By Gregory - Track and News
Link : http://www.trackandnews.fr/2014/11/natureman-2014-faire-du-triathlon-au-paradis/
There are some races that affect you and worth the price of several weeks of training... Unforgettable moments, incredible landscapes and images that only nature could provide… Let us immerse into the Natureman triathlon, one of those events that leaves no one indifferent...
Following many difficulties and a bike accident, I decided to ward the bad luck off by participating in a late-season race, just to be finisher and to put this behind me. Many athletes extolled me the merits of the Natureman triathlon. On July I took the road to go and check the reputation of this young race. 1h30 later we arrived at Les Salles-sur-Verdon, a small village nestled between the lake and the Alps, very easy to find and access. Later on from the road we have a splendid view over the turquoise water lake. We get on our bike for 4 hours race (Yes, we take our time!) to analyse all the difficulties of the course and to enjoy the unique landscape at the same time. In this wonderful setting, nature itself contributes to your wellness : view of the lake, charm of Provence's villages, the fragrance of lavander... nothing but hapiness ! The race seems to be a challenge on paper, but in fact it turns out very accessible. Hills are rather short. Well, it's decided, I subscribe !
The first contact has been established by phone. Eric Amatteis, in charge of the organization is very responsive. I discovered a passionate man, in love with the region and especially aware and proud of the important work done by the group of volunteers. He was very attentive to the philosophy of T&N, and even offers me an accommodation for my participation to the race. I suggested to cover his upcoming event with a photographer.
Eric insisted on keeping the "Natureman's spirit" : a race in the greatest respect for nature, and a team composed by volunteers and organizers, who listen carefully runners needs and demands. He wanted the Natureman to be a race at the service of the athletes within the greatest respect for nature. This natural side even asks each partner to engage in a "planet-friendly" project. For example, every products proposed are "organic" (such as Power Punch products). You won't find sodas, but local products … This is making me hungry ! I totally agree with this concept ! Can't wait for the 5th October !
Saturday is “Ekiden by L'Occitane” day !
I left Toulon very (TOO MUCH!) early, with one of my athletes, MichelI, to see the start of the sprint distance triathlon, to encourage friends and immerse myself in the atmosphere. After crossing the Verdon Canyon windows fully open to enjoy the setting, we arrived at Aiguines with a birds-eye view of the lake reflecting the rising sun shining in the morning mist.... but it didn't last...
The “Ekiden by L'Occitane” race emphasises the discovery side of triathlon, which makes the atmosphere very electric ! We can see some mountain bikes and wonderful flight time trial machines competing at the same race. Distances are affordable and the small hill of Aiguine has just enough difficulties to give flavour to those who wanted to experiment the joys (and challenges) of this triathlon.
Matthieu Bajar won the race after 500m swimming, 25 km cycling and 5 km running with a time of 1 hour 08 min, followed by Richard Sumpter and Manuel Giordano. On the women side, Kathy Ronin-Chabannes had a wonderful race in 1 hour 26min followed by Anne-Lise Meisenburg and Caroline Jezequel-Cochet.
We stroll a few hours on the well organised Expo Village, then it's time to prepare the race ! We have to find our roommates, and believe me, there are many people !
We decided to collect our start number. And then ... what can be said? With 1,200 people to manage, we are greeted with a master hand. I have rarely seen this on other races. A name problem on a bib is solved in seconds by a gentleman, who apparently is Eric's father... Chapeau!
We found some pleasant surprises on the Natureman's bag : a sweat-shirt branded "Natureman" and a "L'Occitane" bag with products (the good idea to bring a small gift at home, to compensate for the fact that we are away for the weekend).
After a restful night without stress, I wake up in a room where everyone was already ready to fight. I'll need lots of willpower. My sleeping bag is comfortable, and Morpheus made a very good job… A Bio Cake Punch Power swallowed, and we are going down to the park to take the bikes, in a moist but not rainy weather.
Great atmosphere early in the morning ! There are people everywhere, music and speaker to warm up (it's all right, I'm awake now !...), and an airship to indicate the swimming course. There is even a drone flying over the scene to film the show! The atmosphere is good in the park, and less heavy than other races. It may be influenced by the “end of season effect”. When I see everybody heading to the start I slowly realized that the race will start ... I (finally) start to set the mood.
