World Championship
in Lahti

That flat hilly route definitely won’t be easy

World Championship

Completed: August 27, 2023
Biggest challenge: To fight for another world championship title
Catchphrase: “That flat hilly route definitely won’t be easy”

Only three weeks after completing the Norseman extreme triathlon, I went for another adventure in Scandinavia – this time in the happiest country of the world, Finland. Have we won the title in the end, and come home a little bit happier? Read further to find out!

The northernmost Half-Ironman (consisting of 1.9 km swimming, 90 km cycling, and 21 km long run) was hosted by the city of Lahti, located less than an hour from Helsinki. It is said to be the gateway to Finland’s lake region, with small rivers, forests, and rocky hills (not that I could see them!).

Unfortunately, I wasn’t in the best condition, leaving for the race with a cold and a sore throat, but as soon as I stood on the starting line along with the other 4,000 competitors, I felt fit enough to face this challenge. My sports guide Marek informed me that we would be starting just a few minutes after the professional triathletes.

Although I enjoyed our first discipline – swimming in the lake – I expected a better result than the 40 minutes we ended up with. But there was no time to think about such things. “Hurry, take off your wetsuit,” Marek shouted at me as we were getting out of the water to quickly hop on our tandem bike.

“The nature here is really beautiful,” he described the Finnish landscape to me while we were cycling. This kind of undulating race track suits me because one gets a little rest on the descent before one has to start working hard again. We just had to be careful when turning or riding through the city to avoid the risk of slipping due to the wet roads.

“Most of the last part is downhill, but then there will be an ascent, so we’ll start taking our shoes off to speed it up,” Marek announced so that I knew what to prepare for.

The rain didn’t stop even during the running part. Since my eyes can only perceive (and distinguish between) light and darkness, I found it difficult to alternate between asphalt and gravel, but the undulating terrain suited my guide. “Watch out, there’s going to be a sharp run up the ramp,” he informed me to avoid tripping.

We almost got to the finish line in under 5 hours – we literally missed it by a few seconds! But we were leaving happy in the end. I won in my category and can thus claim another world champion title, and I finished second in the absolute ranking of all handicapped racers. The winner, who has a prosthetic hand, was 10 minutes faster. I have to say I highly admire people who can steer a bike with only one hand, or people who can’t use their legs and still finish the whole race. Big up!

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