Inside the 2018 SWISSMAN Xtreme Triathlon

The SWISSMAN Xtreme Triathlon was inspired by the legendary Norseman Xtreme Triathlon in Norway, and it is a point to point long course event. After a cool and refreshing 3.8km swim in Lago Maggiore athletes tackle three mountain passes and encounter stunning vistas on their bikes. The race then has another majestic climb at the end of the run and the total elevation gain is 5,500 meters (18,044 feet). 239 athletes started this challenging race and 213 reached the finish.

The air temperatures ranged from 5-25 degrees Celsius (41-77F) and the water temp was 20 degrees Celsius (68F). But here here now are pics from the 2018 event.

The first big climb the athletes get to conquer is the Gotthard Pass, and that is a very popular cycling climb. Pros and amateurs alike come here to get in shape and test their mettle.

Much earlier that day athletes got on a ferry in Ascona that took them to the start in Brissago for the 5am start.

The sun is slowly rising as the athletes push towards Ascona where T1 and awaits.

With the swim now over it is now time to focus on the hard and beautiful bike effort. But first a push through the mass of volunteers and spectators.

There are indeed some flat sections too, but most of it is either up or down.

Christian Rutschmann from Switzerland was the first athlete to hit the historical cobblestone road up to the Gotthard pass and he had opted for a BMC road bike with clip on bars and mid sized carbon wheels, and in the end he was second.

Polish athlete Michal Rajca was not far behind and he had shallower wheels on his Fuji triathlon bike.

This section is difficult as most athletes will likely attest. Gabriel Hopf from Switzerland shown here on the way to third place.

Will this never end? But with that view maybe it should not.

The female champion to be Flora Colledge from UK on her way up the Gotthard Pass with no one else in sight.

There was still snow on the Furka Pass - the second big climb for the athletes.

The Giessbach waterfalls are the first highlight of the run course but there is still a long way to go.

This is simply beautiful.

After 32km of the run the athletes arrive at the check-point in Grindelwald before climbing up the Kleine Scheidegg. The elevation here is 1000 meters (3,280 feet) and from there the last 10km go up to 2061 meters (6,761 feet).

Athletes are required to bring a support person along on this final climb of the race. That is also true for Norseman and other XTri World Tour events.

An athlete and his support person on that last climb to Kleine Scheidegg. Clearly there is an easier way to get all the way to the top, the train however brings the athletes back down.

The new Swissman Champion Michal Rajca from Poland broke the course record by 9 minutes and a total time of 11:23.

Brit Flora Colledge crushed the course and the competition and at the end she was more than an hour ahead of the runner-up Jacqueline Schmid of Switzerland.

Norwegian Lorentz Erland Linde may not have left it all out on the course, or possibly found a bit more with the finish so close.

Yup, that is what a challenging long course race looks like. Sign up already.

All image identified as © Buchli Fotografie are by Sam Buchli, all others without a watermark are © Sampo Lenzi