20 April 2014
Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum congratulates Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa after he won the overall men’s title in the Dubai Desert Triathlon. — AFP
The event was a huge success, with the hundreds of participants and hundreds more support crews and spectators thoroughly enjoying the experience.
Nearly 400 athletes were part of history in the making on Saturday morning as they competed in the first ever Dubai Desert Triathlon at Dubai International Endurance City. The world first event brought together the triathlon disciplines of cycling and running with the traditional Emirati heritage sport of endurance horse riding with the overall men’s triathlon being won by Shaikh Nasser bin Hamed Al Khalifa of Bahrain ahead of teammate Mikel Calahorra, with Diego Bellon Santos in third.
The event, a partnership between Dubai Sports Council and Meydan and held under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Sports Council, was a huge success, with the hundreds of participants and hundreds more support crews and spectators thoroughly enjoying the experience.
Participants could enter as an individual triathlete completing all three disciplines, or as a team of 2 or 3 to complete the 5km desert trail run, the 25 km cycle and the 40km endurance ride, and prizes were awarded to winners in the individual, teams, cycling and running sections.
Shaikh Nasser was full of praise for the event, saying, “Today was perfect, the organization was very nice and I am very happy to have been part of this first ever desert triathlon. I am very happy with my times, I did what I expected to do, it’s been a beautiful day. I hope this event gets bigger every year.”
His teammate Mikel Calahorra was equally impressed. “Today was amazing, I only started horse riding a few months ago, When we saw this event was going to be on, Shaikh Nasser said to me ‘I am learning your sport (of triathlon), now it’s time for you to learn mine’ (horse riding) so I started riding. It’s a great mix of cultures here today and it’s been a great day.”
Third place getter Santos was thrilled to be competing in such great company. “It’s a pleasure to share the track with these guys, I have to fit my training around work, so to compete with great athletes like these two is great.”
The overall women’s triathlon was won by Maha Khalid. She was delighted with her result saying, “I enjoyed today a lot, I am a professional endurance horse rider so had to train hard on the cycling and running, but today was very good. It’s nice to bring all these cultures together, I’ll definitely be back next year.”
Second place in the women’s overall went to Ines Pintenat, with Sheelagh Pirzada in third. First place in the junior triathlon went to Atiq Hassan Ali.
Prizes were also awarded to senior and junior teams, with Al Bararri -4 taking out the junior competition and Etihad Stables 1 taking out the senior.
In the run leg the fastest female was Moroccan Champion Latifa Essarokh, ahead of Hamda Saif Alshamsi, while in the junior male section Sancho Barcia took the honours. In the senior male section Albert Robb recorded a blistering time of 14.10 for the sandy 5km desert trail. The women’s bike leg was won by Lisa Hancox, the junior male by Talal Al Balooshi and the senior male by Soufiane Haddi, just .03 of a second ahead of Ahmed Yousef Al Mansouri. But it wasn’t just the winners who enjoyed the day, with participants excited to be part of such an innovative event. One competitor, Geoff Mitchell, said: “It was brilliant to be part of this, it’s the first truly integrated multicultural event I’ve seen. It’s great to combine the Emirati culture with a triathlon and it’s so good to see so many Emiratis competing in all three disciplines. It’s a great leveler and we all love being out there competing together. Hopefully this event will carry on for many more years to come.”
Dr Ahmed Saad Al Sharif, secretary general of the Dubai Sports Council, was delighted with the event. “We are so pleased with how successful today has been, to see such a diverse range of people competing together and enjoying participating is wonderful. We are proud to have made history today and we look forward to seeing this event become one of the hallmark events on Dubai’s sporting calendar.”
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