Diego van Looy: “Because the Duathlon World Championship is more brutal than any triathlon in the world”
“The preparations are going according to plan: on 18-19 September the long-distance World Duathlon Championships will take place in Zofingen. Stefan Ruf, President of the Powerman Zofingen organising committee, talks about the state of preparations.
What is the state of preparation about 75 days before the World Championships?
Stefan Ruf: Only two and a half months are left and then the Powerman Zofingen will take place for the 32nd time – under the title: World Triathlon Powerman Long Distance Duathlon World Championships 2021. We are really looking forward to having a competition again in September after such a long break.
What feedback has the LOC received from the athletes?
The athletes have been training for months. The top athletes have already had one or two competitions. They all want to show that they are fit and want to race again. Competing is the essence of sport. Be it with your own best times in previous years or with the times of your colleagues. With the elites, it’s all about the title. We have recently received a lot of feedback and questions. There is a lot of interest.
The Powerman World Championships had to be postponed twice. What did this postponement mean for the registered athletes?
Many athletes had registered for the event in September 2020, which had to be postponed to May 2021. In May, more registrations came in. Finally, there was another postponement to September 2021. The data of all registered athletes was automatically transferred to the event in September. The athletes do not have to do anything else. They don’t have to pay anything extra either. Now we expect them in Zofingen in September.
What is the current registration status?
That is still relatively difficult to assess at the moment. Due to the pandemic, we had a special situation with consequences for international travel. We are now assuming that entry regulations and quarantine rules will be much easier, so that many foreign participants will be able to travel to Switzerland again. Overall, the number of registrations is already respectable. The number of registrations will rise sharply in the coming weeks. This is especially true for the elite athletes – after all, the world championship participants have to register by 31 July.
What support has Powerman Zofingen received from the authorities?
In Switzerland, we consider ourselves fortunate that the government has approved a major support programme for the sport and is making extensive financial resources available to the associations. The aim is to cover the financial risks and to make COVID 19 protection concepts possible. Above all, despite the economic uncertainties, we can continue to count on the support of our loyal sponsors.
What have you been particularly happy about recently?
Sport is my personal passion, and it was a pleasure for me to follow sporting events again. It’s not just about endurance sports, but also the European Football Championships, tennis at Wimbledon et cetera. We’re seeing people in the stadiums again.
What worries you the most?
In sport, there is a very big highlight: the Olympic Games, which are taking place in Tokyo this year. All eyes are now on Tokyo and we hope that the Olympics will go smoothly. The sporting events will be revived. I am immensely happy about that. The live experience has a special quality. That motivates me enormously.
This year the Duathlon World Championships will be held in Zofingen. The World Triathlon Powerman Long Distance Duathlon Championships Zofingen are now planned to be held on September 19 instead of May 30, 2021. The organizers justify the postponement with the still virulent Corona pandemic. In September, a significant improvement of the epidemiological situation is expected.
The World Triathlon Powerman Long Distance Duathlon Championships Zofingen will be held on Sunday, September 19, 2021. The preliminary program will take place on Saturday, September 18. This was decided by the local organizers in coordination with the national and international federations. The date of May 30, 2021 became unrealistic due to the still difficult COVID-19 situation.
Situation to improve by fall
Powerman Zofingen has closely monitored the situation in recent weeks and has noticed that the situation in Switzerland, as well as in many of the athletes’ home countries, is not improving fast enough. “We would like to have participants from around 30 nations in Zofingen again, but in order to host a fair race, as many of them as possible must be able to train in their home countries and compete in world championship selections,” says Stefan Ruf, president of the organizing committee Powerman Zofingen. Referring to the COVID-19 situation in Switzerland, Ruf says: “A pure World Championships without open long distance categories, short distance, Powerkids and charity races is not an option for us.”
Together with the International Federation World Triathlon (WT), it has now been decided to make use of the previously defined alternative date of September 19, 2021. This is also in the interest of the local and national sponsors, who want to see as broad a field of participants as possible.
World Triathlon – until recently known as the International Triathlon Union ITU – had already confirmed in mid-2020 that in 2021 Zofingen is scheduled for the official World Triathlon Powerman Long Distance Duathlon World Championships (10 km run course, 150 km bike course, 30 km run course).
