The day before the 8th running of the International Triathlon Vitoria-Gasteiz, the small Basque city situated 70km from Bilbao the preparations are almost complete to host the 2100 athletes. The professional triathletes racing in both the full and half distance events tomorrow have completed their various responsibilities for the race with briefings and photoshoots which just leaves the small matter of being at the front come the finish line tape.
The full distance race will be hotly contested, in the men’s, Pedro Gomes, sitting 38th in the Kona rankings has one eye on the next few weeks of KPR movement before the first cut is made but his definite short term future will be spent ensuring he finishes ahead of Alejandro Santemaria, another local athlete and defending champion from 2014 who hasn’t come to make up the numbers and would relish a 2nd title in front of what has been described as one of the most passionate crowds in Europe.
Heading up the women’s field, Brooke Brown is in hot form after recent wins at the IronMedoc full distance and the Triathlon Deauville half in the last 2 months. She will be competing against local athlete Arrate Mintegui for the title of Queen of Vitoria-Gasteiz come Sunday but they will also have to contend with Yvette Grice from the UK chasing a podium spot.
The half ironman is also hotly contested in both the women’s and men’s field with a strong elite field gathering for what should be a spectacular race due to the location and crowds.
For a long distance triathlon race not displaying a Challenge or Ironman logo, the local organising committee of the International Vitoria-Gasteiz race have achieved what many smaller races haven’t. To fill consistently across both the full and half distance, sell out and then still have ambitions to grow the athlete experience by holding onto the the reigns. 2100 athletes competing is testament to the work put in by the organisers and proof that providing the right race in the right location can bring its reward.
A race that attracts pro’s of this calibre and a full amateur field there must be something bringing them back or attracting them in the first place. After spending 2 days here already it’s not hard to see what it is. Location is all important but it’s about the athletes, attention to detail and providing an experience to race at. What I’m looking forward to the most on race day is the legendary support, already the city is filling up but with Chris ‘Macca’ McCormack once describing this race crowd as one of the most vocal he has ever raced at, I can’t wait.
All the action can be tracked online at www.triathlonvitoria.com, make sure you keep an eye on the race. What this may not have in terms of the overall size of say Challenge Roth I expect the passion and vocal support would be something any race would be proud to have.