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