Challenge Family has started the New Year by announcing a partnership with the world’s oldest triathlon outside of Hawaii. The Holland Triathlon, based in Almere, has been running since 1981 and now joins the other great legacy events of the sport, Challenge Roth, Challenge Penticton and Challenge Phuket as Challenge Almere-Amsterdam on September 14, 2013.
The Almere course is the world’s only long distance triathlon course located below sea level on reclaimed land at the bottom of what was once the Zuiderzee (South Sea), just 25 kilometers from the Dutch capital of Amsterdam. Still surrounded by water, the course features the typical Dutch landscapes renowned the world over – dikes, windmills, tulip fields and endless straight, fast roads where the battle is between you and the elements.
Almere’s long history of triathlon includes hosting four European Championships (1985, 1991, 1999, 2006) and two World Championships (2003 and 2008) with the race record held by Jan van der Marel with a time of 7:57:46.
René Peeters, alderman of the City of Almere, said the city was looking forward to adding a new era to its triathlon history. “Almere and triathlon are strongly linked. Triathlon is the DNA of our community. There are two triathlon clubs, we have the national schools championships, a regional high performance centre and many volunteers. And by joining forces with a cultural festival, the race is a party for everyone. In the Challenge Family races, like Challenge Roth, we recognize events strongly rooted in the community. We share that philosophy and together we can build Challenge Almere-Amsterdam into a significant international event.”
“Almere is a city about innovations, it’s incredible what it has achieved during its short lifespan and it’s the ideal venue for a triathlon,” said Felix Walchshöfer, CEO of Challenge Family. “But what is best of all is something that is absolutely unique to Almere and that is its enduring legacy of triathlon. Older than even Roth in this respect, it is an honour to have such a vital piece of triathlon’s rich history included within the Challenge Family. The list of athletes who have raced here reads like a triathlon ‘hall of fame’, along with many thousands of age groupers and we look forward to welcoming many more to the Challenge Family as part of Challenge Almere-Amsterdam.”
One of those athletes is renowned Dutch triathlete, Rob Barel, Olympian, multiple European and National Champion as well as Long Distance World Champion. “I stood as a beginner triathlete in 1983 with a mix of ambitions dreams, enormous admiration and a little wonder to watch the start of the first Almere triathlon. It was the birthplace of the sport in the Netherlands and Europe itself. Now more than thirty years later, this classic survived many critical moments. Almere was, is and always will remain a classic. Just like my first time, it will inspire, challenge and astonish many more athletes. The second oldest triathlon in the world is a monument that we should cherish.”
The start and finish of Challenge Almere-Amsterdam will take place in the heart of the Almere’s city centre, on the Esplanade, an area renowned for its culture and futuristic architecture. The two-lap swim takes place in the Weerwater, adjacent to the Esplanade. The name means ‘water again’, as this lake was dug after the city of Almere was reclaimed from the Zuiderzee, bringing the water back. The bike course will take athletes through the province of Flevoland, racing along the former Zuiderzee sea bed, between dikes and windmills. The run course features four laps of 10,5k through the city of Almere, alternating between modern architecture and calming nature and green spaces surrounding the Weerwater.
Race director, Richard Belderok, said, “Forming a partnership with Challenge Family allows Almere to secure its long lasting history and future of our iconic and typically Dutch race.”
The Challenge Family celebrates the sport of triathlon through its global series of long distance events and festivals that are changing the face of long distance racing around the world with its focus on athlete experience. Featuring spectacular courses in iconic destinations, Challenge Family events focus on delivering the race of a lifetime to every athlete, and creating a memorable spectator experience that captures all the excitement and emotion of this inspirational sport.
The Challenge Family series currently features 18 events around the world including the world’s largest long distance triathlon, Challenge Roth in Germany. Other Challenge Family races take place in Germany, Austria, Canada, UK, France, Spain, Italy, Denmark, New Zealand, Thailand, Taiwan and now Holland. Entries to Challenge Almere-Amsterdam open today, 8 January at www.challenge-almere.com.