ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi 2018
2nd – 3rd March 2018: Entries are still available
With recent major international triathlon events in Bahrain and Dubai, the close association of triathlon to the Middle East continues in early March, with the 2018 edition of the ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi (https://abudhabi.triathlon.org).
With a combination of the world’s Elite, thousands of Age-Group athletes and an iconic venue in the United Arab Emirates, the event is a significant one at the beginning of the triathlon year. The Elite start lists have been published – and it is fair to say that the field’s will be stacked, with both Brownlee brothers confirmed too.
The race is not just for Elite however, as thousand’s of amateur athletes are expected in the United Arab Emirates too – and with good reason.
Triathlon and Abu Dhabi – a brief history
Abu Dhabi has been the host of major triathlon events and had a close association with the sport for the best part of a decade now. Way back in 2009 (HERE), Team Abu Dhabi was launched, headlined by former IRONMAN World Champion, Faris Al-Sultan, the German who was also a resident of Al Ain in Abu Dhabi. After a great debut at her first appearance in Kona in 2009, Great Britain’s Rachel Joyce subsequently raced with the team for a number of years.
The professional team was the first of a two-part triathlon strategy for the Abu Dhabi Tourist Authority, and in late 2009 I was invited to the launch of the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon, the long distance 3km / 200km / 20km format which attracted many (most!) of the world’s best long distance athletes for five years between 2010 and 2014. I was able to visit a number of those races, with my wife also taking part in the ‘Sprint’ event a couple of times too.
Running alongside the long distance event, a shorter 1.5km / 100km / 10km format attracted Alistair Brownlee in 2013 and in 2014 he was joined by his brother, Jonathan. Alistair won in 2013, and the pair crossed the line together 12 months later.
From 2015, the event changed direction and became the opening race of the ITU World Triathlon Series, a position it has held ever since. This years race will be the fourth consecutive season in that role – and looks set to be the biggest and best ever.
The Venue – Yas Marina
The original Abu Dhabi International Triathlon – and the first two years of the WTS event – were based on The Corniche, close to the Central Business District of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. One of the highlights for athletes in years past was getting to race on the Formula 1™ circuit at Yas Marina (www.yasmarinacircuit.com). Yas Marina is no longer just a small element of the race – for the second year, the entire event will be based at Yas Island.
As well as being part of Fomula 1™ history, the Yas Marina circuit is also something of an architectural masterpiece and truly provides a stunning setting for the event. As the Elite found in 2017, the circuit is certainly not flat however and provides a challenging venue too.
All of the events in Abu Dhabi have continued to attract large numbers of Age-Group athletes, both from within the region and international athletes. Britain is always well represented and – as with my notes around Bahrain – travel to and from the region is pretty straightforward and perhaps surprisingly cost-effective. The official event travel packages can be found HERE.
While it may be short notice – Age-Group racing takes place on Saturday 3rd March – entries are still open HERE. The three distances available are:
- Sprint: 750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run – COURSE VIDEO
- Olympic: 1,500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run – COURSE VIDEO
- Middle: 1,900m swim, 90km bike, 21.1km run – COURSE VIDEO
If you like speed… don’t miss the roller coaster!
If you are going to travel to Abu Dhabi, you are likely going to want to ensure your trip contains more than simply your race. The Yas Marina venue allows you to do that, with several major attractions co-located. One of those is Ferrari World (https://ferrariworldabudhabi.com), which is probably best described as a theme park built as a tribute to the great Italian car brand.
On one of my trips to Abu Dhabi I got to visit Ferrari World myself, the most memorable aspect of which was Formula Rossa, That’s the name of the world’s fastest roller coaster, which has the same G-force that you would experience in an F1 car and braking at maximum speed. From zero to 240 km/h in less than five seconds… that is FAST! (It was also fun too; we got off and then shortly returned for another go minutes later).
Entry to Ferrari World is one of the special offers that race organisers are offering participating athletes, along with providing discount vouchers for some of the 160 restaurants available on Yas Island – CLICK HERE FOR MORE.