Xterra Italy – made in the Abruzzo, made in Scanno. It’s always special drive up to this beautiful village in the mountains. Great people, lovely landscape, nice food and one of the toughest race courses are waiting. As the race organisers proudly announce „Either you can or you can’t. For those who can’t Ironman is made for.“ Somehow true – as the race is known to be a true test for body and mind.
The day we arrived we were greeted by our lovely hotel manager Costanza – our host for almost a week. Costanza is an amazing chef and also the „Mamma“ for all the athletes who stay at Hotel Roma.
After checking into our rooms, we went for a prerun. The course wasn’t marked yet, but I was pretty confident to remember all the up- and downhills from last year… and I did. Until a huge thunderstorm put our little Italian adventure to an abrupt halt. Soppy and a bit worried about the lightning we sought shelter under a porch roof. Suddenly the door opened and we were asked inside by a lovely couple, provided with bath towels, hair dryers, leather slippers, coffee and biscuits and a taxi ride home. We were speechless about the hospitality! Thanks again to Amedeo and Rosanna Filipi!
The next day the Alohas and their entourage went for a preride. Same course as 2014. Steep uphills and challenging downhills. Always good to have time to check out the most difficult sections calmly as this brings confidence for race day.
After the mandatory thunderstorm in the afternoon we had a little team photo shooting down by the lake. One is for sure – the Alohas are not made for being photo models, as standing still ist not our favourite pastime. And we aren’t talented synchronised swimmers either – we are better in swimming, riding and running and having a coffee after that 😉
Then race day came and with it the only day without rain in the whole week. This meant that we had to prepare for a race in the heat. Nothing new this year! Putting the Camelbak into the freezer is always a good idea when temperatures rise over 30 degrees. Simple… but a huge difference.
The 1500 m swim took place in the heart shaped lake below Scanno. The water was clear and comfortably warm. However wetsuits were allowed. During the swim Renata and I missed the fast feet of our team mate Betta by a few seconds, but managed to come into T1 with the chase pack.
As biking is not my strongest leg, I had to let the other athletes go right after transition. Always a bit frustrating – but I know these girls work really hard to be that fast!
The bike course consists of 2 laps. A 18k lap with 850m of climbing, followed by a shorter lap with another 450m of climbing. During both laps the athletes ride up and down the stairs of Scanno where epic photos are being taken. The first long descent on the ski slope is known as the „break fluid boiler“… the name says it all: steep, fast downhills with sharp twists and turns. A test for your skills, courage and your brakes.
Most of the time I was riding together with Italian age group athletes as there were no other girls around. But they were great company whilst trying to pronounce my name correctly 😉
After the steep up- and downhills on the bike course the run course is no picnic either. A challenging 10k run with 500m of climbing in it is waiting. Again the athletes run or hike up the stairs of Scanno, after a very steep uphill a technical downhill with ankle twisting roots is luring. Towards the end of the run the athletes are rewarded with beautiful views over Scanno and the heart shaped lake. For me it is always amazing to see how much you can run up in a short period of time. During the last kilometre the tunes of DJ Giacomo’s music encourage you to cross the finish line with a huge smile on your face.
I was happy to reach T2 without a crash or a mechanical, as anything can happen during the bike leg. As I like running I always look forward to the last part of the race. Just before Scanno I could finally see another female athlete in front of me. It was Sabina Rzepka from Poland… a short hello and encouragement from both sides and off I went. I was enjoying the run as good as possible, knowing that I was in the top ten. During the second uphill Olga Parfinenko caught me and I tried to stay with her, but she was too fast. After a long and hard race I was able to cross the finish line in 7th position. Happy to hear that Helena Erbenova had won, Carina Wasle came in second and Aloha team mate Betta Curridori got third. Renata Bucher got 4th just after winning the European Champs one week ago. Franziska Peier got 2nd in her age group. What a team result! Proud of the team effort and especially of our little rock star Betta. There is more to come!
For me Scanno is one of the coolest races I know – a true test for mind and body in a beautiful environment. Mille Grazie to Wolf and his team of volunteers for making this possible.
The biggest thanks go to the Alohas for sharing the dream and to our support crew Max and Rollie, without whom this wouldn’t be possible.