Champs Bakkegard and Ryf return to defend their IRONMAN 70.3 Dubai titles

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Around 2,500 athletes will take part in Saturday’s sold-out IRONMAN 70.3 Dubai.

Gulf Today, Staff Reporter

Swiss legend and three-time Dubai champion Daniela Ryf will be back in Jumeirah this weekend, alongside 2021 men’s champion Daniel Bakkegard and Tokyo Olympic men’s triathlon winner Kristian Blummenfelt, to defend her IRONMAN 70.3 Dubai crown.

The Dubai women’s champion in 2016, 2017 and 2021, Ryf is one the legends of the sport and has won five IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship titles (2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019) and four IRONMAN World Championship (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018).

Last year, the 34-year-old Ryf (03:56:54) had pipped Swiss compatriot and 2020 Dubai winner Imogen Simmonds (04:02:02) with a blistering run on the streets of Jumeirah to clinch her third Dubai crown, while Sweden’s Sara Svensk (04:05:17) had finished third.

Simmonds and Svensk will not be in Dubai this weekend, but world No2 Ryf could face a stiff challenge from world No3 Laura Philipp of Germany as she defends her crown.

In the men’s, Denmark’s Bakkegard — who set a new Dubai record with a time of 03:33:02, improving on Jan Frodeno’s 2016 time of 03:34:48 – is set for a much tougher challenge with Norwegian Blummenfelt in the fray alongside Portugal’s Filipe Azevedo, who finished second last year, and 2020 Dubai champion Bart Aernouts of Belgium.

Blummenfelt, who made history in 2021 by becoming the first male triathlete to win the Olympic and World titles in the same year, is also the world record holder for the 70.3 distance with a time of 3:25:21 (2019 IRONMAN 70.3 Middle East Championships in Bahrain), as well as the record holder for the 140.6 distance with a time of 7:21:12.

Pieter Heemeryck, who finished second in 2020 behind Aernouts, will also be here at the weekend, along with Andrea Salvisberg, who finished fourth last year, and Antony Costes, who was fifth behind Salvisberg.

Supported by Dubai Sports Council and organized under the slogan ‘Anything is Possible’, IRONMAN 70.3 Dubai is billed as a race that bridges the exotic with the luxurious, and, fast and flat, it also a gateway to brand new personal best times.

More than 2,500 have registered to take part in this year’s sold-out IRONMAN 70.3 Dubai, including nearly 100 elite professionals, and the race will again take place in the famed Jumeirah district, around Burj Al Arab, the stunning seven-star hotel that has hosted celebrities from all over the world.

The one-loop 1.9km (1.2 mile) swim course is set to the backdrop of the world-famous Burj Al Arab hotel, with athletes starting their swim next to the Jumeirah Beach Hotel and finishing at Jumeirah Public Beach before they run into transition.

The one-loop 90 km (56 mile) bike course leads athletes through the city before they leave the city limits behind and venture out and into the Arabian Dunes. This is considered one of the fastest courses in the world if winds don’t come into play.

The one and a half-loop 21.1 km (13.1 mile) run course starts at transition on Jumeirah Public Beach and leads athletes along the coastline, until the finish at Jumeirah Public Beach.

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