Distance: Olympic 1500m/ 40K/ 10K & Sprint 750m/ 20K/ 5K
When: September 11, 2011
First man: Xavier Llobet 2:11:02 (Olympic distance)
First woman: Fátima Maestre 2:34:59 (Olympic distance)
Valencia has come up trumps with the perfect end-of-season triathlon challenge. Where else could you swim in a world-class marina, take in some of Europe's most exciting modern architecture and - the piece de resistance - lap a Formula One street circuit?
Such obvious assets easily seduced this triathlon newcomer, who was already twitching to do another race after taking part in the Dextro Energy Hyde Park Triathlon relay. And so, a few weeks later, I boarded the plane at Heathrow with only sheaf of Triathlete's World articles and my mounting hysteria to keep me company. But once I'd landed, dumped my humongous kit bag and scoped out the Marina Real Juan Carlos (the main hub of racing action), my worries seemed to evaporate into the city's blue skies and balmy 37C heat.
I caught the end of the women's triathlon - Saturday was given over to various promotional events - and was impressed by the atmosphere generated by supporters, and relieved by the range of abilities on show. Far from being the preserve of the elites, the Valencia Triathlon appeared to be all about just mucking in and loving the sport - an ethos that suited me just fine.
All that was left was to collect my race number from the small-but-perfectly-formed expo and relax before the big day - hardly a feat in such a charming tourist hotspot. Carb-loading on paella in La Marcelina (lamarcelina.com), one of the many restaurants lining the Playa las Arenas, was the perfect pre-race preparation.
It would have been easy to lapse into holiday mode, but I managed to ignore the lure of the city's Saturday night party atmosphere and, with nerves beginning to tingle, I set my alarm extra early for the second Valencia Triathlon.