Alex­ey Kirov, who com­petes for the Sber­bank Triathlon sports club, told how the endurance test went, what we had to face and how to pre­pare for such com­pe­ti­tions. The ath­lete has been involved in triathlon since 2019 and has already become a fin­ish­er of the Wild Siberia Xtream Triathlon (226 km), Himalayan XTRI Nepal (226 km), Baltic­Man Ultra Triathlon (628 km), Siber­Man Ultra Triathlon (515 km) and Mad Fox Ultra Val­hal­la Race (100 mile race).

On Sep­tem­ber 1, the extreme triathlon com­pe­ti­tion of the world series XTRI World Tour — ICON LIVIGNO EXTREME TRIATHLON was held in Livi­g­no (Italy) over a full “iron” dis­tance of 226 km.

The XTRI World Tour is an extreme triathlon rac­ing series held in unique loca­tions around the world: Nor­way, Nepal, Scot­land, Switzer­land, Cana­da, USA, Swe­den, Italy, Slo­va­kia, Mon­tene­gro, Greece, Tai­wan, Brazil

“Black Lake”

The swim takes place in com­plete dark­ness in the alpine lake Lago del Gal­lo.

The length of the swim­ming stage is 3.8 km, the water tem­per­a­ture at the begin­ning of Sep­tem­ber is 14–18 degrees.

Stelvio Pass

The length of the cycling stage is 195 km, with an ele­va­tion gain of 5000 m, cross­ing neigh­bor­ing Switzer­land

Par­tic­i­pants will have to over­come a climb with 48 turns and reach the Stelvio Pass — the sec­ond high­est pass in Europe, 2757 m

Carosello 3000

Run­ning stage – 42.2 km, which takes place in the vicin­i­ty of Livi­g­no

The final 10 km is a ver­ti­cal uphill race (approx. 1100 m) lead­ing to the Carosel­lo 3000 point (3000 m)

A manda­to­ry require­ment for such a race is the pres­ence of a sup­port team (min­i­mum 1 per­son), which must accom­pa­ny the par­tic­i­pant dur­ing the cycling and run­ning stages.

Preparation

In the spring, the final under­stand­ing of the sports plans for the year came, and, one might say, from that moment my prepa­ra­tion began.

As strange as it may sound, the main empha­sis of this train­ing was dis­ci­pline.

Con­sid­er­ing my rhythm of life, time spent with fam­i­ly and loved ones, office work, weak­ness­es and temp­ta­tions that con­stant­ly arise, it was impor­tant to adhere to the already lim­it­ed “sports sched­ule”.

The sports com­po­nent of my prepa­ra­tion for this race was no dif­fer­ent from all pre­vi­ous ones, but there was one nuance — three weeks before the start, on August 12, I fin­ished the three-day Siber­Man 515 ultra­triathlon race.

To main­tain phys­i­cal fit­ness in such con­di­tions, the final three weeks were recov­ery weeks, with light loads. Despite all this, my health and mood gave me opti­mism.

Also impor­tant prepa­ra­tion points were:

  • equip­ment

Con­sid­er­ing the extreme con­di­tions of the race, the safe­ty and auton­o­my pro­vid­ed by the sup­port team, it was nec­es­sary to pre­pare the manda­to­ry equip­ment and choose the right cloth­ing to take into account the unpre­dictable weath­er con­di­tions.

Of course, air­line restric­tions on lug­gage dimen­sions made some adjust­ments, but the min­i­mum set was pre­pared, and some was pur­chased on the spot

  • logis­tics

The main dis­com­fort was the moment asso­ci­at­ed with the long flight, but this moment can also be turned into a pos­i­tive pas­time. For exam­ple, dur­ing tran­sit, take a walk in a new coun­try.

Since full auton­o­my dur­ing the cycling stage is ensured by the sup­port team, rent­ing a car is a must.

  • sup­port team

It so hap­pened that I came to the race alone, so I had to look for a “local” sup­port. This was prob­a­bly the most intense and excit­ing moment in prepa­ra­tion. Thanks to the enor­mous sup­port of peo­ple I know and my Sber­bank Triathlon Team, I not only found sup­port, but also met inter­est­ing peo­ple. For this I am espe­cial­ly grate­ful to them.

My sup­port was Roman, who com­plet­ed his stud­ies in Rome and was sup­posed to leave Italy, but in order to par­tic­i­pate in the race he post­poned his flight.

We met the day before the race, dis­cussed the plan for the race, nutri­tion and oth­er nuances, and ear­ly in the morn­ing we began our jour­ney.

I am very glad that Roman coped bril­liant­ly with his role and am grate­ful to him for the sup­port he pro­vid­ed.

Swimming

The day starts ear­ly, at 2:30. No fuss, no sleepi­ness, min­i­mum talk­ing, full con­cen­tra­tion on the day ahead.

