Since its first appearance, this event have attracted an increasing number of participants, both from Greece and abroad. The event's organizers were trying to promote the concept of 'sports tourism', so people could enjoy both the landscapes of Spetses and compete in one (or more) of their favorite events too! No better option to do this in Spetses, as the island has also a 'no cars' policy, which means that only small motorbikes are allowed, and of course bikes! :D
There were 2 options for Saturday: A 1000m swimming and a 25km (1 round of Spetses island) bike event. As cycling is my favorite sport, I decided to be a spectator for the swim event starting at 10 am. That was also a great way to mentally prepare myself for the 1pm start time of the bike event.
(Friday, 2 days before the triathlon event, familiarizing myself with the swim part, not particularly warm this year, but the water was absolutely great to watch inside and no wind around)
At 1pm it was the time for the 26km bike event around the island. The distance is not that long as you can see, but the terrain is full of turns and climbs, and the route is particularly technical as there are many sharp turns to watch around. Triathlon specific bikes (TT, etc) have no benefit in Spetses, you need a pure road bike with durable tires, to defend the average condition roads. The roads can surprise you, as the presence of dense forests around the island, do not allow you to view what's behind the next turn. So, take it easy if this is your first time at the start of the bike event!
The were around 200 athletes registered, and with the technical course in mind and the fact that the first 5km or so are rode inside the uneven village roads, it requires exceptional care, as crashes are easy to happen any time and out of nothing. So, better cycle safe first and then pick up your race pace when outside the main village.
The 26km long route meant that there was no time to pick up if you stay behind, but if you go too fast you might give too much too early on this demanding course. The terrain is very variable: Turn after turn, uphills following downhills all the time, very sudden turns behind narrow and limited visibility roads. Keep an eye on the road for small holes too (but nothing serious). All these together, make this 26km ride particularly tricky to complete if you haven't ridden the island before. For me, this was the 2nd time to be here, but believe me, this didn't help me much, it was still tricky to handle the bike under full speed!
This year, I have also seen several people with flats, and that was an extra concern to look for. Always ride Spetses with spare tubes, don't underestimate the short 26km distance! Ride the event with constant pace, don't give too much of your effort at the beginning as you might easily run out of reserves in the last closing kilometres. The climbs are short, but their steepness might surprise you, I am 100kg, and with my lowest 39x28 (crankset x cassette) combination, I felt I was riding marginal some on the climbs. And there were many of them! At the 13th km there is a water station waiting for you, in case you need to refuel!
(left: cooling off after the bike event)
Time for triathlon! This is perhaps the biggest triathlon event in Greece, so far. When you stand at the front of the mass start, you feel that you will be squeezed all around from other athletes. But, this is what makes this event so exciting too! The water is crystal clear, it's so amazing to swim the sea, and observe several kinds of fish swimming under your feet!
Temperatures are pretty good this time of the year (end of April). Except for a wetsuit during the swim part, a t-shirt and a short it enough to keep you in comfort during the race.
(left: The mascot of Spetses! This dog is 4 months old and it absolutely rocks!)
There were two distances for triathlon, a sprint (750m-26km-5km) and an endurance (1500m-52km-10km). Most athletes go for the sprint, there were around 280 of them this year. The endurance is pretty demanding, especially the bike course, and around 70 of them made this up this year.
All in all, this was a very enjoyable event. The Saturday night pasta-party and the express registration made the event extra special. Media from radio and TV, plus drone-video cameras flying in the sky make you feel that you're a 'sport's celebrity' and it gives you that extra motivation to push hard during the event. The spectators are all around, especially in the run part. You run in front of the full seated coffee areas and you get the pulse of this event at maximum level!
An event to put down in the triathlon/bike calendar as a must!
(used to race with a triathlon jersey, but now I feel more comfy on short sleeve)
(Spetsathlon events, is all about having fun and enjoying the amazing landscape)
(at the end of the triathlon race, my bike did it all!)
The official Spetsathlon website: www.spetsathlon.com
Spetsathlon results: http://spetsathlon.com/en/the-race/2015-results/
Photos and videos of the event:
i) http://spetsathlon.com/multimedia-year/2015/ and