BlackLake Xtreme Triathlon Images

Originally entrants from 20 countries had signed up for this beautiful and challenging venue in Montenegro, but with COVID-19 still looming large this race took place on a very small scale. Only 14 men and 1 woman started the race,a but with so many races cancelled this year and social distancing still important, this was maybe the best way to go: an actual race but folks widely spread out, and simply not enough folks to bunch up anywhere. The only physical contact folks really had was with their support crew during the race, and a volunteer at the swim exit.

The water temperature was about 17c (62.5F) and the air temperature ranged from 9c (48F) in the morning to 21c (69.8F) during the day.

French athlete Quentin Grieu finding his way on the beautiful and challenging trails of Savin Kuk. In the end he finished in 9th place.

The race started at 4:30am and thus it was pretty dark for the swim. Athletes actually had to negotiate 2 lakes during the swim segment before they could get on their bikes.

Out of the water and back on the land briefly. Between the 2 lakes, a volunteer assists athlete out of the water of Small Lake to cross the land bridge before getting into BlackLake.

The weather did cooperate with the race all day and beautiful sunshine accompanied the athletes on their 182k bike journey. But the course profile with 3200 meters (10,500 feet) of elevation gain was no joke.

There were many narrow mountainous climbs to negotiate but with such views who would not want that opportunity?

Up and up and no other athlete in sight.

Italian Michele Petrone on the way to second place.

Folks who have watched Treasure in Silver Lake and any of the Winnetou movies might find that this terrain looks familiar. Many of the Karl May based films were indeed shot in that region. But Marko Butulija has other things on his mind - likely a black t-shirt.

The running course of the Black Lake Xtreme Triathlon had 1,500 meters (4,921 feet) of elevation gain and plenty of tricky section crossing the Savin Kuk.

With determined steps towards the finish.

Damian Faulkner from Ireland spent 9:01:12 on the run course and in the end that meant 7th place and a black t-shirt.

Croatian Dino Belakuši with a support runner in tow on the way to third place in 15:57:17.

With views like this maybe next year this venue will see many more applicants and starters.

With a white Norseman shirt on the way to hopefully a black Black Lake Xreme Tri shirt, but first a rest.

The only female starter Dragana Tabakovi from Serbia pulled out 150km into the bike segment. Initially 5 women had signed up to do the race, and that is an issue much on the mind of the XTRI tour organizers.

"We understand that it's still difficult to get female athletes to do XTRI but in the last 8 years we have increased applicants from 4% to 17% on average and this year our XTRI Magazine will be entitled The Women of XTRI with stories from every angle; organizers, safety, athletes, crew etc to really try an encourage an increase," said Stuart McInnes, the CEO of the Xtri World Tour AS.

Results:

1. Guillaume Boisgontier (FRA) 13:42:48
2. Michele Petrone (ITA) 14:21:11
3. Dino Belakuši? (CRO) 15:57:17
4. Dmytro Sharov (UKR) 16:05:12
5. Marko Butulija (MON) 17:27:29
6. Filip Zok (POL) 18:21:35
7. Damian Faulkner (IRE) 18:31:58
8. János Pepó (HUN)18:31:58
9. Quentin Grieu (FRA) 18:48:29
10. Massimo Xodo (ITA) 18:48:47

All these great images © Kai-Otto Melau