Salim and Arnaud. They have shared so much over the years, were is the Animal? He has nothing left in his legs and told Salim to go. 17:50, 17:55, 17:56, 17:57 Arnaud appears. 3 minutes left before the cut off time! He looks like a dead man walking. But make no mistake, he is no quitter, he never has been, it’s just not in his nature. Respect! He does not want to stop, he knows if he does he will not be able to stand back up. He knows how to squeeze the last drop of energy from his body!
Joe steps in as Running Crew support for the last 22km. Full of smiles, Joe must be a refreshing support in this still miserable conditions with rain and wind.
An hour later they get to the top of the ascent. They continue on the flat and Arnaud catches up with them! He found some juice as Salim was slurring his words and was getting imprecise with his footsteps. His turn to focus if he wants to finish this challenge.
Like in any endurance sport, you will hit a wall! Are you strong enough to demolish it? Climb it? Find a way around it? Or will you stop? Myriam and I head for a nice glass of champagne and cocktail drink.
They take over 4 hours to complete this section and we meet them a few hundred metres from the finish line. They are all smiles, the pride already oozes from their eyes. They have made it!! They are CELTMEN! X-tri – One of the three worldwide most extreme long distance triathlon. We are humbled.
Epilogue: 156 finishers, 12 DNF (Did Not Finish) and 1 possible disqualification. Arnaud lies on the floor and is wasted. Time to head back to our B&B. It’s 1:00 am, 23 hours non-stop, time for a well deserved rest. Salim progression stats, not for the faint hearted: 1/2 IronMan, 1 DNF Ironman, 1 Ironman, 1 Extreme Triathlon…what’s next? Stay tuned!
As we jump out of the car to refuel Salim and bring him his energy bars, we realise how harsh the conditions are out there. The rain combined with high winds gives us an immediate chill.
We jump back in the car and realise that its not going to be easy.The road starts to climb and from time to time Salim is pushed to the edge of the road by the gusts. A few centimetres more and his race would be over and we would be heading for the nearest First Aid point.
He is slowing down and so is everybody else.
There is no way he is going to make the Blue shirt cut off point. Unbeknown to us the Blue Mountain pass had been closed. The weather too dangerous and the visibility reduced to very little.
Salim is hurting, we feel for him. “Myriam pass me some crisps!”
He catches up with Arnaud – a serious triathlete who must of done most of the major events around the world.
From time to time it stops raining but generally, the conditions worsen. The road keeps climbing, the hours pass – 9 hours on the bike!- and we wonder whether they will even finish.
Second transition Bike to Run; they are tired.
They need to make the next 18 km through mud, rivers and rocky terrain before 18:00. That’s 2 hours flat!
The support team goes for a coffee, we must leave our athletes by themselves for this section of the run. There is no communition with them. We worry that at this stage they will DNF by not making the cut off. We head towards the meeting point and wait in the cold rain.
The minutes pass…17:30, 35, 40, 45…Salim appears without Arnaud!
2 am time to wake up. It’s dark, cold and the midges are out.
3 am, we head with the car towards a small hamlet in Scotland.
The organisers have done a great job, quick and efficient. Our athletes jump on a coach under the cheers of hundreds of supporters.
This is it: a gruelling day of hard labor is about to start. The view is is great though!
A swim of 3.4km in the deep freezing sea to start the day properly at 5:00am. Surprisingly the first athletes come out in good shape. This is deceiving. Some cannot even stand up, nor can they get any heat back into their body. The warming aluminum blankets don’t even help.
Salim comes out after 1h15min and makes his way on the black carpet, flanked by fire pits with a Celtic band playing their hearts out. We are extatic, this is the time needed for the coveted Blue Tshirt, the one that differentiates the Extreme athletes from the complete nutters!
The Support Crew is at hand for T1 (Swim to Bike transition) and 18min later he is already biking. We jump in the car and try to find him back on the windy single track road.
The bike course seem quite easy. Salim overtakes a few bikers. We are laughing and joking, eating crisps and drinking juice in the comfort of the heated Support car: “Come on Salim, Attack!” We calculate what it would take to get to the finish line, extrapolate his current speed as if he could sustain this rhythm for another 10, 12, 14 hours!
The Athlete: Salim ‘the Dreamer’, an Ironman from Morocco looking for the next extreme challenge.
Centred around the stunning Torridon mountains we will take you on an adventure unlike any other.