The Nafplio Energy triathlon took place on Sunday 11th June 2017 and was organised by the Greek triathlon foundation in collaboration with the municipality of Nafplio. The races that took place were:
Olympic distance triathlon (1,500m swimming, 40km cycling and 10km running); sprint distance triathlion (750m swimming, 20km cycling and 5km running). One could do all three disciplines on their own or could participate in either race as part of a 2 or 3 people team. For those not expert yet on cycling there was also an aquathlon (750m swimming and 5km running), a super sprint aquathlon (350m swimming and 2.5km running) as well as a kids race (150m swimming and 1km running). Despite the fact that there were so many races going on, all events ran smoothly and were really well organised.
Registration for the races is done on line, but the website is in Greek. However, the race names are in English, so you can pick which one you are interested in even if not a Greek language speaker. The actual registration form is both in Greek and English. Bib numbers were given the Saturday before the race at Nafplio. There was a briefing for all races at ‘Fougaro’, a building that hosted an old canning factory that has now been transformed into a multidisciplinary arts space with a library, exhibition and concert rooms, a café and lots of space for kiddies to run around.
The swimming part of the race was done in the Nafplio harbor. The sea was very calm but was not crystal clear (you could not see the sea bottom at any point). One had to jump into the water from the wall, while there were steps at the finish line in order to get out of the water (I had to put my knees on the steps first to get myself out).
The water temperature was pleasant and for this reason no wet suits were allowed in this race. The cycling and running routes were flat and quick. On the day we were lucky as some clouds were hiding the sun for parts of the race. Bear in mind that temperatures in Greece during this time of the year can range from about 26 to over 30oC so it was still very hot.
A little bonus in the race was the swimming cap we were given with our race package that had the name of the race printed on it as well as the symbol of Nafpio, the venetian fortress ‘Bourtzi’.
Why do this race
It is really well organised, you can pick from lots of events, the water temperature was nice and the sea calm, while the running and cycling routes were flat. So it’s great for a novice or for someone really serious wanting to get a PB. If you don’t like cycling, you can take part in the relay or aquathlon events. Furthermore, Nafpio is a lovely city not very far from Athens where you can have a little holiday.
A few words about Nafplio
Nafplio is a port town in the northeast Peloponese. It got its name from Nafplios, the son of Poseidon and Amimoni. Ancient ruins tell us that the history of this town began at the 8th century BC. During Byzantine times Nafplio become a powerful commercial city due to its strategic location. It was later conquered by the Franks, the Venetians and the Turks, all of which have left their mark on the city’s architecture. In 1823 Nafplio was freed from the Turkish occupation and became the first capital of the independent Greek state. Three years later the 1st governor of the Greek state was murdered in front of the church of St Spyridon.
Some of the things to do while in Nafplio is to walk around the old town, have a coffee or a drink at the Italian style Syntagma square while admiring the surrounding important buildings, climb the 999 steps up to Palamidi Castle, take a picture of the symbol of Nafplio, the venetian fortress of Bourtzi, or even better try to visit it by boat. Nice beaches exist around Nafplio (swimming in the port was done only for the race).
Hugely important archaeological sites exist near Nafplio.These include Mycenae, half an hour away, where you can see the remains of Agamemnon’s palace; Nemea, where ancient games in honour of Zeus were being conducted and which is now an area famous for its wines with several wineries that can be visited; Epidavrous, with its ancient theatre that is beautifully conserved and where theatrical and musical performances are still being conducted. It is a magical place and if you can catch a play there you will remember it for life. Finally, there is ancient Tiryns with is impressive walls 4 km away from Nafplio.
How to get there
Nafplio is about 92km away from Athens. The drive is straight forward and it took us a bit less than 2 hours to get there. You can also take the bus there. Sadly although there is a train station trains are not running any more.
Where to stay
We stayed for the second time at the hotel Amphitryon. We love this hotel for several reasons. It is quite old fashioned with excellent excellent service. It is starting to need a bit of renovation in the communal areas but rooms are very spacious, nice looking, comfortable, clean, with a sea view and a view of the isle of Bourtzi. My 4 year-old son (and all of us really) loved the electric curtains. There is a window separating the room from the bathroom so if you choose to have the blinds open you can shower with a sea view. The service was first class and people were polite, helpful and friendly.
Another place I thought looked really nice was the 3Sixty hotel and Suites. The website looks great too so if you have a dollar to spend it may be worth checking out.
Where to eat
The first time we visited Nafplio we asked the hotel where to eat and all went well. This time we decided to be adventurous and pick one of the nice tavernas in the old town. It was one of the worst meals I have ever had and I am really not picky. We had some awful looking taramosalata and a variety of vegetable dishes. I really don’t understand how one can make lady fingers taste so bad. So I’m afraid that Nafplio is full of tourist traps. We did learn after this and for dinner the hotel sent us to a lovely Italian restaurant called ‘La Gratella’, which was truly pleasant with great service and great starters and pizzas.
Other races that take place in Nafplio
Nafplio also hosts its own marathon that has been taking place for the last 4 years. The 2017 race took place in March.
