Kalamos multisport festival 2017/Energy triathlon Attiki was organised by the Greek triathlon federation in collaboration with the municipality of Oropos, while ‘Energy races’ was responsible for the technical parts of the race.
The race included the following events: Semi long distance triathlon (1500m swim, 60km cycle, 15km run), sprint triathlon (750m swim, 20km cycle, 5km run), aquathlon (750m swim, 5km run), as well as team relays of the semi long and sprint distances. For the bike race the elevation as given by the organisers is 41m, while the running route is pretty flat too. You definitely need a wetsuit (I did it without one as I didn’t know better).
Regarding registration to the race, this is pretty easy if you speak Greek. If you don’t speak Greek you can use Google translate to help you. For registrations go to ‘ΕΓΓΡΑΦΕΣ᾽ and pick the race you want (this is in English). In the next page you need to choose the event you wish to take part in (triathlon relay, aquathlon or triathlon). This is in Greek so do use Google translate. The actual form where you fill in your details is in both Greek and English so that shouldn’t be a problem. If in doubt about anything do contact the organisers. To do so you can click on ‘ΠΡΟΦΙΛ’ and then ‘ΕΠΙΚΟΙΝΩΝΙΑ’. They were very helpful and spoke perfect English at the briefing, so no doubt they will be happy to help.
I was very impressed with the immaculate race organisation. I realised how complicated organising triathlon races is and how making sure everyone is safe becomes an issue, whether it’s in the water or during the bike ride (the running being the safest of the 3 events). I felt very secure inside the water as there were many boats and lifeguards all around us. I was amazed that both my swim, transition and run times were accurate. Finally, the referees ensured that all sorts of triathlon rules were followed.
Kalamos multisport festival took place at Agioi Apostoloi, Kalamos at Oropos, a sea resort about 45km northeast of Athens. I would very happily visit for a weekend away from home if there is somewhere nice to stay. You can easily drive there on the morning of the race if you live somewhere in Attika.
My own experience as a first timer at a multisport event
It all started when another mum at one of my son’s school parties mentioned that she was training for a triathlon that will take place in May on a Greek island. My husband loved the idea and he thought him and I could participate in the relay event of that race, I would do the swimming and running and he would do the cycling in between. What a great idea, we booked our lovely hotel on the island and started planning for an athletic family weekend away. Due to the fact that we registered for that race I got an email about another triathlon taking place beforehand, which also included an ‘aquathlon’ event as they called it, that is 750m swimming followed by 5k running, no bikes involved. I like to think I can swim well (enough) and I can tackle a 5k at a half decent time, so I thought this was a great thing for me to try, so I went ahead and booked my place. I do swim about 1km a day at our local Vouliagmeni lake during the summer months but my last swim had been done in October 2016, so even though there was no time to train properly I thought that I should go back to the lake at least once to get back into the swing of things and smooth my breathing out a bit. Indeed I did so on a lovely sunny and warm day with my son and husband and we all loved being there once again. The water temperature was 26oC, which was perfectly acceptable and pleasant. I confirmed I could still cover the distance required for the race and even though I hadn’t trained properly I was confident that I could tackle it as a new and fun thing. My very supportive husband got me a triathlon compression suit of my favourite running brand, which I thought was absolutely beautiful so I was all ready to go! There was just this one thing, when I was reading the race instructions it said that most people would be wearing a wet suit at this time of the year, but this was not compulsory. As I did not know at that point whether I would be trying this type of thing again, I was stingy and didn’t want to invest in a wet suit. After all how cold could the sea be in Greece in April and I really wasn’t going to be in it for that long (about 20-25 minutes tops), so I decided against the wetsuit. I did however think I should attend the race briefing that was taking place the day before. Although all information was written on the organiser’s website, it really helped me being there as it clarified what I could and could not have in my basket at the transition area, I worked out how to wear my timing chip (strap on the ankle) and my bib race belt, I got to get a feel of what the place looked like and orientated myself. The organisers that were doing the briefing were really thorough and raised all sorts of safety issues that needed to be observed. These were serious people and so were all participants, it was a bit intimidating but I loved the buzz in the air. In the end I approached and chatted to the speaker about a couple of things that concerned me and he gave me some sound advice. At some point he asked me whether I have a wetsuit. Once I said no he told me to watch out for the cold but that I should be ok. It was then it was confirmed to me I needed a wetsuit but as it was Saturday night there was nothing to be done. We drove home and that evening I was so nervous. I had realised this was not going to be a walk in the park and that really the swimming was going to be a bit of a problem, as I hate swimming far away from the shore and I really don’t tolerate the cold well at all. Hypothermia is not something one can fight with strong will like I have done when the going gets tough in running races. I knew there was no point in trying to sleep early so I stayed up until 1am watching a bit of House, trying to chill.
