Jove Riart and Sarah Merminod captured the first annual XTERRA Graveman on Saturday the 28th of July. This is a brand-new, long-distance XTERRA race in the heart of the Alps, where the challenge is against the race itself as well as against competitors and the clock. The course included a 1.9K swim, a 60K mountain bike ride, and a 20K run at high altitudes across technical trails. All 243 athletes who crossed the line on Saturday made history by completing this huge challenge.
At 8 am, athletes began a 1.9K swim in the St Guérin lake in the Province of Arèche-Beaufort situated at an altitude of 1500m. In the men’s race, Natanael Fruchart was the first to exit the clear but chilly 15-degree water and Isabelle Ferrer led the women race after the first discipline.
If the 60K of mountain biking and 2400m of ascent wasn’t tough enough, then the rain that had started to fall would make the course even more challenging. Embracing this challenge early on was Xavier Jové Riart who moved into a clear lead ahead of Figini, Betard and Samuel Jud who were riding close together, battling for second place.
For the women, Ferrer would hold onto her swim lead during the early stages of the bike before Hélène Pietrenko moved into the lead at the end of the first half. However Sarah Merminod would go onto ride stronger than both of them to take the lead during the final parts of the bike course.
Not content with the quickest bike split, Xavier Jové Riart went on to post the fastest run to finish with an 18-minute advantage over runner-up Samuel Jud. Christophe Betard completed the podium with third place. Riart demonstrated that this course suited a strong mountain biker who is happy to ride in challenging conditions. In similar fashion, Sarah Merminod managed to build a big enough lead to run to a comfortable win ahead of Ferrer. Hélène Pietrenko finished third.
Photo credits: Peignee Verticale