Great success under extreme weather conditions for the third SWISSMAN Xtreme Triathlon from the Brissago Islands to the Kleine Scheidegg where Rafael Wyss and Nina Brenn emerged as winners.
By Jörg Greb
After 3.8 km swimming, 180 km cycling and 42.2 km run with 5500 meters of elevation gain, 220 athletes reached the finish line on the Kleine Scheidegg at 2100 meters above sea level. The arrival was warm and emotional: The organizers waved cowbells, the audience applauded and after the first catch of breath the athletes shook hands with the OC president. The adventure led from the Brissago Islands to Ascona, over the passes Gotthard, Furka and Grimsel and on foot from Brienz to the Kleine Scheidegg.
The 33-year-old Rafael Wyss (Thalwil) won the event this year after crossing the finish line as second and third in 2013 and 2014. He was followed by last year’s winner Andreas Wolpert and the Norwegian Kjetil Dammen Hagtvedt. It took Rafael Wyss 12 hours and 38 minutes for the distance and his pursuers 6 and 9 minutes longer. Wolpert and Wyss fought a close duel. On the Furka, Wolpert was still leading, on the run Rafael Wyss could then extend his lead on Wolpert. « I paced myself a lot better and had to walk a lot less on the final run course, » the winner said comparing with its previous year’s performance. Andreas Wolpert summarized: « I am completely satisfied with my performance. »
With a final time of 14 hours and 17 minutes Nina Brenn (Flims) was the first woman to cross the finish line. Julia Nikolopoulos was second and Alexandra Hagspiel third. Nina Brenn spoke with great respect of » the current while swimming, rain and snow on the passes » and « wind, cold and also technically very demanding cycling conditions ». The 36-year-old Gigathlon serial champion said beaming: « That was a tough but impressive day ». Only ten men ended the day’s work before her.
Four seasons in a one-day race
The long day was marked by extreme weather conditions. Especially rain, snow, low temperatures and strong headwind on the bike made the triathlon a unique challenge and the day a real experience. The triathlon, together with the Norseman (in Norway) and Celtman (in Scotland) completes the series of Xtreme Triathlon. In all three events the focus lays on the experience of nature and the familiar character