I am back here in Greece, I just love this beautiful place south of Athens called Vouliagmeni. And its not only the beautiful landscapes and the great weather that made me come back, its the whole atmosphere here at the race venue, the great service with a pickup from the airport with a personal rental car, the perfectly marked race courses, the time management before and during the race and of course the people.
After my Xterra season opener in Cyprus I came here for my second race of the season, I already know the course from last year, so it was a very easy preparation for me. I still did two loops on the bike course to know where to attack, and one loop on the running course, to get a feeling of the 2 steep technical uphill trails again.
On the day before the actual race, the XTERRA Greece crew also offered a couple of other events to take part in, for kids, beginners and just for fun. So we took part in the Laser-Gun-Run. It was actually planned to be a game for the little kids, but then also the PRO athletes wanted to be part of it, so we had a little fun battle with shooting and running.
1000m swim (with a quick run between the 2 loops)
The race start of this years Xterra Greece was at 10 in the morning, which was good as the weather was pretty cold the last few days before the race, so some extra minutes of sun before jumping into the cold sea was pretty awesome. I set um my transition, put on my Zoggs FX1 wetsuit and went for a warmup swim. The PRO field started ahead of the age groupers, and we had to swim 2 loops each 750m with a little beach-run in between.
I came out the water in 9th position, just behind Kris Coddens, my transition was really fast so we went on the bike together, and pushed each other to ride fast. So we came back to T2 with the 4th and 5th fastest split of the day, I knew he can run fast, so I tried to get a gap between us with changing fast in transition, I ran out some seconds ahead and had a small gap, I wasn’t really thinking back, only wanted to catch the one in front of me. At this stage I didn’t know how far this would be, but all my focus was to the front. Kris then could catch me and we were running together on the first loop. These 2 technical uphills were really tough after our fast bike ride. I unluckily lost some time on the fast running downhills due to some little cramps in my legs. I was now in 7th position for the second running loop. I still had a good pace, but there was no chance of running to the TOP 5 anymore.
I finished 7th on my second Xterra Europe race of 2019, and I am super happy how it came out. My 5th place from Xterra Cyprus and my 7th place from Xterra Greece means a 2nd place in the overall European Tour ranking, just behind Xavier Dafflon (lots will change, because we are only 2 of a few having 2 races in the calculation).