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Schlagbauer and Lothaller win the 4th Austria eXtreme Triathlon

As in previous years, the fourth edition of the Austria eXtreme Triathlon was not stingy with the challenges facing the participants. On the 258 km course from Graz to the Dachstein, they had to fight not only with the track but also with strong wind, rain and temperatures only just above the freezing point. 62 athletes from 27 nations reached the finish line with sensational performances, led by Christoph Schlagbauer in a time of 12:45 and Dominique Lothaller in 16:08.

But let’s take one thing at a time. As the race preparations begin at 3 o’clock in the morning, there is still darkness and silence over the floodplain of the Mur to the south of Graz, possibly interrupted by the concert of some frogs. At dawn, a blazing X on the opposite bank of the river is the starting signal and at the latest now it is clear that the drop in temperature the day before and heavy rains provide for selective conditions on the 3.8 km long swim. Thus, the 200 m against the flow in 14 degrees cold water to the first buoy are a tough test for some.

With a swim time of 52 minutes, Christoph Schlagbauer is the first to go on the bike course, which initially leads via the Gaberl into the Pölstal valley as in recent years. With the pass height Hohentauern a new part of the bike course waits for the athletes, since the road over the Sölkpass, which was severely damaged by a storm in the summer of 2017, is still closed. The bike course leads into the Paltental and past the castle Strechau up to Oppenberg through a no less beautiful landscape, to the transition zone at the Sölksperre. In numbers: 210 km and 3,500 vertical meters, accompanied by sometimes strong wind.

While last year for many the extreme heat was the main problem on the running track over 44 km and 1,900 vertical meters, so it is the cold this year. Especially in the last section, which leads under the south wall of the nearly 3,000 meter high Dachstein in alpine terrain, icy rain brings many to their limits. Once again, for many, the key to success lies in the motivation, change of clothes and drinks provided by the obligatory support runners joining the athletes at km 27. Thus, despite the adverse conditions, 62 out of 100 athletes who have started have reached the finish line, where they are received with cheers and cowbells until 00:30. Christoph Schlagbauer and Bernhard Goll (both Austria) and Timothy Wolvetang (Netherlands), as well as Dominique Lothaller, Birgit Schröttner and Isabella Gschwandtner (all Austria) lead the field.

With its fourth edition, the Austria eXtreme Triathlon is firmly anchored in the international calendar of extreme events, participants from China, South Africa or Brazil did not shy away from the long journey to be part of the adventure. The extreme challenge, the team spirit of the competitors, the organizational team and the volunteers, the fans along the route and continuous live tracking make the Austria eXtreme Triathlon unique. The President of the Austria eXtreme Triathlon, Maria Schwarz, sums up the philosophy of the race: “All athletes reach their limits and they all will take the experiences of this day into their daily lives – and live our motto,”It will change your life”.

The 5th Austria eXtreme Triathlon will be held on, 29th June 2019.

See more pictures and films from the race at www.areextremechallenge.se/en