Zwift Tri Battle Royale will see Jan Frodeno and Lionel Sanders go head to head in a real-life iron-distance race in Germany on 18 July.

Set to epitomise the purity of triathlon’s athletic endeavour, the Zwift Tri Battle Royale is a one-on-one duel between three-time Ironman Hawaii winner Jan Frodeno and multiple Ironman champion and Canadian hour-record holder Lionel Sanders.

While the event’s title sponsor is Zwift, and both athletes are keen Zwifters, this will be a real-world battle in Allgäu, Germany, over the full iron distance – 3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42.2km run.

The event will come just three weeks after Sanders takes on Ironman Coeur d’Alene on 27 June in an attempt to secure his slot for Kona. The race is also just under six weeks before a possible rematch for the pair at the Collins Cup on 28 August.

It’s a challenge through which both athletes are looking forward to testing themselves – and each other.

“This no distractions head-to-head battle is what sport is about,” says Frodeno. “I have the highest respect for Lionel and the idea of racing him motivates me to get up every day and continue to improve; take myself to the next level.”

Jan Frodeno Zwift Tri Battle Royale
Jan Frodeno already holds the iron-distance world record – could he go even faster against Sanders? (Photo: Tri Battle Royale)

“He is the rising star of our sport, but I am not willing to step down just yet,” continues Frodeno. “Lionel is an incredible athlete and one of my fiercest competitors. He was more than up for the challenge.”

“This event is the opportunity of a lifetime,” says Sanders. “I have spent 10 years honing my head-to-head racing abilities. I don’t think anyone has as much experience as I do in mano-a-mano type racing. So to get the opportunity to showcase my biggest strength against the best guy in the world is truly an opportunity I cannot pass up. A victory over Jan would likely be the highlight of my entire career.”

Lionel Sanders vs Jan Frodeno
Lionel Sanders has long held the desire to go toe-to-toe with Frodeno. (Photo: Talbot Cox)

Race organiser and Frodeno’s manager Felix Rüdiger, added: “We are proud to get this idea off the ground and we have a vision we are working on day and night from now until the event. We had many race organisers and brand partners reach out, excited about the potential of an event.

“We have chosen to partner with Zwift to put together a stand alone race, free of distractions and other competitors so that we can focus solely on the IRL battle between Jan and Lionel.”

Zwift Tri Battle Royale Coverage

The exhibition race is designed to showcase the perfect duel between these two triathlon titans, inspiring triathlon fans, the endurance community as a whole and reaching a much wider audience too.

To that end, the Zwift Tri Battle Royale will have a live global broadcast spanning over eight hours on 18 July, said by organisers to boast ‘a production level you would expect of any large sporting event’.

The coverage will include guests, expert panellists, race analytics, virtual components and plenty of shots highlighting this picture-postcard region of southern Germany.

Zwift Tri Battle Royale Course and Rules

The venue of Allgäu was chosen partly for its beauty but also because of the interest and support organisers have already received from the local community and authorities. The sparsely populated area also means minimum complications for COVID while the spectacular landscape should also offer an extremely fast course.

“Allgäu has always represented a happy place for me,” says Frodeno. “I raced here on my birthday previously, and I am extremely grateful for the assistance they have already provided us in making this event possible.”

The day will start with a four-lap, 3.8km swim in Grossen Alpsee Lake. Frodeno and Sanders will then take on a 180km closed and fast time trial bike leg made up of five loops. Finally a full 42.2km marathon made up of four 10.55km circuits to crown the victor.

The organisers have confirmed that all long-distance international triathlon rules will be adhered to. While there are no details on what the drafting distance will be, it will be a non-drafting event with no illegal tactics, no outside support and no pacemakers. The inclusion of the last point in the announcement would seem to reference the Sub7 Sub8 Project, which, like the Nike sub-two attempt, features athlete assistance.

While it’s highly unlikely that either athlete will break seven hours at this showcase race, with Sanders piling on the pressure to chase him down, Frodeno (or both of these stars) could feasibly go under the current iron-distance world record. That’s Frodo’s own mark of 7:35:39 at Challenge Roth in 2016.

There will be more announcements regarding details of the event and the partners involved over the next month. Stay up to date at the Tri Battle Royale website and on @tri.battle on Instagram and @tri.battle on Twitter.

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