Israman 2019 preview

Considered one of the most challenging races in the world, the Israman triathlon has steadily grown over the years to become a bucket-list half- or full-distance race for those looking to take in a race-cation in Israel.

| January 22, 2019 | RACES

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

It began in 1999 when 26 athletes competed in the first Israman event, won by American's Scott (10:16:52) and Julie Willett (11:35:19) and, while there was a four-year break after the 2001 event, the Israman Triathlon has been going strong ever since.

Held in the resort town of Eilat, the southernmost point in Israel, the race now routinely attracts over 1,500 athletes (there were 1,900 in 2016), including a number of elite competitors. The course is fierce - while the swim that takes place in the relatively warm waters of the Red Sea, (21-24 degrees Celsius or 70-76 Fahrenheit), that's followed with a challenging bike course that includes a steep, long climb up into the mountains along Route No. 12. The half-distance bike features 1,895 m of climbing. You get to add another 1,293 if you do the full-distance race. As if the climbing wasn't enough - competitors traditionally enjoy some gusty winds along the course, too.

T2 is actually at the top of the long climb, which means athletes get to enjoy a 600 m descent over the first 12 km of the run, which sounds good until you realize you're doing that on tired quads. Once you're down, though, the rest of the run is relatively flat.

But triathlon races aren't supposed to be easy, right?

The pro field on hand for the full-distance race includes defending men's champion Till Schram (GER), who will do his best to defend his title against last year's runner-up, David Jilek (CZE) and 2017 champion, Dan Alterman (ISR). Other international pros in the men's race include Germany's Peter Seidel and Christian Altstad, Italy's Marco Corti and Erik-Simon Strijk from the Netherlands.

Israel's Antonia Reznikov is back to try and defend her title and will face last year's runner-up Simona Krivankova. Other women to watch in the elite competition are Great Britain's Parys Edwards, Canadian Jennifer Lentzke, the Ukraine's Oleksandra Hryshyna and Israel's Dora Heller and Irena Mazin. managing editor is in Israel to cover this year's race - stay tuned for more of our coverage throughout the week.