The Second edition of the Ironman 70.3 Middle East Championship Bahrain is set to get underway at 6.55am on Saturday under the patronage of HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister.
The race will feature more than 1,200 international, regional, local and expatriate runners, with a 1.9km swim from the Four Seasons and in and around Bahrain Bay, followed by 90km of cycling which will take the participants past iconic landmarks such as Al Fateh Grand Mosque, Gudaibiya Palace, Bahrain Museum, Bahrain World Trade Center, Bahrain Financial Harbour, Dilmun Burial Mounds, National Charter Monument and the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC), followed by a 21.1km run from BIC then on to Al Areen Wildlife Park and then head back to the finish line at BIC.
Last week over 300 participants got a first-hand experience of the track designed to host the cycling race, the second stage of the championship, spearheaded by HH Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, representative of His Majesty the King for Charity Works and Youth Affairs, Chairman of the Supreme Council for Youth and Sports and President of Bahrain Olympic Committee.
A full programme of events have been lined-up starting from Thursday with an Expo and participant registration from 10pm to 7pm at BIC, a press conference at 2pm at the Four Seasons Hotel followed at 3pm by a pro breifing, the Iron Girl race at 5pm and Iron Kids at 6pm, with both events at BIC and the opening ceremony at the same venue at 7pm and race briefing at 8pm.
Friday a swim practice takes place from 7.30am to 9.30am at Four Seasons Hotel and a bike check-In from 9am to-4pm and registration continues at BIC from 10am to 3pm. On race-day, transition opens at 5.30am and closes 6.45am at the Four Seasons Hotel with the race underway at 6.55am and the first athlete expected to finish at the BIC around 10.40am.
Aside from the race, other events at BIC include a flower ceremony at 12noon, the Expo continues from 10am to 4pm with an awarding ceremony at 8pm and an after race party from 10pm at the Sofitel Hotel in Zallaq.
Last year’s event featured 90km cycling and a 21.1km, while the 1.9km swim was cancelled due to high winds and strong currents. The men’s category was won by Belgian Bart Aernouts in three hours 11 minutes 15 seconds, with Switzerland’s Ruedi Wild (3:12.26) coming in second and South Africa’s James Cunnama (3:13.54) completing the podium.
History was made in the women’s category when Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf (3:28.20) picked up a whopping U$1 million after coming in first and winning the Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa Triple Crown after she had previously won the Dubai Challenge and the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Austria, earlier in the year. Second place went to fellow Swiss Caroline Steffan (3:37.45) and the final podium place to Sweden’s Asa Lundstrom (3:39.35). Bahrain had initiated its first International Triathlon event in 2014 with the Challenge Bahrain International Triathlon Championship.