SET IN A spectacular training centre that is literally in the heart of Europe (Samorin, Slovakia, sits about 10 km from the geographic centre of the continent), Challenge Samorin served as the inaugural “Championship” event for the Challenge series and will once again host the race in 2019.
The race takes place at the X-bionic Sphere, a training junkie’s dream vacation spot. The X-bionic Sphere began as an equestrian venue (it hosted the Olympic trials in 2015) that includes four different show rings, a horse race track, two indoor stadiums and enough stables to host 700 horses.
After the Equestosphere was finished a few years ago, the next facility added to the mix was the “Aqua Sphere” which includes beautiful, competition-ready indoor (25 m) and outdoor (50 m) pools and a spectacular four-star hotel that features a variety of different restaurants. The hotel also includes a fully equipped gym, weight room and luxurious spa facilities. Recently finished track and soccer stadiums, cycling facilities and gyms bring the number of Olympic sports offered at the X-bionic Sphere to 27.
The wetsuit-legal 1.9 km swim (water temperatures are typically between 16 and 18 C) is in the wide Danube River. Athletes run from the river to the transition set up in one of the show rings at the X-bionic Sphere before heading off on the flat, fast 90 km bike. With a 20 m draft zone, athletes can be assured that they’ll be doing their own race. The day finishes up with a flat 21 km run course over road and compact sand surfaces, making it both fast and easy on the body.
If you stay at the X-bionic Sphere for the race you won’t have to go anywhere once you get to the race site. The modern and spacious rooms are extremely comfortable. There’s a choice of four different restaurants and two different bars, which cover all your nutrition needs. (Since the facility serves as a base for training camps and sports teams on a regular basis, they are more than prepared for any athlete’s nutrition needs.) There are other hotel options available in both Samorin and Bratislava, but if you can you want to stay right on site.
There are two options for flying to Samorin. Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, is 20 minutes from the X-bionic Sphere, while the international airport in Vienna, Austria is just 85 km away.