Whether you’re a qualified athlete competing in Challenge’s flagship event, The Championship. Or a keen age-grouper looking at entering the open middle distance race. In our Challenge Šamorín race guide, long distance triathlete Jenny Lucas-Hill dives into what makes this weekend of triathlon so exciting to be a part of. With tips from pro triathletes Lucy Buckingham and Florian Angert, keep reading to find out everything you need to know to make the most of your Šamorín experience.
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Hit your next personal best at Challenge Family’s iconic flagship event, where a lightning-fast course meets a unique venue to create a race experience like no other.
Alongside the qualification-only Championship race and the open middle distance event. Triathletes also have the option of participating in sprint and Olympic distance races, a ‘Tryathlon’ pool-based super sprint race for beginners, or a dedicated kids’ run for the inspired next generation. With the opportunity to train and race alongside some of triathlon’s top middle distance pros in a world-class Olympic sporting facility, Challenge Šamorín and The Championship offer an incredible experience for competitors and triathlon fans alike.
Location - a triathlon training destination like no other
Sitting on the bank of the Danube River, Šamorín is a small town in Slovakia situated a few miles southeast of the capital of Bratislava. Within easy reach of popular tourist spots such as Vienna and Budapest, Slovakia offers a ‘road less travelled’ destination with plenty of culture, history and stunning natural landscapes to explore – including the popular EuroVelo 6 Atlantic-Black Sea cycling route.
When you think of a triathlon training destination, your mind might automatically cast itself towards the Canary Islands. But x-bionic® sphere, the home to Challenge Šamorín and The Championship, offers up a strong contender for the ultimate alternative triathlon getaway. Equipped with facilities for 26 Olympic sports, this training venue plays host to all the world-class facilities you could dream of to help you get race day ready. From 25m and 50m swimming pools, to an athletics track and a gym complete with an indoor training room equipped with Wahoo turbo trainers. Plus, a wellness centre with several saunas, cold pools and even a salt cave for that all-important recovery.
Šamorín might just become your new favourite triathlon training location.
Athlete & spectator accessibility
Challenge Family welcomes athletes with disabilities, and for the last three years has hosted the Special Olympics European Triathlon Open Competition as part of the Challenge Šamorín event weekend. For athletes and spectators, the organiser states that the race venue is accessible and that there are no restrictions for people with disabilities.
Why race... Challenge The Championship Samorin
For triathletes who’ve qualified for The Championship at another Challenge event, the opportunity to test yourself against the best age-groupers in your category is a chance not to be missed. But for those considering entering the open middle distance race, or one of the short course events, here's why you should be adding Challenge Šamorín to your race calendar:
Course - aero is everything
The course in Šamorín is fast, flat and packed with PB potential – for those who don’t underestimate it. The canal swim is followed by an uber quick bike course, but you’ll need to be able to dial into that aero position to make the most of the flat profile. Heading out of T2, the run takes athletes across a wide variety of terrain with multiple twists and turns to keep things exciting.
Swim - 1.9km
The swim takes place in a canal adjacent to the Danube River, with a turnaround point approximately 3/4 of the way through the 1.9km distance. A top tip from pro triathlete Lucy Buckingham is to "make sure you are aware of the current after the turn point, it can sometimes catch you off guard."
BIke - 90km
The bike course at Šamorín is flat and fast, but it shouldn't be underestimated says pro triathlete Florian Angert: "Practice riding in the aero position for as long as possible. A 90k flat bike course sounds easy but it’s demanding in a completely different way."
Run - 21.1km
Expect the unexpected as you head out of T2 on to the 5-lap run course. Twisting and turning through the x-bionic® sphere venue and Šamorín town itself, athletes will encounter a variety of challenging terrains, including grass and sand. "Practice running off road," says Lucy Buckingham. "Even though the run course is relatively flat it has challenging terrain. It can sometimes be super hot in Šamorín, so also practice taking on fluids when running. In hot conditions the aid stations will be very important!"
Race training & prep
The Championship and Challenge Šamorín offers up a fast, flat course – primed with personal best potential. The canal swim means currents could be a factor, so athletes who can perform some of their open water swim training in a river will be well prepared. To make the most of the flat bike course, spend plenty of time getting dialled into your time trial position. Being able to stay aero and push the power down on the bars will be key for maximising your speed. Typically the draft zone is extended to 20m at The Championship – practice holding that distance with a friend or team mate in the build up to the race so you don’t accidentally pick up any costly drafting penalties. The run course at Šamorín holds its own unique challenge, with athletes encountering a variety of terrain – from grass and sand, to the soft surfaces in the horse stables. It’s well worth incorporating some off road or trail running into your training routine to help you prepare for these slightly more challenging terrains.
Travel & accommodation
Travel to Šamorín is easy, thanks to its location in the heart of Europe. Bratislava airport is just a 20 minute drive away and offers direct flights from many major European cities, with Vienna and Budapest airports also just a short journey away. If you're not booking a hire car, then airport transfers can be easily arranged via Challenge's partner service. The x-bionic® hotel at the race venue itself offers ideal accommodation for race participants, with world-class training facilities, a wellbeing centre and with several restaurants for that all-important pre-race fuel all just a short stroll away from the start line. With Bratislava only a short drive away, those wanting self-catering accommodation or alternative hotels will be spoiled for choice. Camping is also available at the resort itself, or at the Stellplatz caravan park, just 650m away from x-bionic® sphere.
Spectators - be part of the action
Challenge Šamorín and The Championship provides an epic weekend of triathlon for spectators, as well as race participants. In the days prior to the race, the organisers are set to host a series of talks/presentations on various topics which will be open to both athletes and their supporters.
A wide range of side events happening on the Saturday give support crews the opportunity to experience the unique race venue for themselves. From a ‘Tryathlon’ beginners super sprint race, to draft legal Olympic and sprint distance races and a kids’ run. Add in a huge expo and food zone, plus a children’s area complete with inflatables and other family-friendly activities – and there’s plenty going on to keep supporters busy while their athlete gets ready to race.
On race day, the swim at Šamorín is one of the most spectator-friendly swim courses out there – with supporters able to track their athlete’s progress down the canal and cross over to the other side via a bridge to cheer them on. The bike course takes place on closed roads, making it difficult for spectators to get out on the course. But the run sees athletes make their way around the x-bionic® sphere resort on a multi-lap course – giving spectators multiple chances to cheer their athlete on.
With top professional triathletes competing for the $100k prize purse, spectators can expect a race day packed with excitement.
Race-cation - culture and history in the heart of Europe
Along with all of the activities and wellness facilities available at x-bionic® sphere itself, Šamorín is only a short journey away from Slovakia’s capital city of Bratislava. Here you’ll find something for all interests. From the largest war memorial in central Europe, making an iconic mark on the city’s skyline with its 52-metre high stature. To the Primatial Palace (with its Baroque-classicist architecture), or the unique ‘UFO’ observation deck on the SNP bridge, offering a fine culinary experience while you watch the sunset over the sweeping city views. Head down to the popular Eurovea Waterfront area and you’ll also find plenty of cafes, restaurants and shops creating a lively atmosphere along the bank of the Danube River.
Across the river from Old Town Bratislava, is the Garden of Janko Kráľ, Central Europe’s oldest public park. For hikers or mountain bikers, the nearby Devínska Kobyla nature reserve offers beautiful scenery with trails through forests and meadows.
A ‘road less travelled’ destination Slovakia might be, but with it’s range of interesting architecture and scenic countryside you’ll find yourself kept surprisingly busy should you choose to spend a little extra time exploring the country after the race.