If there is one word that can describe this event that would be 'magnificent'!
Epidavrus is an ancient historic region located on the east side of Pelloponissus. It was the first time that a major bike and triathlon sports event took place there. Not for one day, but for two. Saturday found athletes with 2 road bike events (35km and 70km), while for Sunday, a sprint Triathlon event (750m-30km-5km) was scheduled both for adults and kids. 400 athletes registered throughout the weekend for these events, which is a large number for the Greek athletic community.
The organizers, municipality of Epidavrus and Smart Solutions Company, did a perfect job with nearly 200 (!) volunteers laid down on the race course to support and secure the event during the weekend. The landscape during the races was just top class - no better place to compete and enjoy a race.
(prior to the start of the Saturday's road bike race)
Saturday road bike race was all about pacing and staying organized within a group. There were about 20km or so of climbing and the remaining (15km) was flat, downhill style. I never cycled in the area before, so I wasn't familiar with what could appear in front of me. After the 11th km ,the organisers gave the 'free to go', that is, until then, riders must stay behind a leading vehicle for security reasons. That was good for me, as I had the chance to identify a group which was close to my pace.
But, I realised that wasn't the case really...after the 15th km I noticed that I wasn't attached with any group whatsoever..! That was a problem, as riding with a group helps you share tiredness and do significantly less work than usual. I knew that I have left behind me several riders after the 11th km and I was pedalling with good speed, but I was not so sure how my fatigue levels would built up at a later stage (the 35km groups had different route from the 70km groups). I settled down with the idea that enjoying and cycling was all the best I could do for the completion of this race.
(on the 11th km of the road bike race with the 'free to go' signal)
The state of the terrain was excellent (for the Greek standards!), and I was retaining my good speed. I managed to catch a triathlon bike on the 20th km, which was a good thing, as I felt I could make a 'cooperative pair' with someone else. But, this didn't last for very long, as the other rider 'broke' on the 25th km or so.. So, riding alone again was the result. I was pushing as much as I could all the way up to the Ancient Theatre, and luckily some sections of the road were downhill to give me a short breath meanwhile.
I hadn't loose any positions at that stage. As I was getting closer and closer to the finish point, my instinct was telling me that I was perhaps within good positions.
I crossed the finish line 7th overall (out of 60) and 4th in my category (30+), without realizing it! I thought there was something wrong with the results, but I was indeed top 5 on my division: Medal time!! (top 6 get medals). That was ecstatic!! How come those lighter riders didn't catch me on the climbs? I am 100kg and there was no way I could keep my speed with tiny athletes on the mountains, but it did happen! Perhaps, bigger means stronger too :D
(my explanation: On mild climbs I believe that a strong and big rider can stay close to a small rider, despite the weight difference. The small and compact climbers seem to have an clear advantage on really steep climbs - fortunately Epidavrus bike course had a moderate steepness, so this allowed me to stay away from the lightest riders).
(me on the blue jersey, crossing the finish line of the 35km bike race top 7 overall ,what a moment!)
Sunday morning found me with more excitement. Weather was perfect for me, 20 degrees or less, with full sun: I love 'cooler' temperatures, and this triathlon race had just the ideal conditions to start. I hadn't trained for swimming or running at all (feel a bit bored recently with these :) ), but I was in for the bike section. Durin the bike section I managed to overtake at least 12 people, but running is always a damaging factor in all my triathlon races: I exited T2 on the 15th place and I crossed the finish line on the 28th place.. :(
Throughout the races, people were cheering us all around. Even when I reached a remote cross point up the in mountain, there were still people out on the roads encouraging us. What a scene!
Organizers, gave away a nice t-shirt to all athletes and they were providing unlimited(!) free orange juice to everyone (orange trees were plenty in the region), plus the necessities on the hydration points. Competitors had also discounted (up to 20%) access to restaurants and food-bars For a zero participation fee, that was just the perfect event to be at.
This event made me realise that cycling fits me exceptionally well, more than triathlon, as the power factor and less the weight factor come into play. Riding on a bike allows you to slide your weight on the road with the bike, while, for example, running is all about carrying your weight with light weight athletes having an obvious plus step on this.
Thank you Epidavrus!!
View full results for all races (bike and triathlon).
View photos from the road bike event.
(more photos and videos to appear shortly on the organizer's website)
Check my photoalbum on the link below :)
(more to appear soon!)