Melissa Hauschildt
Melissa Hauschildt

Organized by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, this year's Abu Dhabi International Triathlon is set to take place this Saturday on March 2, 2013.

The popular sport event was first launched in 2010 in the UAE's capital. After its inaugural event, the number of participants doubled to 1,500 triathletes from 51 nations, many of which hold World Championships, Ironman titles and national titles. Among the past participants were World Champions Chris ‘Macca’ McCormack, Craig ‘Crowie’ Alexander, Julie Dibens, Rasmus Henning and Faris Al Sultan.

Last year, the triathlon garnered more than 1,850 participants, officially making its mark as one of the most prominent sporting events in the region. This year, the event is estimated to host more than 2,200 athletes from all over the world.

The 2013 Abu Dhabi International Triathlon, a mix of swimming, cycling and running, will kick off with a sunrise swim off of Abu Dhabi’s Blue Flagged public beach, then cycle through closed roads in Abu Dhabi all the way to Yas Island and around the Yas Marina Circuit before heading back to the city.

Caroline Steffen
Caroline Steffen

The triathlon offers athletes the choice of partaking in three course distances: the 223km long course (3km swim, 200km cycle and 20km run), the half-length short course (1.5km swim, 100km cycle and 10km run) and the sprint course (750m swim, 50km bike and 5km run).

Designed to showcase the various beautiful monuments and places in Abu Dhabi, in addition to encouraging sporting events in the country, the triathlon winds its way all across the city, making the city a backdrop for the highly publicized event. It is also one of the city's aims to promote Abu Dhabi as "a leading alternative winter training base for athletes of all calibers."

Female participation in the event has been steadily increasing throughout the past few years. In 2012, female participation was 413 athletes, a 15% rise from the previous year. Even more notable is the fact that more than 50% of these women came from the GCC, an indication of the growing popularity of the sport regionally.

“Sport is about breaking down boundaries and to see so many female athletes take to the starting blocks is highly positive for triathlon’s future in the region,” said Faisal Al Sheikh, Events Manager of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority. “With an ever increasing number of facilities and clubs for budding triathletes to join across the emirate, it has never been easier to Tri.”

Ready To Roll - Duo set to become youngest Abu Dhabi stars
Ready To Roll – Duo set to become youngest Abu Dhabi stars

The triathlon's youngest competitors are two Abu Dhabi-based young men: 14 year old Sam O’Shea and 16 year old Paul Mueller. Both will take part in 111.5kms pure power ‘Short’ course, which includes a 1.5km swim, 100km cycle and 10km run, and will go up against top athletes like TEAM GB’s gold medal winning Olympic triathlete and European Triathlon Union champion, Alistair Brownlee.

Younger athletes are also encouraged to participate in the event by taking part in the ‘KidsTri,’ a mini triathlon designed for the younger generation in order to raise awareness about health and fitness.

“Sport has always been a powerful tool in overcoming adversity and pushing the limits of mind, body and soul. Over the last three years, we have been continuously inspired by amazing stories of bravery, determination and kindness from athletes who have taken part in Abu Dhabi," said Al Sheikh, adding, "We want to officially recognize the sport’s true heroes this year, and hopefully motivate others to embrace positive change.”

For more information on Abu Dhabi International Triathlon visit www.abudhabitriathlon.com

Angela Naeth
Angela Naeth
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