Breathtaking scenery. Dizzying heights. A spectacular competition. Our Ambassador, Lukas Rathgeber, took part in the Inferno Triathlon in Switzerland. The name says it all and the challenge is not for the faint-hearted. With its 5,500 meters of ascent, the competition amidst beautiful nature is one of the toughest triathlons in the world.
Luke tells us how he experienced the inferno.
Your last major project was the Race around Rwanda last January. What has happened to you since then?
After Rwanda, I enjoyed the long Swiss winter on cross-country skis and made big plans for the Transcontinental in summer. But in May, it was clear that the race would be cancelled again this year because of Covid. At that time, I went jogging and swimming again for fun. My fascination for Triathlon was never completely extinguished. It wasn't long until I decided to get back into the Triathlon business. I never followed through with it. My last Triathlon was in August 2018. Accordingly, the start of structured running and swimming training was quite hard at first, but I was super motivated by the registration for the Inferno Triathlon in August. In June, I took part in the first edition of DeadEnds&Cake.
Why exactly did you go for the Inferno Triathlon ?
This is one of the toughest and most traditional triathlons you can do. Chasing times only plays a minor role. The whole race is an adventure! With its 5500HM, a section on the MTB and the finish at 2900m, the day demands everything from you. It's like leaving your comfort zone and going into the unknown. It's these races that fascinate me the most at Triathlon . When you don't ask yourself the question before the start: how fast will I be? but: will I even make it to the finish? In addition, the race is much smaller and more familiar than one of the big races and then there's the view all day long!
What was your preparation like?
As I said, I only started swimming and running again in May. You can't expect miracles in 3 months and I tried to train all 3 sports consistently, plus I went running in the mountains as often as possible. The Inferno was supposed to be my re-entry with a focus on fun and less result-oriented. Which worked out pretty well in the end.
What goes through your mind during a competition (and any other challenge)?
A lot! From fuck this to fuck yeah. As is always the case, you have your ups and downs throughout the day. I usually have a certain song that I listen to often before the race and try to sing along to it inside during the tough moments to distract myself from the pain. As long as you keep going, the next high is bound to come. You learn over time how to trick your head and create a positive momentum again. It also always helps me to remember to have fun, even if it's super hard at the time. The hardest moments were on the second half up to Kleine Scheidegg on the MTB and during the run from KM5 to KM9. It was just far too hot, far too steep, and the force of gravity too great. From then on, only Coke helped. Known everywhere as a magic potion.
What did you take away from Inferno Triathlon ?
The hardest races are the best! Successful re-entry! Super happy with the way the race went. An absolute bucket list race completed! The feeling when you cross the finish line at 2900m can't be compared to anything else. I can really recommend this race to anyone who likes living on the edge!
Now, I can't wait to keep working hard and get back on the starting lines. There is still a lot to do before I am competitive again. There will definitely be more adventure triathlons of this kind to come... and maybe an ultra cycling event or two.