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Six of the professional athletes who competed at the LTF triathlon the day before flew to New York after the race to compete, including LTF female winner, Emma Snowsill, who also took first among the women in New York. Greg Bennett won the NYC Triathlon by seven seconds, which was his vindication after suffering a flat on the bike at the LTF race.

The series also includes the 2006 Accenture Chicago Triathlon, which was held on August 27, and the 2006 Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Triathlon on September 10. The 2007 Life Time Fitness Triathlon in Minneapolis will serve as the championship race and the exciting wrap-up to the series. This unprecedented event combines the four most prominent Olympic-distance triathlons in the United States. Together, these races will offer more than $1 million in prize money.

Jack Caress, race director for the Los Angeles triathlon, believes the series will take the sport to the next level. “Most of the focus of triathlon has been on Ironman-distance racing. Now, for the first time, the four biggest Olympic-distance triathlons are giving pro and amateur elite triathletes something they can shoot for every year.”

While the prize money will be a draw for pros (there’s a $200,000 bonus for winning every race in the series), the series also offers something for elite amateurs: The top five male and female winners at each race will automatically qualify for the series championship in Minneapolis; they’ll also receive complementary airfare and lodging. “It gives the best amateurs in the country something to shoot for at the Olympic distance,” Caress said.

Kevin Steele, vice president of research and development at Life Time Fitness, says plans include an additional race in 2007, as well as local television broadcasts of each race in the series (currently, the Life Time Fitness Triathlon is broadcast nationally on NBC), a growing prize purse and ways to increase spectator support.

He says it’s important to cultivate interest in triathlon and increase the number of people following the sport. “The heart and soul of this series is creating fan interest.”

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