The Manx Xtreme Triathlon is an event shrouded in mystery. A visit to the event’s website shows a video showcasing the island’s wild landscape. A wetsuit clad athlete swims through the Irish sea and runs panting across a sandy beach. A geared-up cyclist speeds along the top of a cliff edge on a state-of-the-art bike. Finally, a runner climbs up a steep hill-side cloaked in mist…
Stuart McInnes, a member of the team promoting the event, tells me why they picked the island: “the Isle of Man isn’t the usual suspect for an event like this, usually they’d be hosted somewhere mountainous like the Alps, but it’s so lumpy and bumpy. We thought this is perfect. It would be ideal for having a crazy event”.
So, the Island fits the bill, but what does the event actually offer? Why is it so Xtreme in title and price tag at a steep £350 entry fee? Well, a quick download of the race manual (a compulsory pre-requisite for anyone hoping to enter) gives an in-depth view of a race that would strike fear into the average athlete. It begins with a 3.8km sea swim in the Irish sea… that’s about 76 lengths of your standard Olympic sized swimming pool for those that aren’t used to measuring their swims in Kilometres. All competitors will swim through Laxey Bay to the village where they will transition for the cycle. This is not your average Sunday ride. Competitors will cycle 180km from Laxey to the Point of Ayre, climbing 3,000 metres along the way. Finally, if anyone’s survived this far, they can treat themselves to a 40km run, the last 10km of which will be up Snaefell. The race ends at Snaefell’s summit where competitors can celebrate… or most likely cry because they’ve got no feet left.
Evidently this is not an event for your average triathlete, and certainly not for a man such as me who is basically out of breath reading the race manual. It has earned its Xtreme title in my eyes. Despite this, McInnes is certain this event is not just for the elite, “there’s no prize money, so it’s not an event for pros in that sense. It’s for people who do the likes of Iron Man but want something a little bit different. Something without the crowds and without huge costs.”
Also, unlike your average long-distance triathlon there seems to be a heavy emphasis on the support element for the event. The manual states that all competitors must run with a support crew,
“this gives the race a different structure to an Iron Man” McInnes explains “there’s a lot more camaraderie involved than just being on your own all day”
Obviously, with the distances involved in the event, health and safety is a priority. This means that although they would like everyone to finish at the top of Snaefell, there is a cut off point beforehand for those that are too slow or not medically fit enough to reach the summit. The team are soon to return to the Island for further planning of emergency services, water safety and road safety.
The Manx race is a prospective part of the Xtri world tour, a series of these events that spreads all over the world from Norway to Montenegro. “It usually takes around 6 months to a year to get the first one up and running” McInnes says “after that it gets a little bit easier”, so it seems if all goes to plan this could be a regular feature for the Island. The Snaefell course will stand proud amongst some of the most challenging Xtriathlons in the world. Despite this, McInnes seems more concerned about the Manx reception to the event than anything else, “I hope we’re not going to annoy too many people”. In a nation of sport lovers (the more extreme the better) I don’t think that’s something the Xtri team need to worry about.
The event will take place on September 29th this year and registration is open now if you are feeling fit… I’ll probably just watch.