“First stop” in the 2012 world cycling events: The Santos Tour Down Under

The annual Santos Tour Down Under, the same race where Lance Armstrong made his comeback, will take place January 15-22, 2012, in Adelaide, Australia. The bike race, which is more than just your average cycling event, is actually the “first stop” on the UCI World Tour, which brings together the world’s most challenging road races.

There are about 500 miles total and 6 stages in the race, each offering a unique landscape for riders. During Stage 1, riders will cycle through the vineyards of the Barossa and into Clare Valley, while Stage 2 journeys through the winding hillside of Adelaide. Stage 3 brings participants to the Fleurieu Peninsula and through the seaside town of Victoria Harbor, with stage 4 traversing through the heart of wine country. This year, Stage 5 brings a new element, as riders will ascend Old Willunga Hill, the most challenging obstacle of the race. And finally, Stage 6 ends the event with a circuit race around Elder Park on the banks of the River Torrens.

Not a professional rider but still want to experience the fun? Participate in The Bupa Challenge Tour, which allows attendees to ride shorter versions of the main race a few hours before the WorldTour professionals as well Ride for a Reason and support Cancer Council SA. You can also experience the race as a bystander with a unique point of view, from a helicopter.

For a taste of what to expect, check out the Santos Tour Down Under promotional video above.

Photo of the day – Intha leg rowers boat race in Burma

What do you see in the photo above? Men walking awkwardly on stilts or a bridge gone horribly wrong? They’re actually competing in a boat race in Myanmar using the traditional Intha leg-rowing technique. The Intha people developed this unusual style of rowing in order to navigate around the many reeds and plants in the lake that they may not see rowing from a seated position. In this race, each boat holds 30 men balancing on a horizontal railing in the middle of the boat, using the other leg to row. Thanks to Flickr user Mark Fischer for a great shot with an interesting story.

Have you captured any unique sporting events on your travels? Add them to the Gadling group on Flickr and we might just pick one of yours as a future Photo of the Day.

Marathons and Triathalons: Don Some Running Shoes and Hit the Road

One of my all time running highlights was winning second place for my age category in a 4th of July run in Middletown, Ohio. I ran almost a minute faster a mile than I normally did. (And yes, there were more than two people in my category.) When the first mile came and the time-keeper called out the time, I almost turned back to ask, “What did you say?” Instead, I ran like heck to the next mile marker for a confirmation. I was on fire. I think it had to do with: living in Albuquerque at the time, running a lot with a guy I was dating who taught me some running tips, and buzzing a bit from the two days drive to get to Middletown. Besides the fun of doing so well, being a part of a community event pulled me right into the milieu of Middletown. Man, was it glorious.

If you’re a running type, here are some running events listed on the Web site Active.com to consider when thinking about where to travel for your running highs. My run in Middletown was impromptu. I didn’t know the run existed until I showed up at my friend’s friends’ house. This list goes through March 2008.

On the International Scene

Tri Escape to Bermuda Triathlon: 10/21/07 –St. George’s, Bermuda
Run 22nd Venice Marathon: 10/28/07—Venice, Italy
Run adidas Dublin Marathon: 10/29/07 –Dublin, Ireland
Run Puerto Vallarta International Half Marathon & 5K 2007: 11/4/07–Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Run Brooks Brighton 10k: 11/18/07 –Brighton and Hove, UK – England
Run Firenze Marathon: 11/25/07 –Florence, Italy
Tri Island Triathlon Series™ Turks & Caicos: 12/1/07 –Grace Bay, Providenciales, TCA
Run Reggae Marathon & Half-Marathon: 12/1/07– Long Bay Beach Park, Jamaica
Run Lisbon Marathon: 12/2/07– Lisbon, Portugal
Run Milano City Marathon 2007: 12/2/07 –Milan, Italy
Run The Santa Dash: 12/2/07 –Liverpool, UK – England
Run Cabo Half Marathon 2008: 1/19/08 –Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Run Porto Santo Marathon- Madeira Islands: 3/1/08 –Madeira, Portugal
Run Monaco Marathon: 3/30/08 –Monaco, Monaco

In the United States

Tri EnduraSport Half Triathlon: 11/10/07– Freeport, Bahamas, BHS
Run The Las Vegas Marathon & Half Marathon: 12/2/07 –Las Vegas, NV
Run Honolulu Marathon: 12/9/07 –Honolulu, HI
Run Walt Disney World Half Marathon: 1/12/08 –Lake Buena Vista, FL
Run Walt Disney World Marathon:1/13/08 –Lake Buena Vista, FL
Run P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona: 1/13/08 –Phoenix, AZ
Run Carlsbad Marathon & Half Marathon: 1/20/08 –Carlsbad, CA
Run ING Miami Marathon and Half Marathon: 1/27/08 –Miami, FL
Run Surf City USA® Marathon & Half Marathon (formerly Pacific Shoreline Marathon): 2/3/08 –Huntington Beach, CA
Run Los Angeles Marathon: 3/2/08– Los Angeles, CA