Triathlete.com contributor Adam W. Chase reports on his experience spectating the Doha Triathlon in Qatar.
Want a really interesting destination race to warm your winter season?
The third edition of the Doha Triathlon took place on the grounds of the impressive and iconic I. M. Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Art today, February 8, 2019. In addition to the kids’ duathlon, there were Olympic, sprint, and super-sprint distances and a separate Qatar National Championship draft-legal sprint races.
Water temps in the still, protected Arabian Gulf sat at 66 degrees Fahrenheit and almost the entire field wore wetsuits. The bike leg is flat as a pancake and goes out along the Al Corniche, the city’s main scenic drag that hugs the bend of the Gulf Coast and offered competitors inspirational views of Doha’s skyline. The turnaround point for the bike leg is in front of the impressive Doha Tower. It was a fast route except for some twists and turns and a short cobblestone section that serves to keep riders on their toes.
All of the courses have different numbers of loops and out-and-backs with as many as four laps for the Olympic distance. You see a lot of your competitors and that put eventual sprint winner, Bernard McCullagh, a 28-year-old Irish expatriate physical education teacher at British school in Doha in a good place to pass in the final K of the run for a repeat win.
McCullagh was third out of T2 and said he really had to dig to pull off the win, using an impressive run to do it on his adopted home turf. The Doha Tri is the third part of a series of five sprint tris in the region and the top three guys have been trading podium spots so it remains a tight race for the overall lead.
Athletes traveled from around the world to compete. Competitor Osama Burahmah flew in the afternoon before the Friday—the Middle Eastern equivalent to our Saturday—race and was the last to get through registration the eve of the race. The 24-year-old came from Kuwait because of the ease of travel to Doha. Burahmah got his mechanical engineering degree at the University of Colorado in 2017 and was on the CU Triathlon Team in Boulder. He flew home the evening of the race.
Doha is an inviting destination and coming here in winter an ideal get away with temps in the 60s and 70s. The city, in the run-up to hosting 2022 World Cup, is on a high growth and hospitality streak and there are plenty of post-race cultural, recreational and foodie activities for exciting ways to unwind. Visit the museum that hosts the race, the souk across the street from the race venue, go SUP the expatriate district of the Pearl or head to the desert to get away from the city.