Inspiring 2019 Celtman Extreme Triathlon images

Determined athletes from all over the world swam 3.4 km in the cold Loch Shieldaig, rode 202 km on gritty Highland roads and then tackled very hilly hilly 42 km of running. The water temperature was around 11 degrees Celsius (52 F) and the air temperature had an average of 18 degrees Celsius (64 F) according to race officials. But early in the day the air temperature was only 12 degrees C (54 F).

250 athletes were registered, but only 205 started the event. When was all said and done, only 166 athletes finished.

"That is a lot of DNFs," said race director Stuart McInnes. "We are seeing many new athletes to Xtri, which is good, but maybe they don't yet appreciate that it is an incredibly tough experience."

And we thankfully have beautiful images via Kai-Otto Melau.

Athletes have many choices of events these days. Many are lured by PR worthy courses, but some athletes opt for unique adventures and challenges, and the Celtman Extreme Scottish Triathlon certainly delivers along those lines. The views are stunning and ideally a fear of heights is not a factor.

Before the start of the 2019 Celtman there was a moment of silence to remember Chris Sterling - the 2017 champion who passed away 2 months ago.

A little bit of stretching before getting into the cold waters of Loch Shieldaig. Pink swim caps for all in this race to be easily seen by the support crews.

When it is time to go finally there are certainly different ideas about urgency and early pacing, but it is a long day and haste makes waste.

Many helping hands welcome athletes back to dry ground after the 3.4km swim.

The cold temperatures of the water can still be seen on the faces of the athletes who emerged from it, and the air temperature was also on the cooler side.

Athletes who want to avoid massive draft packs certainly are rewarded along those lines in a race like Celtman, Norseman, Alaskaman, Swissman etc.

Angry clouds rolled in but the athletes stayed on task and pushed along on the 202 km long course. There are no major mountains to conquer but there is still 2,000 meters (6,561 feet) of elevation gain.

Bike repairs while on course are always a bummer, but when the athlete and the crew are calm it is not such a big deal. Plus it is a very long day, so much can happen.

Andy Ferguson of Scotland is bundled up and cruising along, but in the end he did not finish Celtman.

David Kinnair of team Ironkoukou on the way to 52nd lace in a time of 16:28:04

On some more challenging running courses trekking poles prove to be helpful, but it is a technique that requires practice. Jennie McColl from the Aberdeen Wheelers finished 65th overall in a time of 17:01:20.

Full focus on the tricky terrain is also a good thing, but there is so much to see and appreciate.

Up high on one of two Munros that have to be tackled and on sections like this not all athletes move with similar ease. Technical trail experience helps, but some folks are just better at it.

Local musical entertainment high up on the Munro.

Clouds started to roll in, and most athletes on this run course were wearing hydration vests.

What goes up must come down and descending tricky technical terrain often proves more difficult than folks imagine.

With bravado and camera in hand back down and towards the finish of the race.

Results 2019 Celtman Extreme Triathlon
Wester Ross, Scotland / June 15, 2019

Top 3 men

1. Johan Hasselmark (SWE) 11:52:05
2. Francesco Mirando (ITA) 12:38:49
3. Graeme Stewart (SCO) 12:41:50

Top 3 women

1. Rebecca Hoare (UK) 14:30:52
2. Rachel Hunt (UK) 14:42:50
3. Magdalena Trumstedt (SWE) 15:10:28

All images © Kai- Otto Melau / Celtman Xtri