January 2009 - Duathlon - Long, Olympic & Sprint distance

Schiniathlon Multirama Challenge - 25/01/09
The big day for 260 athletes -
The flow of athletes coming in to Moraitis started at 8 o’clock under a cover of menacing clouds. The transition area was fitted with bike racks ready to welcome the expected 300 athletes. Never before had so many athletes turned up to a duathlon event in Greece, and never before was there such a choice of distances. This was gonna be an experience for many.
Among the traditional last-minute preparations, a significant number of athletes realised, a few minutes before the start, that they did not have safety-pins or belts to attach their BIB numbers! An improvised BIB-rescue office was set-up, with athletes sticking their numbers on their shirts with tape, or building belts with pieces of ropes…
The race briefing was another last minute surprise. Despite the amount of information communicated to all, with maps and details of the course, it seems that a lot of athletes were absolutely unaware of what they were supposed to do! More than 60% of the athletes had never before taken part in a du/triathlon. Race briefing was short and to the point… everybody was eager to just start off…
The routes of the event would be taking the athletes inside the pine-tree forest of Schinias, with amazing sights of the sea, running on hard sand. There would also be a passage, for the athletes of the long and medium distance, inside the Ethnik Park of Schinias, among a vast field surrounded by the mountains. The bike route was set up outside and inside the Rowing Centre of Schinias, a perfect flat race for speed with beautiful views all along.
The start was organised in 3 waves, so as to avoid a bottle-neck of 230 athletes inside the forest. First wave of athletes passed the Start line at 10:00 sharp, the 73 blue numbers of Long distance athletes. Two minutes after the red wave of 56 Medium distance athletes departed. And they were followed two minutes after by the yellow wave of 77 Sprint distance athletes. The 30 children would have to wait until all the adults have returned before they can start their race.
The first athletes to return from the sprint distances were a bit later than expected, due to the strong wind which was sweeping the bike course. In 1h25mn, Christos Voutselas crossed the line clear of his opponents, Grigoris Kaperonis who was more than 3 minutes behind him and Dimitris Karakostas in 1h30mn. 
Natasha Giannousi won the women’s category in her first attempt at a duathlon in 1h42mn, a very good debut. 
There were a lot of first-timers at the Sprint Distance, not quite experienced, some of them riding mountain bikes. The sprint athletes were lucky enough to finish the race with no drops of rain.
This was not the case of the Medium distance race. The rain invited itself as special-guest with no warning whatsoever, defying all forecasts which were giving an all-clear for the area. Dimitris Balatakos crossed the line in 2hr13mn, with Kostas Papanikolaou on his heels, 30 seconds behind. These two athletes did a fantastic performance with amazing split times and they were both attempting this distance for the first time. Vassilis Goulas came third in 2hr18mn.
Milena Michopoulou dominated the womens’ category, crossing the line in an amazing 2hr44mn. Keeping in mind that Milena’s strong point is the swim… she is gonna give the guys some trouble at the May triathlon!
The Corporate Challenge was one other novelty of the event, which consisted of a team-relay over the medium distance event. One employee was racing the first 5km run, passing the relay to the 2nd employee to race the 40km bike, and the final relay went to the 3rd employee. 10 Companies were represented. BNCycling won the 1st position, followed by P.E.P.A in 2nd place and CITI BANK in 3rd position.
With the rain now pouring in gently, it was the turn of the long distance athletes to start returning home. Chronis Drougias stood up to the high expectations which were on him, and he displayed amazing strength and speed throughout the event. Chronis passed the finish line in 3hr08mn, 25 seconds clear of Panos Christodoulopoulos, himself followed by Christos Mavrikios 3 seconds after. This was a very close finish for an event of such a distance. Chronis won at a sprint finish after more than 3 hours of racing in the legs. It gives an indication of how much fighting these three must have had on the way, both on the bike and on the run!
Loukia Loukopoulou defended her title in style, clocking in at 3hr27mn, a great display of endurance and speed, finishing among the best men.
The remainder of the athletes made their way back to the finish line under the rain. A tent was waiting for them with the traditional post-race buffet, free beer and the delicious Indian Curry of rice and chicken from Taj Nahal. The band was playing music under-cover outside the transition area, so the athletes could chill out and relax.
At 2:30pm sharp, under the pouring rain, in the car-park area of Moraitis, full of puddles and mud… 30 children were packed by the start line, wearing their bike helmets (to gain time at transition?) and sprinted off to the first run. They came back as exhausted as if they’d run a marathon, and jumped on their bikes in a very disorderly manner. Coming back socking wet from the rain and the splashes in the puddles, they went for their final run. 
Ismael Nikolaou won the 12-16 years-old race. Alex Argyris came first of the 8-10 years-old category. And Marianna Kletsas won the 4-7 years-old race.
The trophies ceremony took place at 3:00pm under the shelter of Moraitis’ bar area, by the beach. Multirama, who now is the Series-sponsor of Schiniathlon, gave hardware gifts to the winners of each category. Printers, MP3 and mobile phones were handed over to the delight of the athletes. Kraft offered chocolate bags to all the kids.
This has been a long day for all the athletes and organisers alike. The crew of volunteers and red-cross Samaritans stayed under the rain until 3pm, when the last athlete finished the long-distance. From 8 o’clock, they had been on their feet and supporting the race for 7 hours non-stop and this is a remarkable effort.
We would like to say a huge THANK YOU to all the athletes, for their achievement on Sunday, despite the adverse weather conditions. And rendez-vous in May, for our Spring Triathlon!
To eqse the organisation, we have decided that the May event would take place over 2 days. 
Saturday will be the feast of the Sprint distance and the kids, as well as Corporate Team-Relay over the Sprint distance (750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run).
Sunday will be the day of the Long distance athletes, with an early start, as well as a Corporate Team-Relay over the Long distance (1500m swim, 60km bike, 10km run).
Rendez-vous in May for a week-end of sports and fun!
Sportively yours, 
The Schiniathlon Organisation Team

Schiniathlon video

Short story of Schininathlon, the classic triathlon event at Schinias bay, Athens, Greece"

Video shot during Schiniathlon events of 2011 and produced by Transition Sports