The bicy­cle must be placed in the tran­sit zone, which is locat­ed next to the start. Time flies by, all prepa­ra­tions are com­plet­ed, the wet­suit is put on, the life buoy is inflat­ed and secured. Wait­ing to start.

It’s about 0 degrees out­side, com­plete­ly dark. A burn­ing fire and musi­cal accom­pa­ni­ment rem­i­nis­cent of a heart­beat add ten­sion.

As the start approach­es, thoughts turn off, sur­round­ing noise dis­ap­pears, and there is a com­plete immer­sion in the event, “here and now.”

Par­tic­i­pants are invit­ed into the water (the start takes place from the water), count­down, start.

The first “sur­prise” did not take long to arrive. Lit­er­al­ly after 300 meters I begin to feel heav­i­ness in my arms, my pace slows down sig­nif­i­cant­ly. I stop, try to raise the buoy and real­ize that it is almost com­plete­ly filled with water; instead of a safe­ty island, it has turned into an anchor. With­out think­ing twice, I take off the rope on which the buoy was attached and throw it. The first moments of what was hap­pen­ing scared me a lit­tle, but I quick­ly col­lect­ed my thoughts and con­tin­ued to swim.

The fur­ther voy­age was com­fort­able. Calm lake, route marked with lumi­nous buoys. The water no longer seemed so cold, I caught my rhythm and com­plet­ed the first stage.

In the tran­sit zone, I changed into my cycling uni­form and drank hot tea. Before I even got to the bike, I start­ed shak­ing from the cold almost imme­di­ate­ly.

Bike

The start of the cycling stage also began in the dark, with appro­pri­ate air tem­per­a­tures.

My “warm” out­fit con­sist­ed of a trisuit, a long sleeve jer­sey and a vest. This was a big mis­take. It was still a long time before dawn, the cold pierced through me, my hands went numb. And in this state I had to dri­ve for the first 80 km until the sun began to warm up.

An unpleas­ant inci­dent occurred in the area of ​​60 kilo­me­ters. Dri­ving through a flat area at high speed, my path crossed with a passer­by who was cross­ing the road. Every­thing hap­pened in an instant. The first feel­ing is fear for the man, who was thrown to the side by the col­li­sion. After the man got up and real­ized that the col­li­sion had passed with­out seri­ous con­se­quences, he con­tin­ued the race. Every­thing turned out to be a slight bruise and minor scratch­es.

The icing on the cake of the cycling stage is, of course, the incred­i­bly beau­ti­ful Stelvio Pass.

Approach­ing it, the sun final­ly began to get hot and only then was it pos­si­ble to take off the “out­er cloth­ing” and con­tin­ue the jour­ney in a three-suit.

Before the start, I had no idea what this pass was like and what await­ed me.

In my mem­o­ry, it was divid­ed into two stages: “for­est”, when, as it seemed, an end­less ser­pen­tine passed through the for­est, and “moun­tain”, when it seemed that all the dif­fi­cul­ties were behind us, when sud­den­ly all the beau­ty of this pass opens up before you and you under­stand that the real rise has not yet begun, every­thing is still ahead.

It was hard both phys­i­cal­ly and men­tal­ly. I had to stop sev­er­al times, it felt like the lights were about to go out. Heat, fatigue and pos­si­bly mal­nu­tri­tion were tak­ing their toll. We had to be patient and here we are at the top of the pass.

After the ascent, the long-await­ed and long descent began. On the one hand, this is a time when it is pos­si­ble to save a lit­tle ener­gy, but high speed, fatigue and excite­ment require great con­cen­tra­tion. Sharp turns, tun­nels and oncom­ing traf­fic pose great dan­gers.

Anoth­er climb was ahead, but noth­ing could sur­prise me so much; I under­stood that the sec­ond tran­sit zone was already close.

Run

The run­ning stage began with some inspi­ra­tion and a surge of strength.

In antic­i­pa­tion of the final climb, the first 34 km of the run­ning stage flew by, alter­nat­ing descents and ascents.

The last 8 km and 1100 m of ascent are the way to the top of Carosel­lo 3000. And even they flew by unno­ticed, noth­ing could stop me.

And here it is!

The final

No mat­ter how long and stress­ful this path may be, always after the fin­ish line comes a feel­ing of light­ness, free­dom and the world around us becomes a lit­tle bet­ter.

Emo­tions at the fin­ish line are, of course, over­whelm­ing. I am incred­i­bly glad that every­thing worked out for me. I am grate­ful to every­one who helped and sup­port­ed me.

This will for­ev­er remain in my soul and mem­o­ry

Sports and triathlon are my out­let. This is what helps me expe­ri­ence emo­tions, helps me relax, get away from the hus­tle and bus­tle, for­get, reflect, med­i­tate. Every train­ing, trip and com­pe­ti­tion gives me some­thing new.

I love what I do.