The temperature of the water is pleasant, but I don't even want to get into the water. I get gradually in it : first with my arms and legs. Girls start slightly before men. Through dance and sing, girls are giving the starting signal ! It clearly shows the cheerful and festive atmosphere of the race.
It's up to men to position on the start line... The line is large and the way straight enough not to be too much under pressure. Ready, set ...GO ! A large part of the guys closes the gap with the slowest girls.
Time to take the plunge !
4, 3, 2, 1…. Go ! The washing machine turns on, the start of the 900 swimmers is impressive! The water is at the perfect temperature! It is quite difficult to see in water because the turbulence of my 899 friends caused too much foam! But nothing disturbing, guys who fear the rush have ample opportunity to swim on the side without lengthen the distance. We swam almost 2000m. Transitions are well organised! Almost lightning fast and get started for the bike ride.
La petite reine
Right from the beginning it goes up to the village, just to whet our appetite! I chose a classic bike because I have gotten my new bike CLM Myrock only for 15 days and I haven't even find my feet. I start out finding the right rhythm and then lose at least many positions in the ranking, despite my admiration for this race, it begins to reach my ego. It was just after the first difficulty that my legs were willing to work normally again... At last, less gently !
After another small hill, most of my runners mate, who passed me, gave me the impression that it was easy as a pie ... That's IT !!! When the “Enfer du Sud” begins... A climb of "90%" on 1.5 km, my thighs are already screaming… I was glad to have a compact cranks… But what a pleasure to cross the Valensol plateau, even without lavender, a real delight !
The only downside of the race was to run during 25 km behind a group of 20 guys drafting... Even if I'm not challenging for the first places due to my level (to say the least), it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth, when I see some guys cheating on a voluntary and conscious way. Never mind, the rain comes as I am in the rise of Aiguines. I avoided the terrible shower of hail! And it's on the return that I discovered the joys of “the aquatic cycling”. Impressive ! Without injuries and scratches (and standing on my brakes) I rallied the arrival... 92 km after ... I followed a zigzag path that extended the distance.
I recommend without a doubt to take a flight time trial bike, to help you climbing easily the 3 major hills of the course. Be sure to test it during your preparation ! It's far from Arturo Brachetti's performance that I change my shoes to go running my half marathon !
One kilometre by foot wears your shoes out for good
I finally arrived on third position, just behind Zamora...(almost !) in the middle of the rank in which I start my 21 km of Trail. The path is wonderful, besides a small hill of 200 meters in mid-terms, with a very high percentage, and another one of 100m at the end, the rest is a succession of more or less flat stretches. For this race, road shoes are more than sufficient and won't be mistreated. I overtake a few runners and finally fall in the ranking. It is through a huge crowd supporting us, despite the bad weather, that I run my final meters. It's always an euphoric, generous, and very satisfying feeling to cross the finish line. I enjoyed...
A protected park had been set up for the runners after the race with plenty of tasty food such as sandwich, local yogurt … nothing was missing! The results of the race are printed directly and it begins to debrief. I saw you there, you passed me here ... For my part I wouldn't last long because the rain comes back and I'm beginning to be cold.
On the pros side
Marcel Zamora finished in first place in 4 h 14 '58'' front of Mike Aigroz and Andrej Vistica. Charlotte Morel in great shape ends first women in 4 hours 47, ahead Alexandra Louison, ambassador of the event who kindly answered an interview for T & N. Joanne Duval finished at the 3rd position.
The race to do?
We had a great weekend at the Natureman triathlon. The village is welcoming and the organizing team did an almost perfect job. Volunteers stayed under the rain a large part of the race to continue to cheer on the athletes ! Hard to believe that it's only the 3rd edition as this race seems well established.
Part of the profit is allocated for the purchase of medical equipments for a disabled child, whose father shared his very moving story during the press conference. It merits every respect.
Foods and drinks on aid stations are generous and frequent. You can find bottles of water or "isso" drinks for example. Speaking of food, I advise you to taste the dishes of "La Plancha" the day before the race ... believe me, yum yum … Its' delicious ! Hard to find a weakness in the organization... They may need to check next year if the "sun" has been well ordered !
It's a race I'm sure you will love.
Translated from French by Julie Blot