My husband drove me to the start and we were there well in advance to put things into the basket one uses during transition. For non triathletes, this is where you place all the things you will need during the race for all the sports you are doing.
It was not a warm morning and the sea looked a bit rough. I was looking at the buoys in the sea that marked our route, they seemed so far away. I put on my coat and even a wooly hat to keep as warm as possible before going in.
My heart started sinking as I watched one after the other 95% of the other competitors putting on their wetsuits. I just didn’t feel up for it, this felt threatening. I asked a girl at registration whether I was mad going in like that. She saw I was petrified and was very very kind and encouraging. She said that I will be cold, I should dive before the race starts to get over the shock, but I will be fine. She said she had done her first triathlon in a bikini while all others were in wetsuits and that I will be able to boast about this in the future.
The time came to go to the beach, I finally took off my clothes at the last minute, wore my hat and goggles. A kiss to my husband and a last picture.
The whistle went and everyone went in. I had to wait till my apple watch locked (it becomes water resistant when you use its swimming mode) before I could go in and by that time everyone was already gone.
I put my feet in, it was ok I thought. And then I dived in and oh my, my breath stopped. My immediate thought was this is a definite no, get out, no point in even trying. End of game. Somehow though I kept swimming away, thinking I’ll turn back in a minute. The sea was rough and because I couldn’t breath properly due to the shock I couldn’t put my face in to do my freestyle. I had to keep my head out and do the strokes, which I hate as it takes lots of effort and it’s more likely for me to swallow water like that. After about 250m I was able to put my head in and manage a few semi-proper strokes at a time. After passing the second buoy we had the wind with us and we were heading towards the shore again so the whole thing was a bit less menacing. I did make it to the shore and got out heading towards the transition area.
My husband was there, it was really nice to see him. I went to my basket where I had to put my shoes, glasses, bib number and gloves on. Next to me there was a guy that was drying his feet, taking his time, so I thought this is what people do, I’ll do the same. So I took my time about (4.29 whole minutes) but at that point I was still dazed from the cold. Eventually, one of the officials, a lovely man, came near me and said something along the lines “are you going to wear your glasses, your t-shirt, are you cold, no you are ok, go”. His calm determination sent me out of the transition area and into my run. At the beginning of the run I felt really shaky, it felt like I was shifting but I wasn’t feeling right. After a while I started feeling better and managed to get around the course in an awful (for me) 5k time of 26.49, having a recent 5k time of 22.32. When I looked at my watch data the kilometer pace for the run was like that:
1st km at 5.56, 2nd km at 5.13, 3d km at 5.09, 4th at 4.54 and, 5th at 4.47. I think this says it all.
At the end I collapsed into the arms of my husband almost in tears. I finished 10th out of the 12 women competing in the same event (23.25min swim, 4.29min transition, 26.49min run, 54.44 min total) and even though this is by no means a great position I am immensely happy I have completed it. For some reason, my husband also loved watching this event. I am now about to book myself into the next swim/run event that takes place in June, aiming to train better for this and hoping that the higher water temperature at that time of the year will make the whole experience a bit less threatening. After doing the exact same training and taking part in pretty much the same run races year in year out, I am happy to give something different a go.