Desafio Doñana - Andalucia Triathlon

© Michelle Chaplow Men's Category winners
Men's Category winners Desafio Doñana 2011

Andalucia Desafio Doñana - Triathlon

Desafío Doñana 2024

Sat 5th October 2024

(tbc by the organisors)

The Andalucía Desafío Doñana (Andalucia Doñana Challenge) - Triathlon was inaugurated in 2009 as a premier sporting event to showcase some of the white villages of Cadiz and the Doñana National Park. A clearly successful event that has been held every year since, traditionally on the second Saturday in September. Since then Covid has been held on different Saturdays in October. It is a spectacular sporting event both for the competitors, their families and the spectators. The triathlon always starts in Sanlucar de Barrameda, unusually for a Triathlon with cycling first; a 100km cycle circuit, then a 1.4 km swim accross the River Guadalquivir estuary. The highlight of this annual triathlon event is the 30km run along the endless unspoilt beach of the Doñana National Park. This is a special test of endurance and, apart from the start and finish, there are no spectators to encourage the runners.

The 2019 edition took place on Saturday 21th September 2019.
The 2021 edition took place on Saturday 23rd September 2021.
The 2022 edition took place on Saturday 1st October 2022.
The 2023 edition took place on Saturday 21st October 2023.

CYCLE  - 100 km 

The editions since 2013 feature a 90km cycle which was increased to 100 km in 2016. this takes place on low-lying generally flat tarmaced country roads entirely within the Sherry Triangle of Sanlucar, Jerez and El Puerto de Santa Maria, Rota and Chipiona in Cadiz province.

The first editions of the race from 2009 to 2011 featured a much more grueling 169km cycle into to the hill top white village of Arcos de la Frontera. As can be seen in the video at the top of the page, this original cycle route started out from Bajo de Guía beach inSanlúcar de Barrameda, the cyclists skirt around the outskirts of Jerez, then begin the stiff climb up to the white village of Arcos de la Frontera. The race had a special award called Premio de la Montaña (Prize of the Mountain). Then it was back downhill toEl Puerto de Santa Maria and along the coast to Chipiona, finishing off back at Bajo de Guía in Sanlúcar de Barrameda to transition into the swimming section.The 2012 race did not take place for eonomic reasons.

SWIM - 1 km 

The swim is 1km (2.8km for relays) through the mouth of the Guadalquivir estuary. The exact route depends on the tides and currents of the day, but consists of a mixture of freshwater river water and saltwater from the Atlantic Ocean. In 2013, the swim leg had to be cancelled on the eve of the race because a young man unrelated to the race went missing. 

Run - 30 km 

The final section is a 30km beach run along virgin sands in the Doñana National Park. In this section athletes are on their own, and have to find a 'hard sand' path above the lapping waves of the beach and below the softer and the dry sand. Unlike the earlier sections, there are few spectators to cheer them on. Spectators are permtted however there is no private vechicle access into the park and they would have to walk the same course as the athletes. In the 2009 to 2011 editions the route was lineal and only, on leaving the T2 transition, and again about a kilometre before the finish line at Matalascañas beach in Huelva province, did the runners hear the sound of spectators cheering them on. The finish has a time limit of 8.30pm, allowing competitors to complete the triathlon in a maximum of 12 hours.

In the 2013 edition, due to the cancellation of the swimming section the run took place on the Sanlucar beach. Since 2014 run is still on the Doñana beach but in a 15km out and 15km back formation. This reduces any wind disadvantage, gives the families more oportunity to cheer the runners and is a lot less logistically complicated for the organiser having a finish line in Matalascañas which is 100km away by road. Since 2014 the finish line is on the beach (still on the Doñana side of the river ) near the second transition point. After the fininsh athletes can enjoy refreshments on the


In the early editions, 250  amateurs, 50 professionals and 50 teams of three athletes competed each year, with the number of athletes increasing since then. In 2016 there were 324 male athletes, 15 femail and 52 teams. In 2017 there were 240 male athletes and 10 female athletes. In 2018 there were 321 male athletes and 18 femail.

In 2016 the winning male time was 4 hours 17 minutes 36 seconds. In 2017 the winning male time was 4 hrs 30min 22 seconds (Emilio Martín) and the winning female time was 5 hrs 18min 53 seconds (Alba Reguillo). In 2018, the winning male time was 4 hrs 33 min 45 seconds (Emilio Martín) and the winning female time was 4 hrs 50 min 16 seconds (Yessica Pérez).

In the first editions, the categories were individual professional, individual amateur and relay teams of three athletes in male, female and mixed teams. In recent editions, the categories have been simplified: male, female and three-person relay teams in male, female and mixed teams. Some years there is also a mini-triathlon for juniors.

The closing ceremony and prize-giving will take place on Sunday morning in Sanlucar, followed by lunch and a party.

© Michelle Chaplow Inma Pereiro Gonzalez crossing the line in 1st place in the women's category
Inma Pereiro Gonzalez crossing the line in 1st place in the women's category 2011