The Night of Duathlon, coupled with the partner event of Powerman Zofingen, is increasingly becoming a kind of "Swiss Awards of Duathlon." Over 100 guests and athletes participated in the magnificent gala at Youcinema Oftringen. They were overshadowed by Melanie Maurer. The 35-year-old athlete from Wikon once again was named Duathlete of the Year. Among the men, the 22-year-old Ticinese Andrea Alagona claimed this coveted award.
The 35th Powerman Zofingen, the toughest but also most beautiful duathlon in the world, is scheduled for September 7-8, 2024. This marks the 16th time as a World Championship event, following 1997, 1998, 1999, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022, and 2023. Notably, it's the 13th consecutive time held at the same location, a unique feat in the world of triathlon and duathlon. Equally unique is the gala named "Night of Duathlon," professionally and ceremoniously organized, featuring prominent figures from sports, politics, and business.
New Appearance, New Team
At the beginning of the gala, Event Director Stefan Ruf announced that the organizing committee (OK), comprising around 40 members, has successfully recruited over a dozen new volunteers. "This makes me very proud, as many of them are young individuals who are passionate about the Powerman Zofingen," stated Ruf. While expressing gratitude for the new additions, he also mentioned that there is still a need for additional personnel in the areas of safety and sustainability.
Ruf emphasized the importance of the event's new external image. In this context, he introduced the brochure "Sponsoring and Partnerships." "Without sponsors and supporters, nothing would be possible," Ruf emphasized. "We offer new online modules with extensive reach, have over 50,000 Facebook followers, more than 10,000 participant addresses, and continue to invest in a professional TV live production with an 8-hour livestream, reaching approximately 200,000 viewers. A newly designed website, www.powerman.swiss, featuring an online visualization of the competition area, is also part of the updated image. The platforms 'Business Lunches' and 'Night of Duathlon' strengthen the network between athletes and the political and business community."
Christian Koch, Head of the Sports Department of the Canton of Aargau and representative of the Swisslos-Sportfonds, has personally participated in the Powerman Zofingen short distance four times. "It is a top-notch event in the Canton of Aargau with international appeal, very well organized, especially challenging in terms of requirements, and beautifully embedded in nature," he expressed. Overall, sponsors have shown great enthusiasm for the Powerman Zofingen. "It is a great pleasure for me to support Powerman Zofingen as a sponsor and as a member of the Advisory Board," said Olivier Annaheim, CEO of Condecta AG. "The Powerman Zofingen has been a major event for decades, and as a Zofingen-based company, we are very happy to sponsor it," added Thomas Aeschlimann from Lehmann 2000 AG. "Today's event was very exciting, attractive, and top-notch in terms of quality," praised Martin Bhend, owner of mbcs consulting&services GmbH and property match ag.
Praise Hymn of a Top Athlete
A true giant in the world of duathlon and triathlon gladly returned to the Zofingen region: Ronnie Schildknecht. The 44-year-old from Zurich delivered a keynote speech on "how to market a top star" at the Night of Duathlon. He emphasized the growing importance of digital marketing and online promotion and activation of athletes: "Nowadays, an athlete almost needs a house photographer who is always present, capturing moments everywhere." The owner of I-Ron Sport Marketing is a nine-time Ironman Switzerland champion (between 2007 and 2016, with no victory only in 2014), celebrated Ironman victories in Florida in 2011 and South Africa in 2013, Vice World Champion in 2007 in Duathlon Middle Distance, and a seven-time Duathlon Swiss champion. He participated in his first long-distance race in 2002 – in Zofingen, where he immediately secured the 6th place in the World Championships. "I have very fond memories of Powerman Zofingen, a cool top event that always brought me a lot of joy, and I hope to continue watching it as a spectator whenever possible in the future. Unfortunately, a Powerman Zofingen victory is missing from my palmares." To thunderous applause in Oftringen, Schildknecht received the Lifetime Award for his dedicated and valuable contributions to the world of duathlon sports.
Duathletes of the year
After the introduction of the Swiss Duathlon National Team and the honoring of the top performers in the Duathlon Series 2023, 33-year-old Benjamin Ueltschi from Zurich received the "Rookie of the Year 2023" award. The 35-year-old athlete from Wikon, Melanie Maurer, and the 22-year-old athlete from Ticino, Andrea Alagona, were honored as the "Duathletes of the Year 2023." "It was a very nice evening, and it's very cool that Powerman Zofingen repeatedly invites such interesting and successful speakers who have an understanding of our sport, as was the case today with Ronnie Schildknecht," praised the 2022 world champion and three-time Vice World Champion (2018, 2019, and 2023) in Duathlon Long Distance. "If I continue to make the desired progress in swimming, I will initially compete at Ironman Thun on July 7th and then decide on a possible participation in the 35th Powerman Zofingen afterward." The defending champion, Merle Brunnée from Germany, will certainly be part of the event on September 8, 2024: "Powerman Zofingen is something very special for me, not only because of the beautiful gold medal but also because of the very challenging and fantastic course and top-notch organization."
The awards were presented by Marc Widmer, who stepped down from his position as Duathlon Director at Swiss Triathlon. Widmer, who received a Special Award from Stefan Ruf, said, "In my five years in office, we managed to change structures and establish a strategic concept." The implementation is now in the hands of Swiss national Thomas Mächler. The former floorball player, with a completed sports management degree from the University of Applied Sciences Graubünden, brings optimal qualifications. A focus is on youth development, aiming to build a strong foundation and successfully introduce young athletes to the sport of duathlon. Simultaneously, additional races are planned to be added to the 2025 calendar. Text: Raphael Galliker
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Caption: An illustrious quartet that made particularly positive headlines at the Night of Duathlon in Oftringen, from left: Ronnie Schildknecht (Lifetime Award), Andrea Alagona and Melanie Maurer (Duathletes of the Year 2023), and Marc Widmer (Special Award). Photo: Manuel Geisser