Registration remains open for the Ashurst Tri Fest, a triathlon organised by Race Me Events on March 30, which takes place at Jebel Ali Waterfront, a stunning venue boasting water clear enough for dolphin and turtle-spotting.
The Tri Fest is a celebration of triathlon and is designed to encourage people from all ages and abilities to get involved or even try their first triathlon in an event heavily focused on inclusion and community spirit.
Categories start with children aged from 4-14 who have a choice of two distances to choose from and the parents have the opportunity to stay with their children if they wish to help them around the course.
Rio Watson, a teenager with a very rare chromosome disorder is taking part with TeamAngelWolf – and the event is encouraging children from all backgrounds and abilities to give the triathlon a go.
Paul Venn, one of the event owners, said: “Tri Fest is community-based event that appeals to experienced triathletes looking for a personal best or first timers just looking to finish. Crystal clear water, closed roads and a new, spectator friendly run course create a wonderful atmosphere and we expect upwards of 1,000 people to be racing.
“We are proud supporters of TeamAngelWolf as we share their message of inclusion and integrating children with special needs into society through sport. Our kids races give children of all ages and abilities to race with and be inspired by Rio who will be racing with his dad, Nick, and sister, Tia.”
Registration closes on March 24, click HERE to book your place.
The ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi is not just for the elites and fitness freaks. It’s for the young, old, thin, big-boned, and even a sports journalist who up until recently considered couch-surfing a proper swimming discipline.
On Saturday, said journalist rocked up at Yas Marina with a newly acquired tri-suit, goggles more suited to scuba diving, a lack of sleep and the hopes and dreams of his dear mum.
Read on to find out if he let his mother down.
It’s not a good start. I arrive late, dishevelled and disoriented. A good Samaritan by the name of Ben Cranwell, whose name I next see many, many places above mine on the results list, guides me through the transition process and suddenly I’m herded down towards the marina with a stomach that’s been infiltrated by butterflies.
Some people loosen their arms. Others jump up and down. I decide to lean on the rail in attempt to look unflustered and cool. With the sun beating down, the latter doesn’t last for long.
Four people are released into the water at a time and there’s a lot slipping and flopping before the ramp disappears and you’re away.
Two problems immediately crop up. My goggles steam up and objects, human or otherwise, become a blur. Secondly – it’s really, really cold. But the momentary panic subsides and I’m actually swimming, or doing something that closely resembles it.
The next 750 metres, save for what I’d like to imagine were a few friendly prods of support from other competitors, go smoothly enough although the steaming is an issue. I zig and zag without much vision before I land ashore with all the grace of a beached fish.
My body temporarily forgets it has legs as I hobble to where my bike is parked. Thankfully, feeling is restored in time for the pedals and after a quick swig of electrolytes I’m doing OK.
That is until I go the wrong way at the first turn (someone shouted right – that’s my story and I’m sticking with it). Direction, if not dignity, restored, I start zooming around Yas Marina circuit like a foot-powered Mercedes.
There’s soon another snag. My laces catch a nook in my pedal and stop just before my circulation is completely cut off from my foot. All the while others are whizzing past me and I realise just how frustrating pit stops in Formula One must be.
Back on the proverbial horse, I’m offered some friendly advice (‘you’re in the wrong gear … no, use the right not the left’) and not-so-friendly (‘what you’re doing is dangerous’ – I was just rounding a corner, honest) before the circuit fans out and I’m now pounding the surrounding roads.
Still thoroughly confused by how gears work, as well as nursing an increasingly painful backside, I reach a mutual, unspoken understanding racing alongside another competitor before he betrays me and flies off into the distance, too.
Finally, I’m back where I started.
What’s sunburnt, hairy and wobblier than jelly? My legs at this point. My calves feel like they’re clamped in a vice and there’s just no fuel left in this particular tank. I mentally flay myself for trying to cram 12 weeks of training into three throughout my half-stagger, half-run, which would not look out of place on the set of The Walking Dead.
Nothing will work. No cartons of water. Not even wet sponges. But as I reach the second refuelling station, and see the faster athletes coming back down the other way, I vow to myself that I won’t stop again. At least until the third refuelling station.
The heat’s really getting to me now and I’m not the only one, with many others having long used up their last thimbleful of energy. Finally I can see the bike station and this 5km/5000km run is coming to a blessed end.
An organiser tells me the finish is just ahead so I summon strength from somewhere and breeze past a few of the other backmarkers. Unfortunately this turned out to be a little white lie and there are a couple more corners to go. One more teeny-tiny walk for good luck and I cross the finish line with a dip for good measure.
It didn’t make much difference – finishing in about 1hr50mins, I’m not threatening anybody – but you know what? I enjoyed that. Roll on next year.
South African Henri Schoeman claimed victory in the elite men’s category sprint distance, while Dutch triathlete Rachel Klamer picked up the first women’s medal as the 2018 ITU World Triathlon Season got under way at the Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.
Schoeman produced a stellar performance and was first out of the water, taking the lead into the bike section following a smooth first transition.
Despite the unusual rain that caused problems on the bike course for many athletes, Schoeman managed to come out on top and enter the second transition 13 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor.
The South African become only the second man in WTS history to win the race after leading in all three disciplines from start to finish and picked up just his second World Triathlon Series gold medal, following his win at the Cozumel Grand Final in 2016. Schoeman finished first with a time of 57 minutes and three seconds, winning by six seconds.
“I am just so happy, there really are no words to explain,” said Schoeman. “I just tried to play it safe out there. I found myself in front on the bike and before I knew it I had a gap and the gap grew. To be honest, I was having fun out there, I was telling myself that if they catch me on the run, well whatever because I had fun on the bike and I was safe. Mario [Mola] is a fantastic runner, but my fitness is there and it is good to have a race like this.
“It told me I am in great form as the Commonwealth Games is my next race. I am so thrilled, the last time I was on the top step was in Cozumel in 2016 and I am so glad I did it in such a great way.”
Earning the silver medal was Spaniard Mario Mola, who won in Abu Dhabi in 2015 and 2016. Bronze went to Vincent Luis of France who repeated his third-place position from 2017.
Meanwhile, in the women’s field, Rachel became the 21st woman to win an ITU World Triathlon Series race after her season-opening victory in Abu Dhabi. After a conservative race strategy in the swim and bike sections, Klamer entered the final lap in front and battled with her fellow triathletes in a running race for the podium. Giving everything she had, Klamer clinched gold and the first WTS victory of her career.
“I am so happy, there was no way I was expecting this,” said Klamer. “I have to say I was quite scared on the bike because the last few months I have been training on only straight roads and didn’t do any corners. There were a lot of women crashing so I just decided to take it easy, ride hard, but just go easy through the corners. When we started running I tried to focus on my breathing because normally at the start of the season I often get side stitches. I stayed at the back of the back on the first lap, but on the last lap I thought I would just give it a try.”
Great Britain’s Jessica Learmonth came in second, adding to the silver medal she picked up in Stockholm last year. The medal gives the Briton good standing going into her last month of training before the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast in April.
Commenting on the opening day of the ITU World Triathlon Series Abu Dhabi 2018, His Excellency Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council said; “The ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi 2018 has been the most successful and inclusive triathlon event hosted in the Middle East. Our elite field boasted 17 of the top 20 male and female triathletes, from all corners of the globe, all of which competed spectacularly in what is now one of the biggest races on the ITU calendar. It was fantastic to see hundreds of supporters come out to cheer on their sporting heroes, and is testament to the success of the event. We look forward to making next year’s event bigger and better as we work towards our vision of 2021 – hosting the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final.”