XTERRA Greece, the third stop on the XTERRA European Tour, is sold out for the second straight year having reached its capacity of 380 racers. The event picked up momentum last year, after the decision to move from its previous home at Lake Plastira in 2016 to a new location on the Athenian Riviera and the Municipality of Vouliagmeni.
The course for XTERRA Greece is located in the city of Vouliagmeni, just 20km south of Athens at the foot of the Hymettus mountain range and along local beaches. The town has a history of athletics and was the site of the triathlon competition in the 2004 Summer Olympics. “Greece is a destination that everyone would love to visit at least once in a lifetime,” said Konstantino Koumargialis, Race Director at XTERRA Greece.
Participating athletes can expect tough climbs, challenging and varied terrain, and water of about 19ºC (66ºF), with wetsuits optional. Both the bike and run courses feature ‘sets of steps that wind up the steep, Greek hills’. The downhills are equally steep and fast. The race uses some side roads in Vouliagmeni that include ‘bistros, restaurants, and of course, many cheering spectators’.
Athens has a rich history going back thousands of years and still has archaeological relics from ancient times, such as the Acropolis, the temple of Olympian Zeus, and the Parthenon. It is the birthplace of democracy as well as the marathon, and is the ‘home to philosophical ideals and athletic marvels’.
“We are thrilled that XTERRA Greece is so close to Athens,” added Koumargialis. “Although Lake Plastira, where we had the race the first three years was a magical location, it was far from central airports and main cities. Our numbers increased from 230 people in 2015 to 320 in 2016 and this year to 380 entrants, making it one of the biggest triathlon events in the country.”
“XTERRA Greece will be the first big battle for our European elites this season,” said Nicolas Lebrun, XTERRA European Tour Director. “With 20 elite men and eight elite women, all the big names will be there, and we are looking forward to seeing some great action.”
Last year’s race featured a major battle between the Spaniards, with 2017 XTERRA Malta Champ Roger Serrano breaking three-time XTERRA World Champ Ruben Ruzafa’s winning streak of 13 straight victories in Europe. The two were together until the run, when Serrano pulled away for the win in 2:17:22, less than a minute in front of Ruzafa. Frenchman Brice Daubord finished third.
In the women’s race last year, 2017 XTERRA Malta and Cyprus Champ Brigitta Poor of Hungary pulled away on the bike but was reeled in by Ladina Buss and Helena Erbenova on the run. Ultimately, it was Erbenova who pulled away on the final downhill to break the tape first in 2:43:39, less than 20 seconds in front of Poor, with Buss coming in close behind for third. The top three women all finished within a minute of each other.