Behind the scenes: January 2010

2010 is starting on a roller-coaster that is taking unprecedented and unrealistic proportions. 

Guided by motives which are, to this date, only known to itself, the National Federation starts the year with a willingness to stop by all means any race that we have in our calendar. Starting with January 2010. 

Our calendar plans for a sprint triathlon on the Saturday, followed by a sprint & olympic duathlons on the Sunday. Hundreds of athletes have signed up, expectations are high. Unbeknownst to us, the National Federation has started a campaign. 

In the first few days of the year, faxes have been sent to: traffic police, municipal police, mayor & vice-mayor, port authorities. The content of the faxes is uniform: Schiniathlon has no legitimity to organise races, only the National Federation is authorised by Law to organise races of triathlon, duathlon and variations of thereof on the national territory, Schiniathlon must be stopped by all means. The fax also mentions that our races are dangerous and not following any safety standards. 

Of course, as you would expect upon receiving such a fax, the reaction of the authorities is strong and unanimous: they inform us one by one that they are withdrawing their support to our race, and that the police will come... not to support us, but rather to block the event from taking place. 

Schiniathlon is cornered. What to do? We do not have time to try and analyse the motives of the National Federation, the priority is to find a way to rescue the January race - out of respect for the hundreds of athletes who have signed up and trained for the race. From all over the country. 

Negotiations with the authorities lead nowhere, they all act like their hands are tied behind their backs. When we start to think there is no more hope, an unlikely support emerges... the Prime Minister himself... 

The Prime Minister at this time (G. Papandreou) is known for visiting the race area (Schinias Bay, Moraitis resort) for an occasional swim and a run in the pine-tree forest. He has taken an interest in the races although never attended any. Hearing from an informed athlete the threats facing Schiniathlon, he offers to relay our cry for help. Less than 72hrs before the race, we receive a phone call from the Cabinet of the Prime Minister, informing us the event will take place under due supervision of the police and that we should not worry. 

Stunning... This is 2010, the country is plunged into a financial catastrophe that has no precedent, and here comes the Cabinet of the PM, taking time and efforts to ensure our triathlon & duathlon will take place in all safety... As much as we are thankfull for this miraculous support, we can't help but think that things are going seriously wrong... 

On race day, we are greeted by a large convoy of police cars and motorbikes, the largest we've ever had... and they are all here to secure the roads for us and ensure all goes fine in all safety...

We fear for the months to come!!

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