Gravel Biking

Gravel racing focuses on long distance off-road riding that is less technical than mountain biking. This sport is designed to be accessible to riders of all abilities, making it a great way to get into bicycle racing.

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What to Expect at a Gravel Race

A gravel race functions more like a running event than a road cycling race. The largest events have thousands of competitors ranging from beginners to pro athletes. The race begins with a mass start, putting everyone on the course at the same time. There’s no broom van in gravel events, so competitors need to bring tools for on-course repairs. On longer races, racers carry first aid kits, in case they have an injury in a remote area.

Races come in three major formats. A standard gravel race is usually longer than a road race, although many events have several course options. An enduro race has ride rs complete timed segments that are part of a larger course. It’s up to the riders to decide how fast they want to ride between the segments. Ultra-endurance events are similar to randonneuring, with cyclists riding long distances unsupported. Depending on the length of the route, it might be a single day event, or have several stages. Metric and imperial century-length races are common, but some events span hundreds or thousands of kilometres.

Gravel racing has been around for about 15 years, and the first production gravel bike came out just a decade ago. Due to this short history, regulations are looser than other racing formats. This lets each gravel cyclist choose from a wide range of tires, handlebars and even frames, so they can tailor their bike to fit race conditions. This relaxed attitude extends outside the race. Most events have a party atmosphere, and pros are free to mingle with fans.

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Asbel Rutto wins the Acea Run Rome The Marathon with a race record

18 Mar, 2024 (Mon)

Among women, Ivyne Lagat wins in 2h24’36" and writes her name in the roll of honor With 2h06’24" the Kenyan Asbel Rutto sets the new race record The Last Cup was awarded to Julia Khvasechko 129 flags are waving on the starting line ROME – Rome woke up to a magnificent day, with the sun caressing all the runners and illuminating their smiles, their desire to party and add a new piece of history to the thousand-year history of this city. Record number of participants and foreigners, male race record, exceptional conditions to embark on the journey towards the 30th birthday on March 16, 2025. There were the volunteers of the Roman Legion Historical Group who gave a solemn character to the start of the most attended sporting event in Italy by making the ancient shoes resonate while the musical band of the Municipal Police Corps of Rome Capital sang the Anthem National under the watchful eye of the Colosseum. It was then the Councilor for Major Events, Sport and Tourism of Rome Capital Alessandro Onorato who gave the official start at 8.30 am to around 19 thousand marathon runners, almost 11 thousand from abroad, who set off in the four waves to go and conquer the streets of the Eternal City. 40 thousand hearts fueled by the strength of the values of sport, friendship, solidarity, the desire to redeem obstacles. Before the official start, departure at 8.25 for the Inix pushers and the wheelchair athletes including the Paralympic athlete Toni Milano. THE POPE’S GREETING TO THE ANGELUS – "I welcome with pleasure the participants in the Rome Marathon, the traditional celebration of sport and brotherhood. Also this year, on the initiative of Athletica Vaticana, numerous athletes are involved in the “relays of solidarity”, becoming witnesses of sharing", Pope Francis’ comment at the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square. FINISH (MEN) – Final solo by the Kenyan Asbel Rutto who with 2h06’24" (2’59"/km) wrote a new course record, improving the 2:06:48 of the Ethiopian Bekele Tefera Fikre who won it in 2022 and his personal best of almost 3’. Place of honor for Brian Kipsang in 2h07’54" followed by Sila Kiptoo in 2h08’08" who precedes a long trail of ten Kenyans. Great race by Edgardo Confessa (Km Sport) who rose to 14th position and closed his efforts in 2h26’02" (3’28"/km). Silver medal for Ettore Scardecchia (Asd Running Evolution) in 2h28’33" followed by Fabrizio Meoli (Int. Security) with 2h29’15". “Winning in such a beautiful city with a new race record is a great emotion. I struggled several times on the cobblestones but I was very sure of my condition and my goal. True, the last 10km I was a little tired and I suffered a little from the heat but the motivation was very high. I’m not at all surprised by my move to the half marathon so early: my legs responded well and I wanted to give my best. I managed to admire this fantastic city a little and I have to thank the large audience who supported me throughout the entire journey,” said the winning Kenyan. FINISH (WOMEN)-Victory with an extraordinary personal best for the Kenyan Ivyne Lagat who finishes her efforts in 2h24’36 “(3’25” / km). The women’s podium was completed by Kenyan Lydia Simiyu in 2h25’10" and Ethiopian Emebet Niguse in 2h26’41". Tenth overall was the first of the Italians Denise Tappatà (Stamura Ancona) who crossed the finish line in 2h47’50" (3’59"/km), followed by Paola Salvatori (US Roma 83) in 2h50’48" and Damiana Monfreda (Amatori Atl Acquaviva) in 2h55’10". “What a satisfaction to win in Rome, I’m very happy with my performance. I improved my personal marathon time by about 16 minutes. I couldn’t ask for anything better. I loved racing in Rome with a huge audience applauding me. I struggled in the last 5km of the race but I held on because I wanted this result too much,” said the winner. Acea Run Rome Photos – 2024
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3 min read

