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For one day only, the vibrant city of Barcelona closes its streets, to allow triathletes to take on one of the most iconic courses in Europe. With six different race distances, Olympic, Sprint, Super Sprint, Aquathlon, Elite Short, and even a Junior Race, Challenge Barcelona offers something for all levels: beginners, intermediates and professionals.
There’s also a pairs category – available across all distances – for participants who prefer to race side by side and cross the finish line together. And if team sports are more your thing, then the Olympic and Sprint distances offer a relay category (teams of two or three).
Location - race meets city break
A city rich in culture and architecture, Barcelona is a beautiful place to race – and stay for a city break after too. Enjoy views of the coastline while swimming in the protected waters of Mar Bella beach, and take in landmark after landmark as you bike, and run through the urban streets and along the seafront.
Barcelona is a well connected city, making it easy to travel to the race, whether it’s by plane, car, boat or train. Just 16 km from Barcelona Airport, it’s a short drive away from the centre of the city, where the race takes place, and Barcelona has ample parking, too. If you’re not planning on hiring a car, then the Metro and tram make getting around the metropolitan area effortless, and there’s also a bus service too. Additionally, there’s a public bike hire scheme, with over 200 km of bike lanes. It’s the best way to travel around Barcelona, and also the most sustainable.
The gastronomic scene in Barcelona is absolutely wonderful, boasting everything from Michelin star restaurants to quaint cafes serving local tapas – one of the main reasons we recommend staying a for a few days post race is to soak up the buzzing atmosphere and delicious food. Make sure to try some traditional Catalan dishes, like Esqueixada de bacallà (cod with tomatoes, red peppers, black olives and olive oil), Arròs negre (a squid ink Paella), and Pamtomaquet (Catalan’s version of Bruschetta or Pan Con Tomate, as they say in Spanish).
Course - flat, fast & fun
The main hub of the competition is the Mar Bella Athletics Tracks, where the Bicycle Park (transition area), the finish area, and the athletes’ recovery area will be located. The beach of Mar Bella, right in front of the slopes, is where the swimming segment (start and end) takes place.
Challenge Barcelona is a great race for all abilities – amateurs, professionals and even juniors – thanks to the variety of different distances offered. Moreover, the seaswim is calm and doesn’t go too deep, and the bike and run courses are very flat, winding through the city and along the beachfront. You’ll have so much to keep you entertained, from the cultural sites to the cheering crowd, that the miles will fly by. If you’ve never done a triathlon before, then Barcelona is a great place to start.
Swim - 300 / 750 / 1500M
For all of the races, the swim takes place in the protected Mar Bella beach, offering views of the entire coastline of Barcelona. Generally, the outside temperature is a warm 24°C, and the water a balmy 21°C, so wetsuits won’t be necessary.
BIke - 7 / 20 / 40KM
The bike course winds through the wide avenues near the seafront. It’s fast and flat, with very minimal elevation. The only thing to watch out for here are the tight corners, so cyclists might want to practise their urban cycling. The Elite Short does a loop around the Parc de la Ciutadella, before coming back towards the Pista Atletisme La Mar Bella (Mar Bella Athletics Track) where the bike and run transitions take place. If you can, remember to look up at the beautiful buildings!
Run - 1.5 / 2.5 / 5 / 10KM
The run starts and finishes at the Athletics Track, then goes out and back along the promenade. Feel the warmth of the sun, breath in the salty sea air and listen to the cheer of the crowds as you go.
Spectators - cheers the whole way
With so many viewing points on each discipline, you can rely on the crowd’s cheers to carry you around this race. Spectators can watch the whole swim from the foreshore, catch their favourites multiple times on the bike as they wind through the streets, and even cheer runners on from the beach as they head along the promenade.
It’s very family friendly, as at all these locations you can find a cafe for refreshments. The central point of the Athletics Track, where the run and bike transition is, is also a great spot to head to, and there’s more chance of being able to see your favourites / offer words of encouragement to loved ones.
Race-cation - a city of culture
If you’ve never visited Barcelona before, we highly recommend staying for a few days post race to do some sightseeing. The Catalan capital is a bustling city, with a thriving cultural centre, outstanding architecture, a buzzing nightlife and incredible restaurant scene.
The first stop on your cultural tour has to be the Sagrada Família. Towering high above the city, you can miss it. Next, visit Casa Amatller, where at the end of the tour guests are given a chocolate gift – you have to visit to find out why.
Take an afternoon stroll down the city’s most famous street, Las Ramblas. The boulevard is home to attractions like the Gran Teatre del Liceu opera house and the Liceu Theatre. There’s also a market, with a variety of different stalls, from artisanal produce to local food.
A great way to get around the city is to use the ‘Hop on Hop off’ bus, which winds through the streets, taking you on a tour of the most interesting and attractive sites. You can get on and off as you please, with a 24 or 48-hour ticket.
For some downtime, head to one of the many beaches or grab a nice cold beer in the old town.
If you’re travelling with children, Portaventura Park and Ferrari Land is home to the fastest vertical accelerator in Europe, as well as many other attractions – fun for all the family.