The Ayia Napa Triathlon (www.ayianapatriathlon.com) takes place on 21-22 March 2020 on the island of Cyprus. It offers a great option for an early season race in the sun.
TRI247’s Andy Tomlinson takes a look at the race to find out why it is fast becoming a popular destination for UK triathletes.
Language: Greek and Turkish plus good English
Currency: Euro (€)
Local time: (GMT+2:00)
Average flight time from UK: 4.5 hrs
Cyprus is just a 4.5 hour flight from the UK and has always been a popular destination for UK travellers. Ayia Napa is a resort at the far south eastern coast of Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean, south of Turkey and is just a 40minute drive from the largest airport at Larnaca.
Larnaca International Airport is Cyprus’ main International gateway and is the recommended airport closest to the race and the Official Race Hotel, Nissi Beach Resort. From the UK most airports have departures to Larnaca and you can check them out HERE.
Paphos International Airport is the other popular alternative for visitors to Cyprus and it is located on the island’s south western coast. Again, there are plenty of UK flights and it is a two hour drive to the event resort (check out the flights HERE).
As with most popular holiday destinations there are plenty of low cost airlines servicing the island and if you can book early there are plenty of great flight deals to be had.
The peak travel season is from May to October where the weather on the island is the hottest with very little rain. The climate in mid-March is warm (mid to late teens) and a great way to warm up after all that winter training.
Known for its beautiful beaches, Ayia Napa has gone through a transformation over the last few years. The resort has set out to make Ayia Napa “the most cosmopolitan tourist resort of the Mediterranean” and the triathlon has been helping that. There are still bars and nightclubs, but the clientele is somewhat less ’18-30’s’, and you will find more of a sophisticated visitor now enjoying the sandy beaches, clear waters and stunning sunsets.
Sport has always played a big part in island life for both locals and tourists. With stunning beaches and clear water it is no surprise that water sports has always been very strong on the island, but in recent years both cycling and running have gained in popularity. For cycling, the island offers challenging terrain with good weather and great scenery. For running, there are a number of running clubs and a healthy event scene from 5k to marathons and ultras. Triathlon is also prospering; not only in terms of races but for triathletes visiting the island to get some swim, bike and run training in.
As in the UK, driving in Cyprus is on the left and most of the road signs are similar to the ones in the UK so you should feel at home. Generally the roads are quiet with bike-friendly drivers and some challenging climbs to get your heart rate up. The visitcyprus.com site has some cycle routes you can download to your GPS and gives you a good idea as to the different variety of rides you can do.
There will be plenty of cyclists and athletes training on the island and a lot of them will be taking part in the Ayia Napa Triathlon. The Polyansky brothers, Daniela Ryf and many others have cycled the friendly roads, especially at the start of the season when the roads have less traffic.
Taking your bike
Bike hire on Cyprus is readily available from various shops close to the resort, so you could consider travelling without your own bike. If you do take your own bike those shops can be just as useful if you need spares, mechanical help, servicing or just some friendly advise on where to ride. If you are racing, many/most athletes will want to take their own bikes and pre-booking this is well advised. How much it will cost will vary depending on which carrier you use, but the (per flight) costs of some of the leading airlines, at the time of writing, include Ryanair (£60), EasyJet (£42), Jet2 – flight details page – (£30), Iberia (€45).
Nireas Triathlon Events
The Ayia Napa Triathlon is organised by Nireas Triathlon, a small group of passionate athletes who set out with the aim of making Nireas the focal point for the sport in Cyprus. That was 24 years ago now and drawing on all those years of event experience, The Ayia Napa triathlon takes place on Saturday 21 March 2020 (Sprint and Olympic), and Sunday 22 March 2020 (Middle Distance).
The Nireas Triathlon aim is to organise high quality events to grow triathlon locally, but also to showcase Cyprus as a first-choice destination for overseas athletes.
Facilities for training
- 25m municipal pool in Paralimni (will be ready by March 2020)
- Nissi Beach Resort 25m outdoor pool
- 25m municipal pool in Larnaca (30 minute drive from Ayia Napa area)
- Paralimni municipal stadium
- Recently completed pedestrian footpath along the Ayia Napa coastline
Spectators and Supporters
It goes without saying that if you are not racing then there is plenty to do and see during your stay. If you want to venture away from the resort then March is the perfect time do a bit of hiking. Cape Greko Park is a 5-10 minute drive away from Ayia Napa by car and offers superb walking and is a National Reserve Park with plenty of other activities to take in such as jeep safaris and cliff jumping for the braver visitor! You can find out more HERE.
A recent addition to the area is the Sculpture Park offering a relaxing and different experience and is growing with new installations being added. If you are looking for the old then the Medieval Monastery of Ayia Napa is close by and forms one of many sites worthy of a visit on your trip, athletes or spectators alike.
The Nissi Beach Resort Special Accommodation Offer
The race village is in and around the well known Nissi Beach which stretches for 500 meters around its own cove. The host hotel is The Nissi Beach Resort which makes an ideal base for athletes, families and supporters as it is set in the heart of the race village next to the start, finish and transition area. There is plenty to see in the area and if you need a distraction from training then you are in the right place.
Nissi Beach Resort is the proud co-sponsor of the Ayia Napa Triathlon, the most prestigious triathlon competition in Cyprus. Make sure you book your room to get the most out of the race and your time on Cyprus. The resort has several special offer rates for all athletes and their entourage, including family members.
You can check out the special event offers for the resort HERE.
This is the most prestigious triathlon in Cyprus. The course is flat and fast and, together with the incredible scenery, guarantees a unique experience. Ayia Napa is the perfect race for you whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned competitor. All the events are based around the same course but the loops will differ depending on your chosen race. You can read about the 2019 event HERE and find out how brit athlete Chantal Cummings got on. Spoiler… she did rather well!
While you’re browsing, here is the photo gallery from the 2019 event.
During the course of the weekend if you want to do a bit more than relax there are plenty of things to keep you moving such as the new Open Water Swim event on Friday.
The Middle Distance race will probably be the key focus for travelling UK competitors, so we had a look at the swim, bike and run sections for that event:
Middle Distance Swim
The swim is a mass start, with two (anti-clockwise) loops, starting and finishing at Nissi Beach. The water is lovely and clear and with the beach being within a cove is generally protected from the elements. Get the right conditions here and you should be able to PB… providing you have the fitness, of course!
Middle Distance Bike
The bike leaves Nissi Beach heading east and climbs a two mile route onto the main road into Ayia Napa. Riders then ride on the looped course that takes you out towards, and through Ayia Napa forest. After you have completed your laps (five), it is then back along the two miles of road to transition which is all downhill. The total ascent of the middle distance bike course is 846m and although rolling, should again provide for some fast times.
Middle Distance Run
The run heads out of T2 to the west and is a three loop course on cycle paths and some flat gravel paths. After the first mile the run route heads towards the sea and then back up again for a long stretch back to T2 and then back out again. Total ascent on the run is 104m.
You can check out all the race routes, including those for the Sprint and Olympic distance event HERE.
Get a feel for the race by watching the 2019 highlights video:
Race registration is through their online system. Entry is not available on the day and spaces are limited so get in quick if this looks like a decent start to 2020. P
You can also check out the Ayia Napa Triathlon social media pages on these links:
Special Clubs Offer:
Discounts for clubs and groups! If a group of you are planning on heading to the event, the organisers are offering a ranges of offers and assistance:
- A special price to groups of ten persons or more: 10% off the current price
- Help with group registration and the payment process
- Help with transfers from and to airport
- Help with accommodation logistics and price
Contact [email protected] for details.