Dubai: Some of the best triathletes in the world will descend on Dubai for the Challenge Dubai Triathlon to be held on February 27.

Organised under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman, Dubai Sports Council (DSC), the race has an allocated sum of $300,000 (Dh1.1 million) prize money for the top 10 finishers in the men’s and women’s categories.

The top two finishers in each category will receive $65,000 while the runners-up will receive $35,000 and $20,000 for each of the third place finishers, making it one of the richest races in the region. In addition, there will be separate competitions and prizes for emirati triathletes and for various age categories as well.

Spanish sensation Javier Gomez is the latest addition to an already outstanding field that has been confirmed for the Dubai race. The Spaniard re-wrote history last year after winning his fourth ITU World Championship title in Edmonton, and just two weeks later, claimed the World Championship in Mount Tremblant.

Gomez’s challengers in Dubai include German powerhouses Jan Frodeno and Michael Raelert, a strong contingent from Australia that includes Luke McKenzie, Tim Reed, Brad Kahlefeldt and Pete Jacobs along with Kiwi athlete Terenzo Bozzone.

The women’s race too has attracted quite a strong field including the Swiss pair of Daniela Rfy and Caroline Steffen along with former world champion Melissa Hauschildt, Yvonne van Vlerken, Jodie Swallow and the Danish trio of Helle Frederikson, Camilla Pederson and Michelle Vesterby. Another former world champion Leanda Cave of Great Britain, Annabel Luxford of Australia and Meredith Kessler of the USA.

Ahmad Al Kamali, Chairman, Organizing Committee, highlighted the importance of this inaugural event that is part of the ‘Gulf Swing’ with stops in Oman and Bahrain coming up next. “The success of Challenge Dubai will give a big boost to this mega event, the first of its kind in the region. Having such a powerful line-up of the world’s superstars in Dubai will definitely enrich the event. And with the support of Shaikh Hamdan there is an added element that makes this event extra special,” Al Kamali said.
“For us it is very important also to have emirati athletes coming and participating as this will help the growth of this sport in the UAE,” he added.

Race Director Ahmad Al Haj was confident that the Dubai race would spark the UAE youth into action. “We are setting up a special athletes village at the venue and we will have a festival of sorts at the venue over three days,” he said.