The Ayia Napa Triathlon taking place on Sunday, 17 March 2019 on the island of Cyprus offers a great early season race. TRI247’s Andy Tomlinson has a look at the race to find out why it is fast becoming a popular destination for UK triathletes.
Language: Greek and Turkish and 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, plenty of UK flights and it is a 2 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 hot (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 are bars and nightclubs but the cliental is 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 of 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.
Like the UK, Cyprus drive 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 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. So keep your eye out for who you might see, Ivan Tutukin (Ayia Napa Triathlon winner 2018), 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. Many 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
Organised by Nireas Triathlon by 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 23 years ago now and drawing on all those years of event experience, The Ayia Napa triathlon takes place on Sunday, 17 March 2019. There are the three main race distances available to enter: Sprint, Olympic and Middle distance. Their aim was to organise high quality events to grow triathlon locally and also to showcase Cyprus as a first-choice destination for overseas athletes.
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 Accomodation 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, The Nissi Beach Resort which makes an ideal base for athletes, families and supporters 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, which is the most prestigious triathlon competition in Cyprus. Make sure you book your room in time to get the most out of the race and your time on Cyprus. The resort has several special offer rates from the 13th to the 18th of March 2019 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.
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 evening charity run on Saturday and activities arranged for the kids.
The Middle Distance race will probably be the key focus for UK competitors so we had a look at the middle distance swim, bike and run sections:
Middle Distance Swim
If you’ve done an Olympic distance triathlon and you are looking for a good finish in Half Distance, Ayia Napa is the perfect race for you whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned competitor.
The swim is a mass start, two laps of the loop starting and finishing at Nissi beach. The water is lovely and clear and with the beach being in cove is generally protected from the elements. Get the right conditions here and you should be able to PB.
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 forrest. After you have completed your laps it is then back along the 2 miles of road to transition which is all downhill. Total ascent of the middle distance bike course is 846 m and although challenging 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 here.
You can watch a video of the 2018 event here:
Registration is through their online system and the deadline is 23:59 Thursday 7th March 2019. Entry is not available on the day and spaces are limited so get in quick if this looks like a decent start to 2019. Please visit ayianapatriathlon.com for the latest race entry details.
The website for Nireas Triathlon is viewable here.