Almere - long, long, long but oh, so good!

Almere - long, long, long but oh, so good!

By Paul Groves on 08/09/17 at 12:56 pm

This weekend sees the two ends of our triathlon racing spectrum. With those “going long” in Almere and the juniors racing the Sprint in Zagreb, it will be a busy and exciting weekend.
With the weather in northern Europe just beginning to hint at the autumn, Zagreb still has glorious weather.

So, let’s have a look and see what is on offer in Almere?

Firstly, this event is really the “Big Daddy”. Europe’s oldest long-distance race, having been held since 1983. Yes, 1983! That is a year before ETU was founded, when we were all much younger ….

Only one long-distance event in the world is older and we have all heard of Kona.

The race has been organised by Stichting Holland Triathlon for all those years but since 2013 has been working in partnership with Challenge Family and ETU has been delighted to support the delivery by hosting the European Championships there on a regular basis.

For Challenge Family it is simple;
“Challenge this! Swim 3,8km, Bike 180km, and Run 42,2km through the flat and open landscape of Almere-Amsterdam during the Challenge Long Distance Triathlon.
September 9th it’s on!
Did you know that, after Hawaii, Almere-Amsterdam is the oldest triathlon in the world?!
The European Triathlon Union and CHALLENGEFAMILY officially announced that the 2017 European Championship Long Distance Triathlon will be held during CHALLENGEALMERE-AMSTERDAM!
Furthermore, the CHALLENGEALMERE-AMSTERDAM Long Distance triathlon is the official Dutch Championship.”

Definitely not an easy race. The flat course leaves you nowhere to hide from any winds that might chase you around the course. No downhill sections to ease the legs. You just push the pedals, push and push and then out on the run, it is a relentless pounding on the pavement to take you to the noisy, exciting finish.

Looking at the Elite Women’s start list, we see the pre-race favourite, Yvonne van Vlerken. A legend in her own country and a global name in long-distance racing. With a debut 8:51:55 in Roth in 2007 and an impressive nine victories in 15 races this year, she is the one to beat. 8:58:28 on this course in 2007 but up against younger athletes.

From Germany comes a previous winner, Kathrin Walther. A good swim and bike last year in Poznan put her into a strong position but the run was where it ended. She will be back and hoping to secure that victory and European title. A winner here back in 2015, she is one to watch. With the defending European champion from Poland, Ewa Bugdoł absent, Eastern European fans will be pinning their hopes on Belarus athlete, Hanna Maksimava. 4th last year and with some races over the shorter distances this year, she has a good chance for a podium. From Portugal comes Vanessa Pereira. 6th in Weymouth and 6th in Poznan, can she break the barrier and get a top five this year?

13 Elite women, 7 nations and one very long course.

The Elite men last year gave us a great show, with Slovenia’s Denis Šketako just edging out Portugal’s Sergio Marques. Šketako is back to defend his title and Marques is back too. It would be nice to see the re-match but they face stiff opposition from a huge field of athletes. 35 Elite men from 16 nations is an impressive line-up.

Who might be the challengers to the ETU crown?

Well, the host nation is fielding a big team and amongst them is the bronze medal-winner from last year, Dirk Wijnalda. To his ETU bronze in 2016, he added the Dutch long course title and as this race is also the Dutch Championships, he will of course be aiming to secure that title once more. Watch out too for GB’s Joe Skipper. A silver last year in Roth on the back of some podium places at tough full-distance events makes him one to watch, especially if you have been to Bolton!

The Elite athletes are exciting to watch and we can all learn something from them; how to make the transition a bit quicker, how to focus on those long rides and runs but it is the Age group athletes that provide the real inspiration and who bring to our sport new blood.

Impressive as ever is the oldest category. This year we have athletes in the 70-74 category and with 4 nations represented, and 5 athletes battling against each other for the top three places, we see GB’s Richard File. File, 70 this year, won in Weymouth and then this year took the title in Soria and in Herning. Just to put things into perspective, his final 20k run in Herning was run in 1:59:15.

For the women, the oldest category (55-59) has Herning’s bronze medal-winner, Gerda Sollie racing with a home advantage. The Dutch crowds are sure to cheer her on.

Athletes from all over Europe will be racing the Almere-Amsterdam ETU Challenge Long Distance Triathlon European Championships and you can follow the race live here.

We have ETU Executive Board Member, Martin Breedijk, attending the race. He did a really impressive job in Lausanne, providing us with Tweets during the race. Once more he will be providing regular updates. Follow ETU on Twitter.

Click here for the full start lists.

Find out all you need about the race here
 

Find more details about this event - 2017 Almere-Amsterdam ETU Challenge Long Distance Triathlon European Championships