The Ham­burg Triathlon

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - DEPARTMENT -

ONEOF THE old­est events on the ITU cir­cuit, the Ham­burg Triathlon, hosted its first world cup event in 2002 and has been go­ing strong ever since. Ham­burg has been part of the World Triathlon Series (WTS) since 2009, when the series be­gan, and has hosted the Triathlon Mixed Re­lay World Cham­pi­onship since 2013.

The pros love the event for the rich his­tory, huge crowds and in­cred­i­ble at­mos­phere, but age-group ath­letes have come to em­brace the race, too. With more than 10,000 par­tic­i­pants in the sprint and stan­dard dis­tances, the race is the largest triathlon in the world.

Set in the heart of Ham­burg, Ger­many’s sec­ond­largest city, the race be­gins with a swim in Al­ster Lake. Ath­letes swim un­der a bridge to the get to the unique swim fin­ish be­hind the Rathaus­markt, the city’s main square, which is also where ath­letes will fin­ish the en­tire race, with Ham­burg’s stat­uesque city hall (Rathaus) in the back­ground.

The pros, who com­pete over the sprint dis­tance, en­joy a short run from the swim fin­ish to the tran­si­tion area on the blue car­pet at the fin­ish line where they get started on the six-loop spec­ta­tor-friendly 21-km bike ride. The course is lined from start to fin­ish with thou­sands of fans, who get to watch the ath­letes fly through the bike course and then fol­low a sim­i­lar route for the two-lap, 5-km run.

The age-group ath­letes have a bit of a run to the world’s long­est tran­si­tion area – the racks for the thou­sands of bikes on hand take up a few city blocks. Once in tran­si­tion, the age-groupers em­bark on a flat and fast course, with sprint-dis­tance com­peti­tors do­ing two-laps, while the stan­dard-dis­tance ath­letes com­plete a three-loop

course that takes them near an­other of Ham­burg’s fa­mous “Rathaus” build­ings in Al­tona. The day fin­ishes up for the age groupers with a scenic run along bike paths and two 500-m gravel stretches along the lake be­fore run­ning into the spec­tac­u­lar Rathaus­markt fin­ish line area.

Ham­burg hosted the ITU World Cham­pi­onships in 2007, and the race re­mains a bucket-list event for those look­ing for an amaz­ing triathlon ex­pe­ri­ence. The op­por­tu­nity to com­pete in a race with such huge fan sup­port is one thing, but hav­ing the chance to watch the world’s best com­pete in both the sprint race and then at the Triathlon Mixed Re­lay World Cham­pi­onship is worth the ef­fort. This year, France dom­i­nated the day, but the crowd was thrilled to watch a close sprint be­tween Aus­tralia and the United States for the fi­nal spots on the podium. (Ja­cob Birtwhis­tle put to­gether a bril­liant run to give Aus­tralia the sil­ver.)

If you’re look­ing for a chance to feel like a pro with a huge crowd on hand to cheer you across the line, as well as a chance to see one of Ger­many’s largest cities, a race­ca­tion to Ham­burg might be in or­der.—KM

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