If you want to test your limits and experience an adventure with like-minded people in a magnificent landscape, you can book an expedition to the Himalayas, the desert or the jungle. Triathletes have another option: they can participate in the Austria eXtreme Triathlon.
Dawn in the river floodplain south of Graz. The Austria eXtreme Triathlon starts with a jump into the Murriver, where the water temperature remains below 14 degrees Celsius even in mid-summer. The combination of cold, darkness and the current become the first test. At least the distances now waiting for the athletes are familiar: 3.8 km river swimming, 186 km cycling, 44 km running, corresponding roughly to a long-distance triathlon. Very soon, however, it becomes clear that these numbers are only the basis for the true challenges. First, the bike route leads over the cols Gaberl and Sölkpass, with an altitude difference just slightly under +3.900 meters. Second, the running track leads over +1.850 vertical meters, finishing on mountain trails high up under the south wall of the Dachstein. The track featuressweltering heat, icy cold and snow fields – but also fantastic scenery, pure nature from the pasture landscape to the high mountains.
The Austria eXtreme Triathlon is therefore not comparable to traditional triathlons. Organizer Maria Schwarz sums up the most important difference: You can only face this huge challenge as a team. Athletes and their supporters have to work closely together, the supporters have to run with their athletes for the final trail section of the race. The friendship between the competitors is also unique, as it no longer exists at major events.
Unique as the race is as well the background of its founding. It’s the story of two brothers who did not manage to get slots for an extreme triathlon for years. Without further ado, they decided to organize a race for themselves and just three friends. They had barely begun work when it already hailed expressions of interest from virtually everywhere – the Austria eXtreme Triathlon was born.
As always, sharing the experience of an extremely tough but beautiful day will be the main focus. And as in the last few years, probably all finishers will remember this day according to its motto: «It will change your life». Just like an expedition to the Himalayas, the desert or the jungle.