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2013 Abu Dhabi International Triathlon

Chris Lepik provides on site coverage.

Saturday marks the fourth anniversary of the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon. As transition zones are getting set up and swim buoys are being put in place Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee, who is set to compete in the short course race, spent some time Wednesday afternoon with some local school kids from the American School. He talked to them about the basics of swimming in a triathlon. Many of them will be competing in their first triathlon and the former World Champion gave then insight into everything from the importance of a strong start to sighting and getting around swim buoys.

The race as always has an impressive pro field. Canadian pro’s Heather Wurtele, Rachel McBride, Tenille Hoogland and Nathan Killam have all made the journey to compete. The Abu Dhabi International Triathlon has become one of the most prestigious races on the calendar and this year has a record 2050 athletes from 76 countries in attendance all vying for the $230,000 US in prize money.

Returning pro’s like Frederik Van Lierde, who is a race day favourite, feels this is a great way to test early season fitness and kick off the year with a good result. Also lining up on the start line will be Xterra World Champion Conrad Stolz who admits he hasn’t done a road tri in about 10 years but really wanted to visit the UAE with his wife. He said it’s a great experience and a great challenge.

Chris McCormack is also racing after a rollercoaster ride between short course and long course racing in 2012. Macca seems very circumspect and admits for him he’s just happy to be still racing with all these guys.

On the women’s side Nikki Butterfield is back to defend her title. Butterfield is coming back to racing after about a four-month break. She admits it’s challenging balancing both being a new mom and a full time professional athlete and said she did much of her run training pushing a baby stroller. Ironman World Champion runner-up Caroline Steffen and 70.3 World Champion Melissa Hauschildt (nee Rollison) will also be ones to watch.

The event will be broadcast online for the first time from 11am UAE Time (07:00 GMT) on Race Day via the event’s www.youtube.com/user/AbuDhabiTriathlon homepage.