The fifth edition of the SWISSMAN Xtreme Triathlon has taken place under ideal weather conditions. The 241 athletes from 33 nations took on the 226 kilometers and the total elevation of 5500 meters on Saturday, June 24. The competition was dominated by two Swiss athletes. Alain Friedrich from Lucerne and Tabea Ruegge from Uettlingen were coping best with the challenging race course and emerged as clear winners of this year’s SWISSMAN Xtreme Triathlon.
As in previous years, the SWISSMAN Xtreme Triathlon enjoyed great popularity in 2017: Out of about 1000 applicants, 250 have been drawn to compete. As always, half of the starting places went to Swiss athletes, the other half to athletes from all over the world. this year, people from a total of 34 nations took part in the competition.
At 5.00 on Saturday morning, the cow bells signalled the starting gun of the SWISSMAN 2017. Under a bright blue sky, the 241 athletes started out their day with a 3.8 km swim from the Island of Brissago to Ascona. From there, they took on the 180 km bike course crossing the three alpine passes Gotthard, Furka and Grimsel. The third and last change of discipline followed in Brienz. The 42.2 km run led the athletes along Lake Brienz past Interlaken and Grindelwald all the way up to Kleine Scheidegg on 2061 m.a.s. Crossing the finish line, every athlete has accomplished a total elevation of 5500 meters.
The fastest swimmer took a little bit over an hour to get from Brissago to Ascona: Alain Friederich dominated the race from the start to the end. He expanded his lead to 52 minutes until crossing the finish line. Looking back on the day he said: «I had the constant feeling of beeing chased», despite his excellent lead. It took Friedrich a total of 11 hours and 57 minutes for the entire course. It was the ideal time and race regarding his participation in Hawaii this year, he said.
The second place was fiercely contested: Swiss athlete Gabriel Hopf from Bellmund (BE) caught up with the Norwegian Trond Atle Smedsrud and finally passed him on the 180 km long bike course. With a total time of 12 hours and 39 minutes, Hopf eventually finished 5 minutes ahead of Smedsrud.
With a total time of 14 hours and 20 minutes, Tabea Ruegge from Uettlingen (BE) was the first woman to cross the finishing line at Kleine Scheidegg. After only 14 minutes, she was followed by Norwegian Julie Flakne Andresen. Cornelia Käser, a local athlete from Fruttigen (BE), was the third woman finishing SWISSMAN Xtreme Triathlon 2017.
The weather surely was on the athlethe’s side this year. But due to several accidents on the Grimselpass the bike course had to be rerouted. SWISSMAN athletes were not involved.