A personal review of the Nafplio Enerfy Triathlon
As my husband and I seemed to enjoy taking part in the triathlon relay a few weeks ago in Spetses at Spetsathlon, we registered to do another one this time in the historic city of Nafplio. I would be swimming and running and he would be cycling. We had visited the city before for another athletic event, a run race I did a couple of years ago. We stayed at the same hotel as last time as it has an amazing sea view (even from the bathroom), five star service and very impressive button operated electric curtains that somehow mesmerized all three of us. The view of the port and of the venetian castle Bourtzi while sitting at your balcony, is quite something.
We arrived there quite late on Saturday evening and went straight to the place where the briefing for the race and picking up bib numbers was taking place. I attended the briefing (which did not seem as scary as the first time I attended one of them), while my husband stayed outside (he doesn’t understand Greek so no point in him being briefed) and looked after our son who had bumped into one of his classmates (as you do) and was having a great time running around. I think we all felt a bit better this time as the swimming part didn’t appear to have anything terrible about it like it being overly cold and me not having invested in a wet suit (see Kalamos triathlon/aquathlon), or jelly fish swarming the place (see Spetsathlon). The bike route also looked flat and straight and not hilly with very difficult curves like on previous occasions (again see Spetsathlon). After the briefing we returned to our hotel and attempted to book an Italian restaurant for dinner, which however was full due to the great number of very serious triathletes attending the race that were fuelling up with carbohydrates the night before the race. We settled for a smaller Italian place, enjoyed a bit of wine and returned to the hotel to prepare our things for the morning.
We all up got up and did what we had to do in the morning but the team’s cyclist looked a bit off. He asked us to leave the room and he would come meet us at the start (that is me and my son who was going to be our baton for this race). I got a bit stressed as I was swimming first and was worried about having our son with me while being nervous about it all. The 2 of us entered the transition area for me to leave my running shoes while being chased by the lady race referee who was concerned (rightfully) about a 4 year being in the area, but was completely understanding when I explained the situation to her. My husband thankfully showed up and I went close to the start. I thought there would be steps down into the sea but I was mistaken, we had to jump from the wall. I took for ever to finish rearranging my swim cap and goggles but eventually I took the plunge.
Several minutes later the race started and off we went swimming about 250m away from the shore before taking a right turn at the buoy, then swimming parallel to the shore and finally swimming towards the beach for the final couple of hunded meters. It may be psychological, but even though this time there was no problem with the water temperature, I only found myself breathing and swimming properly only after the first buoy, it must be the fact that I hate swimming so far away from the shore. I did however get into a rhythm after the turn and even swam quite well (I thought) for the last part of the race. I got to the steps that we were supposed to use to get out, had to put my knees on first to pull myself out of the water, thankfully I managed without having to be dragged out! I ran to our transition are and gave the timing chip to my husband, and off he went. As all relay teams were put together at the transition area, I had a nice chat with some of the people waiting for their teammates, it was quite pleasant. After a while that seemed longer than it should have been, our cyclist returned and off I went for the run.
It was a bit cloudy so it was not as bad as it could have been, but it was still scorchio and very humid. I found myself running at a reasonable pace, better than in other races of this type, although still not close to my 5k normal pace. It remains to be seen whether this is because I am slower these days or whether the swimming and heat take their toll on me.
When I finished my son and husband were there to cheer and hug! A few seconds after I stopped my head got really hot, there was a sudden rush of heat and begged for some water. Luckily my husband had some on him, which I poured over my head, so all was ok!
He later told me that this morning he was feeling really unwell and had been sick and had diarrhoea but he didn’t want to worry me before the race. This explains him wanting to stay alone in the room while me and our boy walked to the start alone. All things considering, we did well. I was a little bit faster in my swim and run and the bike time, though not the best possible, was still ok. When the results came out the next day we were at respectable 23rd position out of 32 teams, woo hoo!!!
After the race, washing ourselves and recovering a bit, we went around town to do some shopping, bought some local honey and had lunch. A stray dog came to our table asking for a bite to eat, he was too thin. We had nothing we could give him at the time so he moved on to the next table. I ordered a portion of food for him from the restaurant to take away and feed him at the street corner, but by the time this arrived he was gone. We finished our lunch and I told my husband we should look for him. He agreed and at some point we took different routes so that we could find him. I spotted him as we were about to give up and my husband ran and gave him the food. At this point I knew he is a good man, he didn’t tell me I was crazy for looking for a dog around town, he didn’t say he couldn’t be bothered walking about on tired legs, he agreed this creature needed to eat.
The afternoon after the race, a massive thunderstorm hit the place, which we were able to admire in awe from our room.
It rained on and off for the rest of the day but this didn’t stop us going for waffles after dinner, splashing around the place. It was quite romantic running around town with no one else insight, finding the little place we were looking for, sitting on the table that was just about covered so that we didn’t get drenched and stuffing our faces with waffle and nutella. My son was contented. He deserved it for being so good, standing around all morning while us idiots ran around doing our race.
We returned home the morning after, another little adventure had come to an end.