Three of the world’s leading female elite athletes have thrown their hats into the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon 2013 ring, as they look to flex their competitive muscles against what is expected to be the strongest women’s field to date.
Having peppered the podium for the last few years, Switzerland’s Caroline Steffen, Canada’s Angela Naeth and Australia’s Melissa Hauschildt (nee Rollison), are all familiar with Abu Dhabi’s ‘pure power’ 223kms course, yet have fallen short of taking home one of the sport’s richest prize purses.
Steffen, one of the event’s longest running competitors who has twice finished in the top three, is back for the fourth time and believes her knowledge of the unique Abu Dhabi course – which includes a lung-bursting 3kms swim, 200kms bike ride and 20kms run – will stand her in good stead.
“I now want to win it. The biggest factors in the race are heat, wind and the gruelling distance on the bike but luckily I like all these influences so I hope this will put me at the top,” said the two-time ITU Long Distance World Champion.
The ex-national Swiss swimmer comes into the new season having dominated the 2012 circuit, taking the Asia-Pacific and European Ironman Championship titles and setting a world record bike split (4:35:29) at Ironman Melbourne, proving her versatility to handle any distance with ease.
Hot on her heels will be the Canadian ‘pocket rocket’ Naeth, who will be racing to improve on her 2012 second place finish. Her excellent early season result in Abu Dhabi set her up for an outstanding season – winning Rev3 Portland, 70.3 Ironman Syracuse, 70.3 Ironman St. Croix (course record), Leadman 125 Las Vegas and 70.3 Ironman Panama.
A relative newcomer to long distance events, Hauschildt became an instant legend when she burst onto the pro circuit and claimed every title she raced for – including the 70.3 World Championships. With a handful of wins in 2012 and a course record at the 70.3 Australian Pro Championships at her back, the 29-year-old Brisbane girl is keen to prove she is one of the world’s best.
“I think my biggest challenge last time was conserving energy on the bike. I came out a few minutes behind in the swim and rode hard to make up that lost time. When we caught the leaders I had already put out a lot of energy and wasn't prepared for the surges. I also sat too far back as I was nervous about coming into the draft zone,” she said.
The impressive female line-up continues with yet another athlete who is set firmly in the pro history books – New Zealand’s Jo Lawn, who owns the title of seven-time Ironman New Zealand winner. She raced Abu Dhabi in 2011 and finished in the top ten – a result she wants to better.
The 2013 Abu Dhabi International Triathlon will start with a sunrise swim in the Arabian Gulf’s shimmering turquoise waters off Abu Dhabi’s Blue Flagged public beach, before weaving through closed roads along the Corniche Beach, up to the spectacular Yas Island and around the Yas Marina Circuit – home to the annual Formula 1™ Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – before returning to the heart of the UAE capital.
The Abu Dhabi International Triathlon offers three course distances; the 223km ‘long course’ (3km swim, a 200km cycle and 20km run), the half-length ‘short’ course (1.5km swim, a 100km cycle and a 10 km run) and the sprint course (750m swim, a 50km bike and 5km run). Both the ‘short’ and the ‘sprint’ can be run as a team relay.
Organisers have frozen athlete registration fees for the fourth year in a row. Athletes interested in entering should visit www.abudhabitriathlon.com.