You're not going to PR at the Lion Heart Triathlon in Bulgaria. The course consists of 3km swimming in the Black Sea, 119km or cycling on a course that's one-fourth pavement and three-quarters gravel and other offroad. Then, 21km of trail running.
"The location was not chosen randomly," said Mr. Dimitrov. "Primorsko [the town where the race is staged] and Strandja mountain are home of an astonishing nature and keep a spectacular cultural heritage."
Indeed, Bulgaria is the home of what might be the greatest biodiversity in Europe.
"In Ropotamo Reserve," continued Mr. Dimitrov, during the trail run segment, "there is a sacred place called the Lion Head. It is a megalithic sanctuary from the ancient Thracian city of Ranuli and our inspiration."
The bike course is bumpy, so a suspension fork is highly recommended. Last year's winner was riding Scott Scale 910 with Rock Shox RS1 90mm and covered the bike route in just over 4 hours. Maybe a Cannondale Slate is the perfect bike for this?
Notwithstanding the need for a "good fork" local Bulgarian competitor Krastin Dimitrov sent me a picture of a bike and told me that with this bike, "I am sure you will be flying on the course." I opened the image and it was a gravel bike made by Open (Gerard Vroomen's company).
The exact location start and finish is on the north end of a beach called Perla. Primorsko is small town that caters to tourists, and there are "plenty of options to accommodate," from 5-Star hotels to small family hotels. The prices are reasonable and staff speaks English almost everywhere.
The race organization says it will tender "special offers for foreigners," when they register. Last year the race hosted two athletes from Germany, one from France and two from Russia. This year they expect an influx from the Balkans: Romania, Greece, Serbia and Croatia.
"The region around Primorsko is amazing," Mr. Dimitrov told me. "There are clean beaches, ancient forest and nice people to meet. The food is also great."
Most Bulgarians between the ages of 18 and 40 speak pretty good English, and are helpful by nature.
Since publishing our photo gallery of racing in Greece, I've gotten an influx of reachouts from the Balkans. "Hey, what about our race?!" The Lion Heart is the first of these, and more are coming.