Tim Heming’s Abu Dhabi diary: Day one
From a 20km run in the midday heat to encountering Macca in the lobby, our man Heming reports from the Abu Dhabi Tri
The quiet before the storm? It’s Wednesday before the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon and I’m out for a jog along the Corniche.
Although here to cover the likes of Caroline Steffen (pictured) in this money-spinning tri season curtain raiser and thankfully not competing (200km, on a bike, in a desert, in that heat?!), staying in the official race hotel is empowerment enough to slip on the daps and head out the door.
But there’s really no one about. Where are the hundreds of age-groupers smashing it for some race-ruining one-upmanship along the Emirate’s coast?
Glancing down at my watch reveals why. Up a little later than planned (blame the bountiful breakfast dragging on a little), it’s now midday, the sun’s beating down and I’m the only one daft enough to risk frying in it. For now.
The contents of my solitary water bottle are also evaporating faster than I’m drinking it and the sunglasses I’ve pinched from my girlfriend are sliding off the front of my reddening beak.
The first mile from the hotel is a challenging affair, forcing me to cross a couple of building sites with the local construction firms playing so fast and loose with health and safety you could lose an entire Cervelo P5 in one of the pot-holes.
But then this is Abu Dhabi and all that towering architecture has to start somewhere – the three directly to my right look like giant, stuffed, simmering, sardines – and if I was just driving, like any normal citizen, there really wouldn’t be a problem.
Once onto the paved luxury of the Corniche, I run past the transition area that come Saturday morning will be a thriving squall of Lycra-clad triathlete trying to tell their exits from their entries.
For now it’s deserted, save half the local council hosing down the waterfront while the other half take a nap on the benches liberally dotting the seafront (yes, I spotted you.)
I hit the turnaround point and the last few remaining gulps of warm water make me realise I’ve bitten off more than I can chew with this leg-stretcher. The way back feels markedly more difficult and I’m glad of the sight of the hotels that sit next to our own splendid 21-storey Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan and make it look like my nan’s old bungalow.
On making it back a dishevelled mess, the hotel lobby seems more lively, but it’s just Chris ‘Macca’ McCormack, arguably the world’s most outspoken triathlete – and no more so than when there's 21 floors worth of empty atrium directly overhead to echo back those dulcet Aussie tones.
Before collapsing, I check my watch. I’ve clocked 20km, that’s the length of the long run race day – after they’ve swam 3km and ridden 200km more through the desert.
Triathletes, I doff my sweaty run cap to you, are you sure you’re ready for this?