Drenched in sweat but soon to be basking in glory, in Tyler Butterfield and Melissa Hauschildt the 2014 Abu Dhabi International Triathlon got a pair of long-distance champions this superb event deserved.
Both called on super-human levels of endurance as they toiled for upwards of seven hours under the relentless sun.
In a field boasting Ironman world champions, they drained every ounce of effort to finish on the top step of the podium on a day which showcased Abu Dhabi at its best.
The UAE is a place where aspiration meets boundless ambition. Where rapidly-developing, top-class sporting occasions stand as equals or better than those elsewhere.
What other triathlon can boast a course as breathtaking as one that takes in the shimmering Corniche waters, multiple laps of the outstanding Yas Marina Formula 1 circuit and finishes with a run that is backdropped by the iconic towers of the East Plaza skyline built up by the success of the booming Abu Dhabi economy?
The ADIT continues to grow at a tremendous rate, attracting a first ever sold-out field of 2,400 professional triathletes and amateur enthusiasts from 68 different countries for its fifth edition.
None arrived with a higher profile than Great Britain’s Brownlee brothers. The pair possess gold and bronze from London 2012, plus a quantity of hard-earned International Triathlon Union World Championships victories that would threaten to overflow any trophy cabinet.
Alistair triumphed last year, and was so enthusiastic about the meeting that his younger sibling, Jonathan, came along this time.
The pair live the kind of structured lives elite athletes need to thrive. Every aspect of their training is chalked out to the finest detail. They are a mini-industry, boasting a series of high-end global sponsors since their achievements at the London Olympics.
That their coaching team would entrust the pivotal first race of the season to Abu Dhabi speaks volumes. In their dual finish, the event also gained an iconic image exhibiting the latest chapter in this remarkable sibling rivalry.
The names may not be as recognisable, but the ADIT would be nowhere without the ever-growing number of amateurs who decide to get up at dawn and plunge headfirst into a stamina-sapping race.
A well-oiled organising team ensured the operation ran smoothly. Competitors were serviced by a diligent medical team, guided round a well-marked course and heralded for their achievement.
This same attention to detail was applied to Friday’s Junior Triathlon, ensuring the value of healthy living was shown to the next generation.
A fan village pumping out thumping music and expert commentary also kept the entertainment levels high off the course.
Speaking before yesterday’s event, Alistair Brownlee offered the idea of a future night race.
Attendance levels, while growing, are far from being fully tapped. An event under lights could pique local interest in a world-class event at their doorstep. Food for thought for the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Cultural Authority who continue to exhibit a knack for staging genre-leading occasions.
Know more about Sport360 Application