EURO­PEAN KONA

TRIATHLON VI­TO­RIA-GASTEIZ

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - FEATURES -

Nes­tled be­tween moun­tain ranges in north­ern Spain lies Vi­to­ria-gasteiz, the cap­i­tal of the coun­try’s Basque re­gion and a bud­ding triathlon mecca. This mid-sized city is home to me­dieval ar­chi­tec­tural trea­sures, of­fers some of the coun­try’s best wine and cui­sine and, in re­cent years, has be­come a train­ing base for some of the world’s top triath­letes. It also hosts one of Europe’s most pop­u­lar triathlons, Triathlon Vi­to­ria-gasteiz, a half- and full-dis­tance race which cel­e­brated its 10th an­niver­sary in July.

We at­tended this year’s race and fell in love with the event and the cit. From top-notch or­ga­ni­za­tion to a stun­ning course and a fin­ish line un­like any other, it’s not hard to un­der­stand why triath­letes from all over the world flock to Vi­to­ria-gasteiz for this mid-sum­mer race.

The swim takes place in the clean and clear waters of lake Ul­libarri-gam­boa in one of the re­gion’s provin­cial parks. Ath­letes then hop on their bikes for a ride through beau­ti­ful coun­try­side, pass­ing through quiet farm­land, stun­ning moun­tain ranges and small his­toric towns.

Though July can get quite hot in Basque coun­try, it’s not un­com­mon for light rain around race day. Rid­ing along the course on an over­cast day, see­ing clouds hover over the moun­tain ranges is some­thing you won’t soon for­get.

The fi­nal leg of the race – and pos­si­bly the high­light – is a run through the city’s old town. The nor­mally quiet city cen­tre comes to life with crowds of spec­ta­tors who come out to en­cour­age ath­letes along the en­tire course. The blue fin­ish­ing chute bright­ens up the city square and draws loud cheers for ev­ery fin­isher. The party-like at­mos­phere goes on into the night as triath­letes and their fam­i­lies cel­e­brate at the bars and restau­rants around Vi­to­ria’s Plaza Es­pana.

Though the race at­tracts mostly Euro­peans, it has a Cana­dian con­nec­tion in three-time win­ner Brooke Brown. Brown has be­come a sta­ple at the race and, when asked why she

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