Swim caps and cycle helmets off to the people behind ITU’s debut in the Gulf with the triathlon in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, which proved to be a successful first outing.
There were concerns ahead of the event that it ‘wouldn’t be as good’ as its exhibition predecessor, the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon, which had been much-loved, and well supported, over the previous years.
Changes there were a plenty for 2015, gone were the laps around the Yas Island’s formula one track for the olympic and long distance triathletes, gone were the huge communal transition / changing tents with individual pegs for your gear, gone were the pasta-laden briefings at the Hiltonia and the registration at the Rotana Khalidiya Palace.
In its place we got ITU’s more stripped down, efficient organisation. This was a real triathlon with real rankings up for grabs and the frills and fripperies removed, all your race gear next to your bike and nothing else in transition. Plus, if you missed the on-site briefings then you had to find your way as best you could on the day.
This inevitably led to a few pre-event quibbles, but on the day the organisation proved equal to the challenge. The courses were so well laid out that it was impossible to go wrong or get lost, maybe the bike lanes got a little tight in places along the Corniche (though remarkably little drafting reported), but all in all it was a thumbs up for the new look and the new location.
The 2,000 plus competitors were blessed with still, if chilly, waters, and a haze which kept Abu Dhabi’s sunshine to a bearable temperature. The wind may have added a little extra challenge to the bike leg, but runners were glad of the breeze.
Attempting my first Olympic event I was thrilled to cross the line in 3.19 rather than four hours plus I predicted (me being very much the amateur). Not that I have an official time mind you, due to a mix-up with timing chips (read my grumpy complaint and Premier Timing’s hilarious response here).
So what comes next? Check out premieronline to plan your next event before the heat really sweeps in. And if you are planning ahead November will see the return of the Dubai International Triathlon, that will include a half-Iron Man distance (tempting).
Stay tuned because as challenging as that might be, it looks like Muscat in Oman could soon be raising the stakes with its own horrifically hilly half-Iron Man distance in the future as part of the Challenge family. Check out the video here from Muscat Triathlon Club, it strikes me with terror.