The Iowa-based supermarket chain Hy-Vee plans to put up seven-hundred-thousand dollars in prizes to draw the world’s top professionals to a World Cup Triathlon in Des Moines on June 17, 2007. Hunter Kemper finished second in last week’s World Cup Triathlon in Australia and he intends to compete in Des Moines in 2007. “It’s a great lifestyle for me but it’s also a great sport that I truly enjoy,” Kemper says. “I started doing triathlons when I was 10 years old.”

Kemper says he enjoys racing and competing — and the Olympic distance. “For me, it’s all about the Olympics,” he says. Race organizers expect athletes from around the world because the professionals who participate will earn points to help them qualify for the Olympics in 2008.

Susan Williams, a bronze medalist in the Olympic triathlon in 2004, plans to compete in Des Moines next year, too. “It’s just a wonderful lifestyle. I actually met my husband, Tim, through the sport…so it’s a big part of our life,” Williams says. She says it’s provided the couple with wonderful opportunities for travel, including her trip to Des Moines today (Friday) for the kick-off announcement of the 2007 event.

Williams says she’s developed special friendships with lots of other athletes, and on Friday morning she met with members of the Des Moines Triathlon Club. The Iowa event will offer the richest purse in the history of professional triathons and Des Moines will become just the fourth American city to ever host a World Cup Triathlon, which Kemper says is huge. “It’s a huge deal, I don’t know if you guys truly understand,” Kemper told reporters at a news conference this (Friday) morning on the steps of the Iowa statehouse. “Compared to golf, it’s going to be the masters of triathlons so to speak.” The triathletes will swim, run and bike through Iowa’s capitol city. Hy-Vee plans to host other health and wellness events on the race weekend, including a triathlon for amateurs and kids’ race.