Optimized bike course
Accordingly, Zofingen expects the race to be held in the current year. The bike course has been further optimized; the historical town will be bypassed in the process. “We have never had such a safe bike course in the history of the Powerman Zofingen,” says Stefan Ruf. The level of difficulty is comparable to the previous routes, he adds.
Support from sponsors
The Powerman Zofingen can expect the support of the sponsors also this year: The Powerman is supported by the main sponsors Vanoli, Swisslos, ZT Medien and gaz-energie (together with StWZ Energie). Likewise, the Powerman Zofingen hopes to receive financial support from the federal government, the canton and the city of Zofingen. The organization is based on voluntary work.
Now the organizers are focusing on May 30, 2021, as the date for the Long Distance World Championships. World Triathlon (WT) – until recently known as the International Triathlon Union ITU – had already confirmed in the middle of this year that in 2021 Zofingen (Switzerland) is scheduled for the official WT Powerman Long Distance Duathlon World Championships (10 km run, 150 km bike, 30 km run). If May 30, 2021 is not feasible due to Covid-19 then September 19, 2021 is set as an alternate date.
Athletes from Switzerland and Europe in general will be even more widely represented in 2021. However, not only those athletes who originally registered for Powerman Zofingen 2020 will be at the start. Registrations are possible until May 30, 2021. By the way: All athletes who do not want to participate in 2021 will have their entry fee refunded upon request.
The situation regarding sporting events is unpredictable, Markus Bindschädler says in a statement. “Nevertheless, we are now looking optimistically into the future and planning in scenarios for 2021. Always for the sport, always for the passion and always for an important contribution to society and health. Voluntary, of course – a Swiss trademark that is unique in the world.”
After the situation around COVID-19 has worsened again in Switzerland and worldwide in the last weeks, ITU, IPA and Swiss Triathlon together with the authorities and the local organizing committee have decided to postpone the ITU Long Distance Duathlon World Championships in Zofingen to 2021. Of particular relevance are the stricter entry restrictions to Switzerland and the increased protection requirements for major events. All races of the event weekend are affected by the postponement.
The partners involved have decided to reschedule all races of the Powerman Zofingen to May 29 and 30, 2021. ITU has confirmed that the Powerman Zofingen will be the official ITU Powerman Long Distance Duathlon World Championship on May 30, 2021.
The Powerman Zofingen thanks that so many athletes have registered despite the prevailing uncertainties. The registrations will be transferred to the 2021 event and the registration portal remains open.
See you in Zofingen, end of May 2021
The sports year 2020 is a huge challenge for athletes, federations, organisers and all of us.
Today, tomorrow and perhaps even in the years to come, we have to face completely new standards for sporting events. This means a great deal of extra work for the organisers and requires understanding and tolerance from the athletes. Whether or not an event can finally be held on the planned date is not guaranteed. It may even have to be cancelled unexpectedly at very short notice due to binding force majeure conditions, government directives or any other reasons.
At this point in time, the national regulations of the Swiss government allow the staging of an event of the size of the ITU Powerman World Championships, but this is still connected with uncertainties. The International Powerman Association IPA and Swiss Triathlon are striving to hold the event within the given possibilities and are continuously coordinating with the ITU and local authorities further steps.
We will inform regularly and, if necessary, immediately about further developments.
Should the race in 2020 have to be cancelled at a later date, the starting places will be transferred to 2021.
We had planned to communicate on the 20.06.2020 about the decision to hold the ITU Powerman LD Duathlon World Championships event September 20, 2020. It will take a few more days to coordinate the new rules of the Swiss government, valid from June 22nd, with the local authorities and to exchange the results with the national and international federation. We are convinced that it is in the interest of all parties to make the best possible decision and hope for your understanding.
As you all might think, in the current situation there are many reasons against an implementation and many reasons for an implementation.
We would like to examine the new facts seriously and for this purpose we need time until the end of June and will communicate a decision on July 1, 2020.
Thank you very much for your patience and understanding.
OK ITU Powerman LD Duathlon World Championships Zofingen
PS: Entry Fees won’t be risen by 01.07. and stay at same amount till 31.07.
Dear athletes, partners and friends!
Every day we can read thousands of information on the current pandemic situation in medias. Based on this information, it is still not possible to make reliable forecasts as to whether sport events such as the Powerman Zofingen can take place in September. The LOC of the Powerman will wait until June 20th – that is three months before the race – and decide based on the then available knowledge and regulations. The LOC remains optimistic and still hopes to be able to communicate a “GO” on June 20th.