Swim, bike, run: Over 400 take part in Dubai Women's Triathlon

For most of them, it was about having fun and challenging themselves to complete the gruelling race rather than winning it


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Sun 22 Oct 2023, 3:25 PM

Last updated: Sun 22 Oct 2023, 10:50 PM

Over 400 women made a beeline for the beaches of Jumeirah in the wee hours of Sunday to participate in the sixth edition of the Dubai Women’s Triathlon (DWT). For most of them, it was about having fun and challenging themselves to complete the gruelling race rather than winning it.

Maria Lesnikova has participated in every DWT since she came to live in Dubai in 2021. “It is something I do for joy and not [for] a podium finish,” she said, speaking to Khaleej Times after completing her course. “Also, I love the spirit of this all-women competition. It is a completely different energy. I keep coming back to the competition mostly for that. Every time we pass a camera, all the women pose. And there are so many people who keep cheering us on. It is amazing.”

A triathlon coach by profession, Maria has participated in half Ironman competitions around the region and always finishes with a signature gymnast jump.

“I used to be a gymnast when I was young and I do the jump when I finish because it reflects my happiness,” she said. “Triathlons are challenging but I love the feeling of accomplishment I have every time I finish one.”

Organised by the Dubai Women’s Establishment in partnership with the Dubai Sports Council, the DWT is the first female-only competition of its kind in the region and takes participants past some of the city's iconic destinations as they swim through the Arabian Gulf, run along Dubai Canal and cycle past the Jumeirah Beach.

Family support

Teacher Nicole Iman was cheered on by her parents as she ran past the finish line for her first DWT. The mother of three, who was a member of the UAE triathlon team in Spain earlier this year, finished the course registering her best time ever.

“I was not particularly sporty, but I lived in Ras Al Khaimah for 5 years and a friend introduced me to open water swimming,” she said. “I started enjoying that and then slowly took up running and cycling as well. However, it was only a year ago that I started training seriously for triathlons and each time I run, I find that I get better and faster. It is a lot of fun.”

Her parents, Rachel and Ken, who arrived in the UAE from USA just two days ago said that they were “very proud” to watch her. “Even as a child, she has always done everything wholeheartedly,” said Rachel. “We are incredibly proud of her and what she is achieving.”

For Brazilian expat Rafaela Rochas, it was her husband and their 3-year-old daughter Chloe who were waiting for her as she finished. In fact, it was Chloe who accepted the finisher medal for Rafaela. “My husband is a professional triathlon champion,” she said. “That is how I got interested in it. I struggled to handle both work and the training together but this year, I decided to challenge myself and train properly. This is my second triathlon this year.”

Suitable for participants of all levels, the event has been organised in three categories. Beginners were encouraged to participate in the Super Sprint course which featured a 400m swim, 10km bike ride, and 2.5km run.

More seasoned athletes participated in the Sprint category which included a 750m swim, followed by a 20km bike ride and a 5km run. Meanwhile, the Olympic Standard course participants had to complete a 1.5km swim, embark on a 40km bike journey, and conclude with a 10km run.

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