Hundreds of amateur athletes are today celebrating after taking on the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon’s new-look ‘Sprint’ challenge, which made its debut at the event to help first timers enter the sport, one of the world’s fastest growing.
With 423 athletes taking part in the sprint - which comprised a 750m swim, a 50km cycle and a 5km run throughout Abu Dhabi city – it exceeded expectations. And fulfilling its role as a feeder-distance to the more competitive Short and Long distances, it received glowing reviews from the many amateurs taking part.
“That was a fantastic course – truly amazing,” said Pierre Moulierac, 38, one of the first to cross the line. “There is brilliant atmosphere at the finish line with everyone hugging each other after taking on the Abu Dhabi sprint.
“There was music playing and people clapping and cheering as I made my way home and it was such a wonderful experience. I will be back,” added the fireman from Nice, in the South of France, who flew in especially for the race.
Eissa Al Raisi, a father-of-five from Abu Dhabi, said the Sprint distance made it much easier for local athletes to take up the sport.
“This sport has the ability to really get anyone fit and active,” said the 42-year-old.
“I have been looking forward to it for months and to cross that line means everything to me. The bike ride was especially tough with the wind coming across us but that is what makes doing this so special. It is a tough event and to see so many local people taking part is fantastic.”
Lisa Spencer, 44, took her two young children to watch the athletes cross the line.
“Abu Dhabi needs occasions like this when everyone comes together at an event that promotes fitness, health and a sense of community.”
At 6am more than 400 amateurs swam in the cool waters of the lagoon at Emirates Palace hotel, cycled across Saadiyat Island and ran laps through the streets of Abu Dhabi before finishing on the
Corniche Beach. Hundreds of spectators gathered at the finish line to cheer on the sprint distance athletes.
Hoping to get more people interested in the sport and out supporting the 1,500 athletes from 50 countries taking part in the event, organiser Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) also staged a comprehensive spectator entertainment zone at the event’s Corniche finish line.
Race Village highlights included circus acts, fire-breathers, jugglers, face painting and stilt-walkers. A chance to win two nights stay at the event’s official hotel, the Palace Rayhaan by Rotana Abu Dhabi, as well as a Ford weekend driving experience were also up for grabs.
The Race Village Team Abu Dhabi stand also featured some of the emirate’s top racing vehicles, such as the Junior World Rally Car, the Porsche GT3 race car and a UIM F1 Powerboat, allowing fans to get up-close to high-octane machines. There was also a Hall of Fame tent, where visitors could relive Abu Dhabi’s greatest sporting moments over the last six years, in an interactive walk-though experience.