Xterra Italy/Lago di Scanno

Definitely my favorite race in Europe

My 5th time at this epic place, its so beautiful and magical in the mountains of central Italy called Abruzzo. The old town of Scanno has its own flair, the big mountain behind it is brutal on the uphill and epic on the downhill, and the lake down the road is a blue cristal clear water with the perfect temperature for the daily open water swim or just to relax on the side in the sun for your daily lunch nap.

We traveled down from France and arrived there more than half a week before the competition. On our way there we stopped at two spots, the very known bike paradise in Alpe´d Huez/France and the little sea village called Moneglia/Italy where we spent some time for good training.

As we are traveling around Europe with my custom built Volkswagen van, we were camping at the campsite Ilupi close to the lake. It is the perfect spot for the daily training as well as for some relaxing time in between. Its calm and cosy, nice to stay at.

The race start was again a water start, the PRO field lined up between two buoys, the age group athletes started 5 minutes afterwards into the race. This time it was only one big loop of 1,5km with a little running section close to the swim exit.

Out of the swim it was about 100m to the transition area, enough time to pull down the wetsuit and get the legs shaked out for the bike. I changed quickly and jumped onto my bike. The course had a little pushing passage underneath the main road, then some stairs uphill before you actually reach the old town of Scanno. Some awesome downhill stair sections, switchbacks and gates are part of the course through the town. Behind that we had to follow a single trail to the back of the mountain, where the actual uphill starts. It goes all the way up to the top of the skiing slope, just to the start of the downhill section. Singletrails, some jumps and steep downhills are part of the amazing way down.

Back in transition I switched into my running shoes for the 10km trail run- again into the city. The steepest uphill I ever saw is also included into this course. It is almost impossible to actually run it, so a walk-push knees kind of movement helps here best.

I finished 12th this time, it was not that kind of result I was hoping for, but at least I had lots of fun racing again. Scanno will always be special for me, and I am sure to come back here again.

Xterra France

Back in France. This race is epic. I love it.

We got to race in Xonrupt in 2017 and it was awesome. The bike course is long, technical and awesome. It suits me really good and I was looking forward to race here again after my first time two years ago. The swim is in the beautiful lake which is mostly nice to swim in- without wetsuit. The finishing run is not really special or exciting, but its still a solid trail run. What the Frenchies are really crazy about are some steep wooden turns and bridges, jumps and pump tracks in the start and finish area, which we had to ride twice on the bike and run twice on the run.

Credits: Xterra

So we rented a little house close to the venue and stayed there with 6 other friends and Xterra athletes from Great Britain, Germany, Denmark and Portugal. The mood was great, I always had a partner to go and train with, checkout the course of just spin out the legs.

My preparation for the race went pretty well, I felt good, very rested. I didn’t really know what to expect due to my 4 weeks off training just before the race, but I was exciting to put it all out on the course.

Credits: Xterra

The start of the race was a bit late on the day- only in the afternoon, which was nice to heat up the lake with the midday sun. This Xterra is the biggest in Europe, and the transition area is probably twice as big as normally. I got a good spot and set everything up perfectly- my Mountainbike was ready to go, and also my Salming OT Comp was waiting for a fast run.

Credits: Xterra

The swim start was from in the water because there is no smooth transition between the beach and the lake. We had to wait for a bit in the water before the starting horn blasted. I didn’t feel really fast on the swim, so it was always very crowded around me- especially until the first buoy. I found my pace and could swim a solid split.

Credits: Xterra

Onto my bike I didn’t feel comfortable, but I just thought it was of the training break. My excitement was still high. I overtook a bunch of athletes until the hammer hit me hard. My nutrition was perfectly planned and also the hydration was good, my body was just not ready for racing again. With a lot of pain in my legs and also arms I made it back to T2 where I changed into my running shoes. The race was over for me already, but I didn’t want to pull out.

Credits: Xterra

I was a bit running and a lot walking, and I still finished the race. It was good for me mentally and to get some race feeling back, but I was far away from my goal. Next race will be in two weeks time back in Italy again.