeat win in the men’s contest, while Aussie Emma Snowsill, who would go on to take gold in Beijing, took top honours in the women’s race. Hunter Kemper and Sarah Haskins finished as the top Americans, thus earning a place in the Beijing Olympic Triathlon.
The 2009 contest proved to be the most exciting race to date, producing a five-way sprint to the finish in the men’s event, with Canadian Simon Whitfield breaking the tape first and earning the $200,000 first-place cheque. The men’s race was deemed the “Race of the Year” by Triathlete Magazine. On the women’s side, Aussie Emma Moffatt put an exclamation point on her near-perfect 2009 season, winning in West Des Moines with a new course record.
The race has highlighted Hy-Vee’s ongoing effort to promote good health and nutrition in its stores through a wider selection of organic foods, trained dietitians to help consumers with menu planning, health fairs, sponsorship of the 100-day Live Healthy Iowa Challenge and numerous other internal and community initiatives.
“One of the most amazing things about the race is looking into the grand stands and seeing all the HyVee employees smiling, clapping and enjoying triathlon at its finest,” said 2009 race winner Simon Whitfield. “The support from the HyVee employees is amazing.”
The 2010 Hy-Vee Des Moines ITU Elite Cup will take place on Sunday, June 13.
Related Event: 2010 Hy-Vee ITU Triathlon Elite Cup
|Results: Elite Women|