Australian professional triathlete Leon Griffin reports on his experiences from the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon.
Day 3 from Abu Dhabi brings more early morning fog, quickly replaced by mid morning blaring sunshine once the haze lifts a little.
Today I was planning a little sleep in, but the second night’s sleep is always a restless one with the body clock confusion. So whilst wide awake during the wee hours of the morning decided to change my plans and jump on the courtesy bus heading down to the Emirates Palace bright and early to check out the swim leg being held in the Arabian Gulf just in front of this monstrosity. I thought the Sheikh Zayed Mosque I took in on day one was big…well, the Emirates Palace put that in the shade!
Approaching it and driving around its perimeter, it appeared something like some Kingdom straight from a fairytale, I half expected to see some elephants and giraffes roaming the plush surrounds. A quick Google informed me it’s rated seven stars with rooms ranging from $500-$12,000 and cost a lazy US$3b to complete…bloody insane!! Hopefully it’s setting a precedent for triathlon events in the future, moving us up into a whole new stratosphere.
Alrighty, enough of the sidetracking, time to focus on the task at hand. The swim I mentioned above, taking in the beautiful turquoise waters of the Arabian Gulf, will be a two lapper. By the time I was finished my practice this morning I felt like I’d swallowed a container of table salt, and upon inquiring further some local’s informed me the salt content in the Gulf is higher than that of anywhere else…something I hope will help my buoyancy a little bit more for the race on Saturday due to no wetsuits being allowed.
By now I’m starting to feel like a chicken in a coup not having the freedom to get out and take in my usual pre-race preparation. The “remotely safe” four mile out-andback stretch of road behind the hotel is getting over crowded and frankly boring, so I’m guessing like minded pros and age groupers are itching to race and take in the fast closed freeways and YAS Marina Island Grand Prix circuit afforded to us for the race.
And lastly today, it’s interesting to see the media presence has stepped up a notch and kicked into full swing with press conferences, autograph signings and other television, newspaper and website interviews all happening around the place. Abu Dhabi is transferring itself into the world hub for triathlon this weekend with excitement and anticipation growing as to who’s going to be crowned the inaugural winner of the big cash prize in the Middle East. Tactics will come into play like no other triathlon before with the uber bikers playing coy but really nervous as hell as to what lead they can get, and the runners praying for a five minute or less deficit to start the run, confident they can hunt down the frontrunners…well at least that’s my view. As I’ve unfortunately been unable to get the bike miles in that I’d like in prep for this race, I put myself in the latter category and believe if I’m within striking distance I may be able to sneak in for a top-five result…that’s if I don’t blow to smithereens somewhere along the 200km warm up!