Over 400 athletes from mostly Europe gathered socially distanced in Silvaplana, Switzerland to participate in one of the first bigger events since COVID19 hit the world. These 400 athletes were spread out over several events with two shorter races happening on Saturday and the main World Series race taking place on Sunday. 103 teams had been registered for that World Series event but only 78 teams came to the start. Among them several professional triathletes who may have jumped into this event with not much else going on yet, and among them were Antony Costes and Jan Van Berkel. The ÖtillÖ organization had laid out a new COVID19 Safety Management Plan to make this event happen and along those lines masked and gloved volunteers and hand sanitizer were seen all over the course. Plus social distancing was pushed hard too. In general though in this sport on such challenging terrain the athletes get spread out quickly.
Usually athletes have to bring their own reusable cups and soft flasks to grab hydration at the aid stations, something put in place a few years ago to help the environment. But this time disposable cups were pre-filled with hydration for sanitary reasons. The weather played along nicely and the course of 40km of running and 6km of swimming proved to be challenging for all.
Volunteers with masks and gloves look on as Sabina Rapelli grabs a cup from the aid station. Rapelli and her partner Alexis Charrier who are typically a very strong mixed team ended up not finishing the race.
The first swim of the race in Lej Cavloc at 1900 meters of elvation is the coldest swim of the day with temps typically in the high 40s during this time. But after running uphill before and a difficult uphill charge right after this swim it actually is not as bad as it may sound.
Teams typically spread out pretty fast on this very challenging course. And the upcoming section here is rather tricky.
Here Antony Costes and Thomas Navarro of team Les DT Suisse chased fellow triathletes Pierre Massonneau and Fabien Besancon of team Argon 18 up this section. In the end however the placements were reversed.
The mixed team of Martin Flinta and Johanna Edman of team Thule Crew were in the running all day but had to settle for second place in the mixed division at the end.
Swiss Pro triathletes Jan Van Berkel and Samuel Huerzeler adapted reasonably well to this sport and they ended up in 7th place in the the male division, and 8th place overall.
Victor Dahl and Desirée Andersson of Team Envol looking comfortable in first place of the mixed division, and in the end with a time of 5:37:53 in 5th place overall and 10 minutes ahead of the next mixed team who finished 9th overall in 5:47:19.
Athletes encounter a variety of terrain as they race through the Engadin valley. Here Swiss Bastiaan Breine and Belgian Gertjan Winten push up a cobbled climb on the way to 6th place in the male division.
The leading female team of Ulrika Eriksson and Hanna Skårbratt of team ARK Swimrun also looked comfortable and they held on to that lead from start to finish. Their winning time of 5:48:36 meant 10th place overall.
The French pro triathlon team of Antony Costes and Thomas Navarro had the leading team within reach all day but in the end fell 2.5 minutes shot of taking the title.
Even the cows on the Swiss meadows were socially distanced, but curious about the neoprene clad competitors running past them.
The views athletes experience on the course are breathtaking.
The place might look inviting to take a quick break and enjoy coffee and pastries, but there was no time for such delights.
Remi Mariette and Guillaume Henneman of team Gravelines Triathlon on the way to the title and their time of 5:21:56 was the best of the day.
Alexander Berggren and Peter Oom of Team Garmin grabbed 4th place overall and were about 3 minutes away from the podium in the end.
There is so much beautiful nature to experience here that it is well worth to come here another time to take it all in at a more mellow pace, and with more time.
Pushing up one of many climbs on the ÖtillÖ Engadin course
This type of racing pretty much guarantees social distancing.
The winning mixed team clearly enjoyed that victory.
Top 5 Male Teams
1. Remi Mariette (FRA) & Guillaume Henneman (FRA / Team Gravelines Triathlon) 5:21:56
2. Antony Costes and Thomas Navarro (FRA / Les DT Suisse) 5:24:18
3. Pierre Massonneau and Fabien Besancon (FRA / Team Argon18) 5:32:43
4. Alexander Berggren and Peter oom (SWE / Team Garmin) 5:35:34
5. David Pasquet and Benjamin Dupain (FRA / Team Surpise) 5:40:25
Top 5 Mixed Teams
1. Victor Dahl and Desirée Andersson (SWE /Team Envol) 5:37:53
2. Martin Flinta and Johanna Edman (SWE / Team Thule Crew) 5:47:19
3. Montse Martinez Guerrero and Eduard Barcelo (AND / Team Envol Andorra) 5:58:38
4. Pierre Auger and Marie Tombelaine (FRA / Pop's Team) 6:15:19
5. Angèle Duhem and Pierre Louis Sénéchal (FRA / TC Weppes) 6:35:41
Top 5 Female Teams
1. Ulrika Eriksson and Hanna Skårbratt (SWE / Team ARK Swimrun) 5:48:36
2. Alexia Bailly and Eugenie Plane (FRA / Team Altrisquad) 5:58:59
3. Annika Eriksson and Kristin Larson (SWE / Team ARK Swimrun) 6:03:53
4. Jenny Ramstedt and Diane Sadik (SWE /HEAD Swimming ) 6:31:45
5. Paulina Sjöholm and Frida Hedman (SWE / Nitroglycerin) 6:49:10
Images 1, 3, 5, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 18, 19 © @akuna_life / ÖtillÖ Engadin
Images 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 14, 17 © Madlaina Walther / ÖtillÖ Engadin