WHEN I RACED THE ISRAMAN in January, the water temperature of the Red Sea was around 23 C. Even better, the sunrise on the mountains around Eilat while swimming (yep, I was so relaxed that I actually enjoyed that) was stunning. But what came next was a totally different scenario that you should be prepared for if you decide to tackle the Israman. The bike leg has a total vertical gain of 2,000 m for the half distance. That’s still not the hardest part of the day in the saddle – although it takes its toll. The real struggle is cycling for the last 60 km after the first climb on a mountain plateau at the border with Egypt, where soldiers and tanks are scattered along the road and make the experience a little more “adventurous.” But on the plateau the temperature can be pretty low (even two to three degrees) and the front and cross winds very strong. Trying to hold a straight line and staying in the saddle becomes a task. Then comes the run. The first 12 km are all downhill, mixed with one kilometre of trail run and the very last eight kilometres on the flat again. If running downhill sounds easy, think twice, because it will get your legs and muscles full of lactate and mean getting to the finish line is a true accomplishment. For those who feel a half-distance race with that much of a challenge isn’t enough, the Israman also offers a fulldistance race, too.
Nick Busca is a freelance journalist and avid cyclist and triathlete based in Great Britain.