Grant Norris, Events Manager reports;
We arrived in the region of the Aragonese Pyrenees after our 300km drive from Barcelona and boy was it hot, I mean really, really hot! The first thing I thought as I stepped out of the car at the race venue was , how on earth could you even jog in this heat let alone finish a race that has a distance akin to a half Ironman and on some of the toughest and steepest terrain in Europe. The second thing I thought was Wow, this place is absolutely beautiful!
The organisers had picked the venue carefully and we were promised a closed road Triathlon that will become an iconic, 'must do' event in years to come. If based on the scenery and the quality of lake for the swim leg alone, I can say they are 100% correct in their bold ambition. They have also made this a toughie , an above average challenge and a bit of a different experience due to the terrain that the bike and run routes encounter.
Saturday was all about the briefing, the athletes meeting up and registering and putting their bikes on the racking ready for a 7am start.
Sunday came way too quickly and we were on a 5am start. In the night there had been a massive thunderstorm that had moved slowly over our hotel which was a good 30km from the event. As we drove up and over the mountains to get there, the road was steaming from the heat that had been held overnight, apparently it hadn’t rained for in the region for the past few months. The storm had also stripped the trees and bushes of all their dead foliage and it was strewn over the road along with rubble that had been displaced from the mountains passes, the bike leg was sure to be even more challenging now.
As we arrived still in the dark the heavens opened and hail the size of marbles descended on top of the marquee. Rumours that the event was going to be cancelled were floating around and the organisers were huddled in deep discussions as what, if any actions should be taken.
The decision was made – the swim leg was cancelled, it was just too risky with the lightning. The new distances were also changed with a 4.5 k run followed by a 71k ride across two mountain passes, one of which was a 12% ascent gradient and finally a 18k run to finish. Some of the athletes were disappointed but none the less they lined up ready to go 1 hour late, by which stage the storm was well and truly over.
The race lasted 3hrs.45 for the top men/4hrs.42 for the top woman and a few hours more for the slower racers. Everyone had a fantastic time and at the end of this testing event; smiles were the order of the day.
My abiding memory of this event will be that some of the 'Dad and Mum' athletes as they entered the finish area taking time to stop and pick up their kids to run the last 30 meters together. With the noise from the crowd that were present, this was a indeed a great end to the race.
I can’t wait to return next year when the route will be changed slightly and the run will be through the local town. Many of the athletes I spoke with were amazed with the quality of the race, vowing to return next year once again. My guess is that the organiser’s prophecy on the success of the event over the next few years, will indeed come to fruition!
Watch this space!