9 Truly Unique Endurance Events in 2024

27 Feb, 2024 (Tue)

There’s nothing like testing your limits amid jaw-dropping scenery. Think the frozen grandeur of Antarctica, the Himalayan peaks and 7th century imperial Chinese landmarks. Not only do these races offer a grueling physical challenge, but they also give you the chance to explore some of the planet’s most breathtaking and unique destinations. Read on to find out Ahotu’s top 2024 endurance events that take place in truly unique locations. 1. HAUT – High Atlas Ultra Trail (Morocco) Discover the exceptional beauty of the High Atlas Mountains, navigating through secret villages, waterfalls, and steep peaks in this demanding – but rewarding – ultra trail. Imlil, Morocco 01-02 Jun, 2024 2. Antarctic Marathon & Half Marathon (Antarctica) Submit to the ultimate test of endurance in the frozen wilderness of Antarctica. Participants brave sub-zero temperatures as they conquer the southernmost marathon on Earth. Patriot Hills, Antarctica 13 Dec, 2024 3. Great Wall Marathon (China) Run along one of the world’s most iconic landmarks, tackling thousands of steps and steep ascents as you traverse the ancient Great Wall of China. Huangyaguan, China 18 May, 2024 4. Patagonian International Marathon (Chile) Take in the untamed beauty of Patagonia as you race through Torres del Paine National Park, surrounded by glaciers, mountains, and crystal-blue lakes. Punta Arenas, Chile 07 Sep, 2024 5. Pursuit in Paradise Aitutaki Marathon (Cook Islands) Embark on a tropical island oasis on the enchanting island of Aitutaki. This marathon takes in Aitutaki’s extraordinary beauty, and you can wind down in the island’s lagoons afterwards. Aitutaki, Cook Islands 30 Apr-02 May, 2024 6. Lavaredo Ultra Trail (Italy) Challenge yourself amidst the breathtaking scenery of the Dolomites, tackling rugged trails and high-altitude passes in one of Europe’s most prestigious ultra marathons. Cortina d’Ampezzo, Veneto, Italy 26-29 Jun, 2024 7. Inca Trail Marathon (Peru) This thrilling endurance challenge takes place amidst the stunning landscapes of Peru. Navigate ancient Inca trails, steep mountain passes, and the breathtaking scenery of the Andes Mountains. Machu Picchu, Peru 06 Jun, 2024 8. Everest Trail Race (Nepal) Explore the rugged terrain of the Himalayas. Participants tackle high-altitude trails, snowy peaks, and remote mountain villages as they journey through Nepal’s stunning landscapes. Khatmandu, Nepal 11 Nov, 2024 9. Big Five Marathon (South Africa) Experience the thrill of running alongside Africa’s iconic wildlife in the Entabeni Game Reserve, where lions, elephants, and rhinos roam freely amidst stunning savannah landscapes. Entabeni, South Africa 15 Jun, 2024 42 km Want to know more? Ahotu has 40,000 events from 28 different sports – your next challenge is just around the corner.
2 min read

Behind the race - An insight into the Long Course Weekend Belgium with Matthias Lievens

