According to the event organisers, within just a month of its launch, more than 260 athletes from 25 countries have signed up for the inaugural US$250,000 Abu Dhabi International Triathlon (ADIT) to be held in March 2010.
Aimed at attracting up to 1,000 triathletes, including the world’s top 50, ADIT has already secured competitors from Australasia, Europe, the Middle East, Americas, North Africa, the Far East, Russia and Africa – a strong indication of ADIT’s global appeal.
“We are highly encouraged by the tremendous interest from both amateur and professional athletes. The event, on March 13th, will be a landmark on the international triathlon calendar. It will unite triathletes from around the world in one of the most exciting destinations imaginable,” said Faisal Al Sheikh, Head – Major Events Division, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA).
Primed and positioned to be an ‘instant classic’, ADIT will boast two unique race formats, a testing 223K ‘pure power’ course and a second 111.5K route, which can be run as a team relay event. Both distances are open to elites and amateurs, a key facet in the event’s broad appeal.
A first-of-its-kind format, with a finishing run leg shorter than typical Ironman events, will allow athletes to recover faster and compete more often during the race season – a factor which is seen to be crucial to international triathlon community success.
An amended format, placing more emphasis on the bike leg, has also recently been promoted by Star Production, organiser of the TriStar111, TriStar222 and TriStar200 race formats.
To enhance the accessibility of the Abu Dhabi event, ADTA has introduced a relay element for the 111.5K route, where a team of three can each take on a single discipline choosing the 1.5K swim, 100K bike or 10K run. The event organisers feel that this option will be perfect for aspiring athletes and corporate involvement.
“The Abu Dhabi International Triathlon was designed to be accessible to all levels and to engage the community fully, whether seasoned pros or those determined to get really fit. The relay option helps achieve that goal. It is a great team building initiative, and is suitable for companies and organisations looking to promote health and fitness or a group of friends wanting to try something new,” added Al Sheikh.
Both ADIT routes will take in a host of Abu Dhabi city landmarks with the event’s opening swim leg taking place in the lagoon of the hallmark Emirates Palace, one of the world’s most luxurious hotels, and the cycling section passing some of the destination’s most iconic sights including the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the world’s largest, and along Abu Dhabi’s signature Corniche – all under the safety of completely closed roads.
The route will then go east of the city over Saadiyat Island, the 27 square kilometre natural island which is 500 metres offshore of Abu Dhabi city, and on to the destination’s emerging entertainment hub of Yas Island – home to the highly successful 2009 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – where triathletes will compete on the same circuit as many of the world’s top F1 race drivers.
The athletes will then run back to the Corniche through the Heritage Village to the west of the city. Some 1,000 places are available for the inaugural ADIT, charged at US$180 and US$123 for the long and short distances respectively.