Last year the Mayor of Marbella and the organizers of Ironman announced that the world’s most famous triathlon would coming to Marbella in 2018 and that it would be held here for at least three years. This is an Ironman 70.3 event which is half the distance of a full distance race, but is excellent news for Marbella as it will bring participants and spectators from around the world to compete.
The first Ironman 70.3 Marbella will take place on the 29th of April this year and comprises a 1.9km swim, a 90km bike ride and a 21.1km run. They chose Marbella for the excellent climate and facilities, as well as the beautiful setting for the race. Participants will enjoy their 1,900 meter swim in the Mediterranean, coming back to the shore at Puerto Banus’ Levante beach. After the swim, the competitors will grab their bikes for a 90 kilometre ride along the Golden Mile, crossing the town and heading up to Ojen, Monda, Coin and Cartama, before coming back to Puerto Banus. The 21km run starts at Banus and goes along the stunning seafront promenade to Marbella, with two laps completing the distance.
This is a highly challenging event, but open to both professionals and amateurs. When tickets went on sale in June they quickly sold out in both categories. There are over 1,500 people taking part in the event, with 57 nationalities represented, 37% of the athletes come from Spain and 25% from the UK. If you missed out on the chance to take part in the Ironman event this year, don’t worry, you can still cheer the racers on and line the route. You can also build up to the challenge with a few smaller events so you’re ready for next year.
To prepare for the run, why not train to do the Marbella Half Marathon that takes place at the end of September each year? This is the same distance as the run in the Ironman 70.3 triathlon, so if you can manage the half marathon that will give you a lot of confidence to enter the 2019 race. Look out for the 5K races which are held for charity through the year as well, these are excellent training opportunities and always have a lovely atmosphere.
Watching the Ironman
If you are a spectator coming to cheer on friends or family, there are lots of great places to watch the action. If you want to see a little bit of everything, enjoy the sun on Levante Beach and wait for the swimmers to arrive after their 1.9km swim and change over to their bikes, these transitions are always really exciting and an easy way to see the two stages. Later in the day why not choose to enjoy a drink and some nibbles in one of the great beachfront restaurants and cafes which line the promenade to cheer on the runners in the final stage of the race in style and comfort? We recommend indulging in a long buffet lunch at the refined restaurant Sea Grill beachside in the Puente Romano, which overlooks the paseo and the sea beyond and would be a wonderful place to watch the competitors go by.
Things to do before and after the Ironman
If you are travelling to Marbella for the Ironman event, here are a few insider’s tips from our experts on things to do before and after the race.
If you’re a competitor –
Before – Train at one of Marbella’s excellent gyms such as Glow in Puerto Banus which has a pool, fitness classes and a gym and offers day passes for non-members. There are also many adventure activities around Marbella which can be part of your training and a great way to get to know the area, such as hiking, mountain biking, or horse riding. The more ambitious of you may want to try climbing the iconic La Concha mountain, which sits just behind Marbella. It is 1,200 meters at its summit and the climb takes around 6 hours, round trip.
After – To ease aching muscles, head to one of the area’s fantastic spas, for a deep tissue sports massage, to relax in the Jacuzzi and feel the tension melt away in the steam room. Check out our list of the best Marbella spas.
Once you’ve relaxed, you’ll need fuel to help those muscles recover. We have a list of recommended restaurants in Marbella on our website, but a great option for health conscious athletes would be the stunning Japanese restaurant Ta-Kumi which specialises in wonderful sushi in a refined atmosphere. Alternatively, if your body is craving the calories and protein that only an amazing steak can offer, head down to Hacienda Patagonica, which we believe serves the best steak in town.
If you’re a supporter –
If you have just come along to cheer on the participants, you have an excellent opportunity to enjoy everything that Marbella has to offer. This is so much more than just a beach destination, so whether you’re a golf fan, culture vulture, or gourmet traveller, Marbella has something for you.
The must see sights are best explored on foot, so ditch the car in a central location and take to the streets. Marbella Old Town is a gem, brimming with history and charm and the perfect place to start. Take a stroll, look at the chapels and church, pop into the Engravings Museum for a little art and enjoy a coffee in one of the beautiful squares.
From there head down to the sea along the Avenida del Mar and admire the statues by Salvador Dali. Then do a lap around the pretty Marbella marina and stop for a drink in one of the many bars before walking along to Puerto Banus. This is a lovely walk which will take you just under an hour, strolling along the seafront promenade (the route the runners will take for the Ironman). For those of you not in a hurry, stop off for a spot of lunch along the way and pop into the Museo Ralli, just a few paces from the beach, which boasts an amazing collection of Latin American art.
Arrive in Puerto Banus to admire the super yachts and cars and to enjoy a little retail therapy in the many designer boutiques. A great way back to Marbella is to hop on the Catamaran Ferry which goes back and forth between Banus and Marbella around once an hour, check out the timetable and prices here. If you take the last boat at 6pm, you will get back to Marbella port in perfect time for sundowners, and there are excellent cocktail bars facing the beach which get the last of the sun. This little trip will give you a sense of the history, culture, lifestyle and beautiful scenery that we’re lucky enough to enjoy all year round here in Marbella!
Where to stay?
A great option for participants and spectators alike to experience the real Marbella is to choose a luxury vacation rental property. With a vacation rental you have the space and facilities to prepare healthy and delicious meals in the run up to the race and soak in the tub directly after. There’s room to store all your gear and you can live like a local during your stay. We have some excellent Golden Mile vacation rentals, which offer easy access to the seafront promenade between Marbella and Banus where the run will take place and we’d recommend choosing one of these as your base.
Good luck to all the competitors for the months of training ahead. You have the hard job, but we are here to help you to find the perfect vacation rental and offer all the extras you need to have a great trip and do your best in the race. We can stock your fridge before you arrive and even arrange for a masseuse to come and visit your apartment or villa before or after the race for a deep tissue massage. Nothing is too much trouble, so please don’t hesitate to ask