Olympic tri de Mont Blanc

Sallanches, France – Olympic  – 22 August 2015
By Julio Aprea

I won’t go into the social and logistics aspects of the Triathlon de Mont Blanc as it is nicely covered by Louise for the sprint. Suffice to say that Sarah found amazing accommodation (details at end of post), the views were breathtaking and there were plenty of occasions for good food and carb-loading with the team.

Regarding the Olympic Distance event (which I did with Nick and Mark), it consisted in a swim in the perfect Lac Passy with a view of the Mont Blanc. And the spandex swim caps provided were very sexy.

sexy swimcaps

A bike course with quite a bit of climbing and a two lap running course around the lake and surroundings. In the diagram below you can see the altitude profile, 900 meters of altitude differences with a small but steeper climb at the beginning (which ended up being more difficult than the big climb).

mont blanc M bike elevation profile


Nick, Mark and myself started together on the boys’ side of the race. Nick promised not to push us into the water as he had done with other ExpaTRIes in previous occasions. The start was fine, bit messy as we started running from the coast, but since Enghien I have realized that the open water swim is more about rugby than swim skills. I climbed over a few people, kicked a few more, but I haven’t gotten around to pulling feet yet. Some guy doing breast-stroke kick me not once, not twice but three times, by the I decided to “breast-stroke kick” into his chest and he was a problem no more.

I managed to complete my swim in under 30 min and I can call that a new personal best. I was not looking at my time but when I arrived to T1 and I saw Nick’s bike still there I thought to myself “Holy shit!” did I actually finish first?!? (Nick was swimming without wetsuit btw). To my dismay, Nick was right behind me, and he crushed me in T1, I was still getting out of my wetsuit when he was already leaving with the bike. We started the bike course and I sprinted a bit in the flat part to catch up with him (I would pay dearly for that later on).

Following Nick’s recommendation to “respect the climb”, I started not too hard (that’s what I thought, it was still too hard!). After the first steep climb I was asking myself what I was doing there and I was ready to quit. Luckily the first slope came to an end and I could descend at 55kmh, wheee! (That’s fast for me! OK?!?)

The second climb came and went, as it was less steep than the first one, longer though, by the end of it I was almost done but the descent again was brilliant. I cannot descent face into the wind a la Rosario/Sudeep yet but I’m liking more and more the speeds one can reach there.

Now the run…. what the hell happened there…. I stepped off the bike and my legs were not reacting… I pushed through it, I wanted to roll over and die, my lungs and the muscles of my ribcage were screaming in pain with every breath, my cadence was probably around 60, my pace slower than 6:30/min! The only thing keeping me from walking was the thought that Nick would be right behind and crushing me at any moment. It was hot, I was dehydrated, the hydration station only had Coke! I finished the first lap and I was shouting for water and my fellow Expatries were smiling and cheering… How dare they smile when I was in such misery?!?! 🙂
[Note from Sarah: Because we thought you were finishing your 2nd lap!]

Apparently this is where the bike course was coming to bite me in the ass: the bike was really enjoyable but it depleted all my energy for the run. Lesson learned, bikes are evil… finished the run in 57 min, almost 10 min longer than what I should have done according to previous races.

Here are our results:

MB M dist results

So I finished the run and the race, after the finish line I collapsed on the ground and stayed there for a few minutes. Then I joined Mark and Nick and we went for a relaxing massage session. Nice dinner, I was super super tired but burgers and beers helped. The following day back to Paris and to falling asleep at 20:00. Now I have to do Chantilly M next week, we’ll see if I manage to recover for it.


Accommodation: we stayed at an Airbnb apartment in Sallanches. The cost, split between 4 people, was a bargain, it was 1km from the train station and close to restaurants so we didn’t need a rental car. The kitchen was well-equipped and the views were spectacular. The owner (a cyclist) was very sympa, spoke perfect English and responded almost instantly to any questions.