Stunning backdrops. 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 of heart. The competition in beautiful nature is one of the toughest triathlons in the world with its 5,500 meters of ascent.
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. In May, however, it was clear that the race would also be canceled this year due to Covid. At the time, I was jogging and swimming again for fun. My fascination with triathlon never died out completely. It didn't take long before I decided to get back into the triathlon business. I never did that consistently. My last triathlon was in August 2018. Accordingly, getting started with structured running and swimming training was pretty hard at first, but I was super motivated by registering for the Inferno Triathlon in August. In June I took part in the first DeadEnds&Cake event.
Why exactly did you decide to do the Inferno Triathlon?
This is one of the toughest and most traditional triathlons you can do. The hunt for times only plays a subordinate role. The whole race is an adventure! With its 5500 meters of altitude difference, a section on the MTB and the goal at 2900m, the day demands everything from you. It's like stepping out of your comfort zone into the unknown. It's these races that fascinate me the most in triathlon. If you don't ask yourself the question before you 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 this view all day long!
What was your preparation like?
As I said, I only started swimming and running again in May. Don't expect miracles in 3 months and I've tried to be consistent in all 3 sports including running in the mountains as much as possible. The Inferno was supposed to be my comeback with a focus on fun and less results-oriented. Which turned out to be pretty good in the end.
What goes through your mind during a competition like this (and any other challenge)?
some! From fuck this to fuck yeah. As always, you have your ups and downs throughout the day. Usually I have a certain song that I listen to a lot before the race and I try to sing it to myself in the hard moments to distract myself from the pain. As long as you keep going, the next high is bound to come. Over time you learn how to trick your head and create positive momentum again. It also always helps me to remind myself to have fun, even when it's super hard right now. I had the toughest moments on the second half up to Kleine Scheidegg with the MTB and during the run from KM5 to KM9. it was just way too hot, way too steep and the gravity too strong. From then on, only Coke helped. Well known as a magic potion.
What did you take with you from the Inferno Triathlon?
The toughest races are the best! Re-entry successful! Super happy with the race how it went. Completed an absolute bucket list race! The feeling when you reach the finish line at 2900m cannot be compared to anything else. I can really recommend this race to everyone who likes extreme experiences!
Now I can't wait to keep working hard and get back on the starting lines. There's still a lot to do before I'm competitive again. More adventure triathlons of this kind will definitely follow... and maybe one or the other ultra cycling event.