Images courtesy Super League Triathlon

By Kent Gray/
Glory before greenbacks might not be as familiar a triathlon refrain as ‘Death before DNF’ but it’s no less pertinent in a sport where even elite participants have long struggled to cobble together a decent living.

The emergence of Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO) racing and Super League Triathlon (SLT) has thankfully helped turn the fiscal tide, at least for the very best. Phenoms like Hayden Wilde for example, just in case you were looking for a heartening and proudly patriotic exemplar.

The Kiwi No.1 is on the verge of a potential US$185,000 (NZ$322,899) payday presuming he can cap his season-long SLT dominance at the series grand finale in Neom, Saudi Arabia in the early hours of Sunday morning (NZT).

Wilde has already amassed $85,000 courtesy of victories ($20,000 each) in London, Malibu and Toulouse, an additional $10,000 for his season worst third placing in Munich and $15,000 for his unassailable lead in the individual run discipline leaderboard

The Whakatane Falcon is also involved in a tight tussle for the bike discipline title with co-leader Israeli Shachar Sagiv (Cheetahs) and Portugal’s Vasco Vilaca (Rhinos). Nothing is a given in triathlon but presuming Wilde’s renowned bike handling shines through in the desert, he could ride away with another $15,000, an outcome that would go a long way to also securing another $20,000 race victory.

Indeed, a perfect day in Neom would likely propel the table-topping and Wilde-inspired Sharks to the overall teams title with the Kiwi talisman worth every penny of his $15,000 cut of the $120,000 set aside for the champion team.

The great news for New Zealand is that Tayler Reid and Nicole van der Kaay are also key members of the Michelle Dillion-managed Sharks. It means a $15,000 bonus is a distinct possibility for van der Kaay who has $5000 locked up for three-top 10s before her elimination during the last round in Toulouse. The Taupo 26-year-old will be out to at least maintain her 10th placing overall which carries an additional $1000 in prize money.

Reid, meanwhile, could finish the season with a payday in excess of $50,000 (NZ$87,000) with a solid final hoorah in Saudi. The Gisborne 26-year-old has already banked $14,000 for 8th, 6th, 7th and 5th placings, has an outside shot at the swim discipline title and is currently 3rd in the overall standings which would seal another $25,000.

Tayler Reid embraces Sharks and Kiwi teammate Hayden Wilde after SLT Toulouse.

There are more points on offer at the season finale so Reid has an even better chance to overhaul Matt Hauser for second place overall. Conversely, if cannot haul in the big Aussie, Reid will fight to the last to keep all or as many of Japan’s Kenji Nener, Brit Jonathan Brownlee, Vilaca, Sharks team-mate Chase McQueen, Sagiv and South African Jamie Riddle behind him and the finish line.

Expects fireworks from the get-go in Neom as Reid will need to secure the swim points and hope Riddle finishes outside the top three swim times to take the discipline specific $15,000 blue jersey title.

SLT Neom is LIVE on Sky Sport 2 (Channel 052) from 12.01am Sunday NZ with the women’s race taking the gun at 00.20am and the men’s decider set to go at 1.40am. The finale will be raced over SLT’s ‘Enduro’ format, essentially nine back-to-back swim, bike, runs with no breaks.

The finale is part of the first Neom Beach Games which will also feature kite-surfing, 3×3 basketball, beach soccer and mountain-biking.

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