Saturday, March 14, 2015

ITU World Triathlon Series. Abu Dhabi 7 March 2015.

Triathlon, I suppose is in a "complicated" relationship. There's the ITU (world governing body), Ironman WTC (which started before ITU was established in 1989), the Challenge Family and so on. My perception was that ITU concentrated on the Olympics and groomed national athletes for it.
The only ITU World Championship I took part in (Perth 2009), I had to go through Malaysia's governing body. My personal race reports here.
Then the only one time in my life I was a real national athlete (Triathlon's Asian Championships in Japan, 1992), participation was through the Ministry of Sports (the trip was very kindly paid for by the Sabah Tourism Promotion Corporation, so Datuk Irene and Datuk Balwant I am forever grateful to you two). So my perception was that ITU didn't really cater for mass participation. But that is changing actually, ITU started doing some mass participation races (especially the Olympic distance) in the run up to the London Olympics 2012 and now for Rio 2016.
WTS - Abu Dhabi
The ITU takes the World Triathlon Series very seriously. At stake is their reputation, Olympic qualifying places, sponsorship responsibilities, livelihood of professional triathletes, live TV and so on. They do a proper  job and we the mass participant, benefit.
Abu Dhabi is the first WTS race for 2015. Three distances are available for the age groupers (Sprint / Olympic / Maxi) plus there's the Aquathlon and Kids Races too. The Elites do the Sprint Distance later in the day and proper Grandstands, T.V. etc is provided for spectators. Commentary is provided throughout the day by one of my favourite persons in Triathlon ever, Greg Welch (World Ironman Champion in 1994 and ITU World Short Course Champion). Coupled with the perfect weather and beautiful location, it was actually a lovely day for us. I understand ITU's contract with Abu Dhabi is for 5 years, so Gulf triathletes really have something good to look forward to.
I have loved doing Triathlons since Day One in 1989. The races have such a buzz feeling. Abu Dhabi  with its Sprint and Maxi distances, caters for everyone. With 2,500 participants, there was such an international crowd. I had no idea what languages people were speaking in, wonderful.
I am grateful that I purchased from Edwin Ng an ITU compliant race suit. People were curious to know what "MAS" stood for and of course spectators and fellow participants were always calling out my name "Sofian". So thank you Edwin Ng.
To finish your day, you could watch the Elites race and show you how its done.
That's it, that's the end of my Race Report. I recommend the race.
Gwen Jorgensen. Very strong favourite for Rio 2016

Emma Moffat. ITU World Champion in 2009 and 2010

Go sightseeing. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

The slowest cyclist from Doha. Ha ha

I couldn't have done it without my wife

Relax after your race and watch the Elites

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