Two-time Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee is making good on his promise to give long-distance triathlon a shot in 2017. The Brit has committed to competing in the Challenge Mogán Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands of Spain on Saturday, April 22. The race happens to be the day before Brownlee’s 29th birthday. It will mark Brownlee’s first attempt at taking on the half-iron distance, which consists of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile non-drafting bike and a 13.1-mile run.
“I’m delighted to be racing my first middle distance triathlon race at Gloria Challenge Gran Canaria,” Brownlee stated in the press release. “I’ve made no secret that I am going to spend the next couple of years racing some different distances and I’m really looking forward to the process of preparing for some longer distance races and of course, competing at them. I can’t think of a better place for my first one.”
The bigger test for Brownlee will likely come at May 6’s Ironman 70.3 St. George triathlon. As the North American Pro Championship, the event tends to host the most competitive field outside of the Ironman 70.3 World Championships and Brownlee is currently on the unofficial entry list. This fact was first noticed by Germany’s Sebastian Kienle, a two-time world champion at the distance, who is also planning to compete in St. George.
Brownlee struggled in his only race start so far in 2017, the three-day Super League Tri. He suffered through the first two days of racing before dropping out ahead of the final day of competition, citing illness. Brownlee previously stated that going after the Ironman 70.3 World Championship title in Chattanooga was on his radar for 2017. He plans to try long-distance triathlon until the end of 2018, at which point he will decide whether to pursue a third Olympic gold medal or continue with the longer races.