The second stop on the 2019 XTERRA European Tour takes us to Vouliagmeni on April 21 for the seventh annual XTERRA Greece off-road triathlon.
The seaside suburb of Athens, which served as the host city for the 2004 Olympic triathlon races won by Hamish Carter and Kate Allen, is a marvelous destination rich in history and archeological relics from ancient times such as the Acropolis, the temple of Olympian Zeus, and the Parthenon.
Competitors can expect tough climbs and challenging terrain, and to tell us more about the race we turn to 2018 XTERRA European Tour 15-19 division champion Paris Fellmann. The rising young star from Luxembourg amassed 432 points at seven races last year, including an age group win at XTERRA Greece last season.
“It’s only fitting that we ask Paris to share his experiences in Greece, given that his namesake was the famous prince who killed the great Achilles in Greek mythology,” joked Kostas Koumargialis, the marketing director for XTERRA Europe.
Interestingly, Paris is half-Greek and holds dual nationality.
“Vouliagmeni is a beautiful place with nice streets, great restaurants, and plenty of history to explore ahead of the race,” said Fellmann. “And the food here is incredible. It’s perfect for athletes with lots of high quality and locally grown vegetables and just the right amount of olive oil. You could say it is very Organicoach friendly. The ice cream on the other hand, maybe save that until after the race!”
“The swim course is one of my favorites on tour with its clear, blue, and completely flat water. It’s a two-lap swim in the bay and has a white sand beach to run on for the Australian exit at the halfway point. The water temperature will be around 18-20°C so you will need to bring your wetsuit.
Once you finish your 1500m swim, you cross the beach to the transition area and almost immediately you need to carry your bike down some stairs and through an underpass to get to the two-loop, 30km bike course. The loop begins with a short section on the road before a quick hike-a-bike section up some more stairs to reach the first fire road section. From there the course is made up of fire-roads and three short technical sections. Whilst every athlete will be able to ride these sections you need to be careful to control your speed and remain in control to avoid pinch flats on the sharp rocks. There are three significant climbs on the course, but overall it remains one of the fastest routes on the European Tour. I think it suites a powerful rider who can push hard for both loops.
After navigating the stairs a second time you’ll enter T2 to put your running shoes on for a 10km trail run. For me, the running part is the most difficult section of the race, but also the most fun.
You begin the run as you did on the bike, taking the stairs under the tunnel before a short section on the road. You then start the first steep uphill before a flat section where the first aid station is located. Make sure you do not miss this aid station, it is just before “the beast” - a very steep and rocky climb often sheltered from the wind and very hot. Once you reach the top be sure to look around as it offers the best view of the whole race.
There is a lot of variety on this run course with some flat sections, some rolling fire roads, and two very steep rocky climbs. It may be faster to alternate between running and walking so make sure you prepare your strategy before the race so you can save some energy on the steep climbs and run fast on the flat sections. After completing two loops you head back down the road, under the tunnel and into the finish arena. Once you cross the finish line you can enjoy the sunshine with some local souvlaki (meat stick!) on the grass at this beautiful race venue.”
Tom Dureux, Fellmann’s OrganiCoach, shared this training session with Paris to help him prepare for the changes in running speed needed for the XTERRA Greece course.
XTERRA GREECE RUN TRAINING SESSION
Warm up: 15 to 20-minutes easy running at around 70% of your MAX heart rate.
Main set: Find a flat area next to a moderately steep hill of 6-8% gradient.
3 x [4-minutes on the flat @ 80% of MAX HR)
30-seconds of squat exercises
2-minutes running uphill @ 90-95% of MAX HR (XTERRA race pace)
Take 5-minutes easy running back downhill for recovery
Warm down: 15-minutes easy running
Learn more at xterraplanet.com.
All-Time XTERRA Greece Elite Champions
|2013||Ben Allen||Helena Erbenova|
|2014||Francois Carloni||Kathrin Mueller|
|2015||Kris Coddens||Helena Erbenova|
|2016||Roger Serrano||Helena Erbenova|
|2017||Ruben Ruzafa||Helena Erbenova|
|2018||Arthur Forissier||Nicole Walters|