The Hamburg Triathlon
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