Wednesday,19 June, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1425, (10 - 16 January 2019)
Wednesday,19 June, 2019
Issue 1425, (10 - 16 January 2019)

Ahram Weekly

Triathlons for all

Triathlons are now not only being practised by professionals in Egypt, as Mai Samih finds out


#The Sahl Hasheesh Triathlon 2018 Winter Edition # The Sahl Hasheesh Triathlon 2018 Winter Edition
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Many people watch sports competitions on TV and wish they were as fit as the players they see. The good news is that this could now be possible for more people, as a result of a current trend among non-professional would-be athletes to take up triathlons.

Defined as a multisport event with three continuous and sequential endurance activities, often swimming, cycling and running, triathlon training is now available to people in Egypt as it is to more and more people around the globe.

Ali Ezz is a running and cycling trainer preparing non-professionals to take part in triathlons. “I live in 6 October city and commute every day to work in Tagammu Al-Khamis [Fifth Settlement]. My hobbies have long been swimming, cycling and running as they help me with a long day’s work,” said Ezz, who is in charge of IT in a private company. “I decided that it was time to give sports a larger position in my life, so I joined the Cycling Elite community after attending extensive training courses myself,” he says.

A triathlon is a competition performed on a monthly or annual basis, and anyone can enter after suitable training in swimming, followed by cycling, followed by running.

“There is a community for triathlons in Egypt named the Tri-Factory, the first to host a triathlon event in the country in 2014. Before that, the International Triathlon Union [ITU] would host only one event in Egypt. The Tri-Factory started non-professional triathlon events in Egypt as a result of an idea by Ayman Hakki and Mahmoud Abdel-Hakim in late 2013. The first event was hosted in 2014, and 100 triathletes participated,” Ezz said.

The participants were trained by Tri-Factory members, and 1,000 took part in the latest event last November. They have so far organised about 10 triathlons.

There are five categories in triathlons. The first is the super-sprint distance, which is 300m in swimming, 10km in cycling and 2.5km in running. The second is the sprint distance, which is 750m in swimming, 20km in cycling and 5km in running. The distance category is 1.5km in swimming, 40km in cycling and 10km in running.

These are the categories practised in triathlons as an Olympics sport. But there is also a much longer triathlon organised by the Iron Man Foundation, a global foundation specialising in triathlon events, which has the “half iron man” and the “full iron man” competition. The half iron man distances are 1.9km in swimming, 90km in cycling and 21km in running, all requiring a great deal of fitness of any athlete. The full iron man is 4km in swimming, 180km cycling and 42.2km in running, or a full marathon.

A triathlon involves the swimming event first, after which a participant comes out of the water, takes a bike, finishes the distance in cycling, leaves the bike in the transition area, takes a pair of running shoes and starts the running competition.  

“In a triathlon, you can either participate as an individual, in which case you go through the three phases alone, or as part of a team,” Ezz said. For example, one member of the team could do the swimming, another could do the cycling and a third could run. “This applies whether you are a professional or not,” he added, and one way or another all three sports must be completed.

Ezz compares professionals and amateurs taking part in triathlons. “Professional triathlon athletes are either committed to a team or they are registered in their national federation. For example, in Egypt there are Egyptian players registered in the Egyptian Triathlon Federation. They are dedicated to exercising for triathlons about two to three times per week, since it is their career,” he said.

“As for non-professionals, which I fall under, they could be normal people engaged in their daily work and taking part in triathlons as a hobby.”

Non-professionals train for shorter distances to practise the first three triathlon categories. “For the super sprint, they should train for about six months maximum to get their body ready to participate. For the sprint race, they will have to prepare for at least one year because it is a longer distance. As for the Olympics triathlon, it is a much longer distance, so the minimum is two years of training,” Ezz said.

The aim of the Tri-Factory is to improve the degree of fitness, endurance and stamina of the participants over the years.

“I have been training for about six years and participated in the Olympics-style event. I am doing it as a hobby that has many benefits on the psychological and the physical level. My health and fitness have improved. Since I am office-based for work, sports are beneficial for me. I am looking forward to taking it to the next level, which means participating in international events outside Egypt. Triathlon is almost my second career. Now I do running, swimming and cycling on a daily basis,” Ezz said.

Amateurs wanting to participate in a triathlon should join at least one of the triathlon communities now in Egypt. They should start training to get their body ready for the event, and there are many websites to tell them how to do this. For example, the Tri-Factory community has a website on which people can register for the spring and winter events in April and November. For the international events held in Sharm El-Sheikh, participants should register on the ITU website.

“Beginners should join triathlon training communities first, which are of two types, open and closed. The first are free, while the second charge fees,” Ezz said. Most of the communities are based in Cairo. There is one in Maadi for junior participants starting from ages seven or eight, though Tri-Factory is based in 6 October city, and there is another community in New Cairo. Triathlon can be for all ages.

“My future plans are to enter the semi-professional category for those who are not professionals but are improving their fitness,” Ezz said. “My aim is to improve my fitness to be able to represent Egypt in international events. This is my long-term goal, however. For the moment, it remains my hobby that I am doing my best to improve in.”

Tri-Factory now hosts two main triathlons and one marathon each year, the next being the Pyramids event in February.

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