2 Jun 2024

Let’s race… Challenge Gallipoli

A recent addition to Challenge Family's race calendar, Challenge Gallipoli offers up an incredible blend of history, rugged scenery and a tough - but fun - course to boot. Writer and endurance athlete Katherine Brook takes a look at why you should consider hitting 'enter now' on this exciting middle distance triathlon.
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Katherine Brook

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Discover the Historical National Park of the Gallipoli Peninsula with the Challenge Gallipoli middle distance race. Run and cycle through the battlefields of WW1 and swim in the shadows of the battle-marked landscapes. Katherine Brook guides you through everything you need to know from the course to where to stay during the race.

There are few race locations that carry such rich history as Challenge Gallipoli, so it’s easy to see why this has become such a popular race for triathletes. Gallipoli actually derives its name from the Greek word ‘Kallipolis’, meaning ‘Beautiful City’, so you can expect to be distracted by beautiful views, pine forests, monuments and more, as you make your way around the unique course.

Experience the rugged beauty and rich history of Gallipoli

Location - A journey through history

Taking place in the heart of the Gallipoli Historical Area, in north western Turkey, this is possibly one of the most compelling races in the Challenge portfolio. Gallipoli was one of the defining battles of the first World War, and as such, the area is steeped in history. Weaving in and out of the battle-scarred landscape, past memorials, castles and ruins, the city shares its story with you as you pay your respects along the course.

From the historical landmarks to the food and drink, experience Turkish culture at its best.

Why race... Challenge Gallipoli

This unique triathlon offers an experience beyond the swim, cycle and run. It’s a chance to discover the events that shaped our future, not to mention the outstanding natural beauty and Turkish hospitality.

The race is set Anzac the heart of the Gallipoli Historical Area
Swim in the ANZAC Cove, famous as the landing spot of the Anzac
Cycle and run through battlefields and memorials of World War I

Course - Sharp climbs and rugged scenery

A challenging course but one of historical significance. From the 1.9k swim in Anzac Cove to the spicy, steep bike climbs and looped run around the Historical Area.

Swim - 1.9km / 1.2 miles

The swim begins at Old Gendarmerie Pier, where athletes enter the balmy 20°C waters for a circular swim in the bay, before entering Transition 1.

BIke - 90km / 56 miles

Expect a beautiful - but challenging - bike route, with some sharp climbs across the single loop course, winding along the coast. The route starts by heading towards Kemikli Cove - the furthest point. Then heads inland to Buyuk Anafarta, across to a big climb at Conkbayiri Hill, and back along the coastline of Zigindere. The first half is faster, with smaller rolling hills, but don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security… The second half is where they say the ride really begins.

Run - 21.1km / 13.1 miles

The run is completed over three laps. Starting from Anzac Cove, it follows the coastline before turning around and going back along the same path, giving you plenty of time to take in the historical landmarks.

Race training & prep

As with any triathlon, this is a race that requires training and preparation. The swim is in open water, so we recommend doing a few open water swims prior to race day, especially if an indoor pool is your usual training ground.

On the bike, you’ll be covering just under 900m of elevation, with three challenging hills, and a couple of short but spicy climbs, so we definitely recommend incorporating hill training into your bike rides to prepare you for the course. If you want to really get a feel for the course, you can ride the route using ROUVY – the virtual reality indoor cycling platform.

If you arrive in Gallipoli a few days before race day, there are also plenty of trails and paths to run and cycle, if you want to become familiar with the route. The Peninsula is also surrounded by plenty of beaches, including Kabatepe village, where you’ll find Brighton Beach for a swim.

Travel & accommodation

From Istanbul airport, Gallipoli is about a 3.5 hour drive. Canakkale airoprt is just 52 minutes away, but there are fewer direct flights. Once you reach the city, getting around is easy, whether you choose to use public transport or hire a car. There is a train station in Gallipoli and many bus routes, which travel along the coast, and even a regular ferry, if you have time to get out to sea before or after the race.

Most of the accommodation is about 10k from the race venue, such as Başarır Otel and Konukevi Guest House. Kurn Otel is just 2.5km from the race start, in the bay of the blue waters of Saros Gulf – perfect if you don’t want to travel too far on the race morning. There are also plenty of Air BnBs and guest houses.

Spectators - Where to see your athletes

Spectators can watch the whole swim from the foreshore, cheer their athletes off on the bike and catch them multiple times on the run, as they loop around the course. If you have a car, you could drive out along the cycling route, to catch the cyclists at certain spots. Otherwise, most people tend to congregate around the swim start, near Old Gendarmerie Pier, and the finish.

Race-cation - A city of culture

If you’ve never visited Gallipoli before, we highly recommend staying for a few days post race to do some sightseeing. The city is full of historic buildings, and along the peninsula, rolling fields, memorials and castles await you.

The first stop on your cultural tour has to be the Helles Memorial, which is permanently open and can be visited at any time. The Helles Memorial serves the dual function of Commonwealth battle memorial for the whole Gallipoli campaign and place of commemoration for many of those Commonwealth servicemen who died there and have no known grave. Over 20,000 names are commemorated on this memorial.

Another memorial to visit is Lone Pine Memorial, a site which looks over the whole front line from 1915, as well as Chunuk Bair New Zealand Memorial, and Martyrs’ Memorial.

The Ancient City of Troy, located within the provincial borders of Çanakkale and 30k from the centre, near Tevfikiye and Ciplak villages, is an important location where trade routes meet between the two continents.

For a change of scenery, why not take a ferry over to Gokceada, where you can relax on the beach, wander around the traditional Greek villages, and feast on traditional Turkish food.

Experience the rugged beauty and rich history of Gallipoli

Race in the footsteps of soldiers who made history as you swim, bike and run through one of Europe’s most culture-filled landscapes, with thousands of spectators cheering you along.

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