13 Feb, 2024 (Tue)

Participants share a moment of celebration on the LCW red carpet In this interview series, Ahotu will be speaking with the people behind some of the most unique races across the globe. We’ll be discussing the history of the event, challenges and how to overcome them, attracting sponsors, reaching new runners and more! Thanks for joining us Matthias. For those that don’t know you or the LCW Belgium, could you please introduce yourself and the race? Of course! My name is Matthias Lievens and I act as Race Director for the Belgian version of the Long Course Weekend. I’m a passionate sports enthusiast and event organizer, a combination that led me to this role. After I took part in Long Course Weekend Wales back in 2019, I was immediately sold. I was captivated by the event’s unique atmosphere and knew I had to bring this experience to Belgium. Fast forward five years, we’re the biggest multi-sport event in Belgium and are currently making preparations for our 4th (and biggest) edition this September. For those new to the Long Course Weekend format, how does the event work? How does it differ from a regular triathlon? Long Course Weekend is a one-of-a-kind sports event. Over a single weekend, we host a series of 11 races, that span across 3 disciplines over 3 days: swimming, cycling and running. What really makes our event stand out is how it lets each participant customize their own sports-packed weekend just the way they like it. Athletes have the option to compete in a full triathlon (over 3 days), mix and match disciplines according to their own preference, or focus on a single discipline. Because we offer a variety of disciplines and distances, Long Course Weekend Belgium really has something for everyone. You could be a pro athlete, a total newcomer, or a family looking for a fun day out. The Long Course Weekend also takes place in the UK, New Zealand and Spain. What does the Belgian version offer participants? Apart from our unique concept, what really makes our race stand out is its location, Nieuwpoort. The city offers an amazing spot for swimming in the inner harbour and serves as the perfect starting point for our cycling and running courses. Our bike courses wind through historic World War sites, Flanders Fields and the classic cobblestone streets. The 180k course also features the famous Kemmelberg (a notable hill amongst the otherwise relatively flat Flanders landscape), adding an extra challenge for the cyclists. The running courses, on the other hand, are flat, making them excellent for beginners or those looking to break their personal running records. The courses take you through the beautiful polders and along the coastal scenery of Nieuwpoort and nearby areas. And then, there’s the grand finale: all our races end with a big, vibrant red carpet finish. It’s a special moment for every finisher, with friends and family cheering on the sidelines as they receive their well-deserved medal. Matthias oversees the various races that make up the Long Course Weekend Belgium How long has the race been taking place and how has it grown? This year’s weekend over the 20th – 22nd of September will be our 4th edition. Each year, we’ve seen a strong increase in the number of participants. This includes both new faces getting into the concept, as well as returning athletes who are keen to take on more disciplines than before. So far this year, the sign-up numbers are already looking great. We’re actually expecting to double our participant count from the 2023 edition, which is super exciting for us. Which countries do your participants come from? Last year, we welcomed participants from over 30 countries, which was really exciting for us. Naturally, a lot of our athletes come from neighboring countries like the Netherlands, Germany, the UK and France. But what’s truly thrilling is seeing a growing number of participants traveling from far-off places to join us here in Belgium. We’ve had athletes from as far as South Africa, Chile and the Philippines. It feels fantastic to welcome these international participants and offer them a unique experience in our event. We’re pleased to work with Ahotu to increase our international participation and reach. Thousands of participants take part from 30+ countries across the globe There are a lot of moving parts to your event, with various distances, race formats and thousands of participants. What logistical challenges does this represent? Each day has its own challenges. On Swim Day, we have around 500 athletes in the water, where anything can happen. To ensure safety, we deploy a large team of rescuers and first-aiders who remain on high alert along the sidelines, ready to respond at a moment’s notice. Bike Day brings its own set of complexities. We are committed to designing one-loop courses, which, especially for the 180k distance, is quite a logistical feat. However, this setup greatly enhances the experience for our participants, making the effort worthwhile. The most demanding day, though, is Run Day. With thousands of runners on the course simultaneously, managing the aid stations becomes a critical task. Ensuring that all athletes have access to their nutrition at the right times is crucial for their performance and safety. This requires meticulous planning and coordination to keep everything running smoothly and to provide the best possible experience for all involved. What is your favourite thing about putting on the event? This has to be the 4th medal ceremony on Sunday. This is where we celebrate all the full Long Course Weekend finishers. It’s a truly special moment, each finisher walks through a guard of honour to receive their well-deserved and unique fourth medal. They’ve given their all for 3 straight days and this is the time we celebrate their incredible effort and achievement. Besides that, there’s a huge sense of relief and satisfaction for me at the end of the event. Knowing that our team pulled off another epic event, providing a unique experience to so many different people, each with their own stories, is immensely rewarding. At this moment, with the weight lifted off my shoulders, I already begin to look forward to the next edition! LCW races offer participants the chance to test themselves across multiple disciplines Are there any partners / sponsors you would like to shout out? We’ve had amazing partners over the years helping us build this event. A huge thanks to our host city, Nieuwpoort, our sport nutrition partner Etixx and Bodycross for our LCW merchandise. Thanks to SwimTribe for the swim training sessions and Peaks for wetsuit rentals on swim day. We’re pleased to be working with Ahotu to increase our digital reach and help even more participants across the globe discover and enjoy our unique race weekend. There are so many more who contribute to making this event a success and we’re grateful to each one of them! Where else do Long Course Weekend organise events? The Long Course Weekend events are held in several awesome places. Of course the original one in Wales, then we’ve got New Zealand, a cool dual-edition in Mallorca and as of 2024, we’ve added Yorkshire to the mix! Each location has its own unique vibe and elements to the concept. What would you recommend participants do during their time in Belgium? The city of Nieuwpoort and the beach of Nieuwpoort. You can take a walk along the harbour channel and visit the largest pleasure port in Northern Europe. You can also check out the Albert I monument and more in the city and the surrounding area. Hungry? Try the Flemish beef stew, Moules-frites or of course Belgian chocolate! After your sporting challenge, reward yourself with a Belgian beer! If you have a bit more time, consider visiting the stunning medieval cities of Bruges and Ghent. Both cities are renowned for their historical charm, picturesque canals and rich cultural heritage. They are definitely worth a visit and offer a delightful taste of Belgian history and culture. The LCW Belgium offers a wide range of distances and disciplines to enjoy When is the next edition of the Long Course Weekend Belgium? The next edition is from the 20th to 22nd of September, check out our Instagram for regular updates on the race @LCWBelgium Interested in taking part? You can register for the 2024 edition of the Long Course Weekend Belgium on Ahotu – Long Course Weekend Belgium To feature in our interview series you can drop us an email on [email protected] Interested in promoting your race with World’s Marathons or Ahotu? Contact us on [email protected]
7 min read

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