Vincent Very: “I’ve always wanted to climb the Stelvio”

My Story started in October 2015 after being unlucky to Celtman lottery, a mysterious announcement on Facebook called my attention. Something called Icon, after seeing the course and some nice videos I decided to subscribe. Climbing Stelvio was something I always would like do, being on the traces of Fausto Coppi and more recently Thomas de Gent who won under the snow what a nice feeling. So now it’s time for training…

After 120km swimming, 7500km biking, 1000km running and a wonderful training camp in Livigno I am now at the start of the Icon Livigno Xtreme Triathlon. Swim start is at 5:30 totally in the dark, water temperature is not really cold. No fight during the first meters every participant try to aim the fires made by the organization. After about 30 minutes, it becomes lighter and U-turn buoy can be clearly seen. The last 2km are straight line to the beach.

My brother Guillaume is here, helps me to get up and then to dress me for the bike. I have my hands so cold due to the air temperature that I can’t do anything, he is doing everything. It is winter clothes: leg warmer, long vest, and long gloves. First kilometers are quite fast trying to warm me up, the same for the 2 first passes. After the long downhill from Passo del Bernina, it is the Engadin Valley which is the fastest part of the bike with normally back wind. Unfortunately, it is not the case and big fog is present avoiding to see anything of the beautiful landscape. It is now time to climb the third pass, Passo del Fuorn and temperatures become much warmer. At the top, I stop remove the warm clothes and eat a sandwich, it is good to have salty food. 40km downhill and slight downhill it comes the Stelvio, I start to climb by checking my heart rate and my power but legs are quite good. I overtake my friend Giuseppe and other participants, it is a good sign. Finally after 24km and 48 hairpin turns I am at the top, it is time for a short break taking some food and changing clothes for the downhill. Downhill is fast and also technical due to the hairpin turns but it is nice to recover a little bit. Here comes the last climb, Passo del Foscagno, it is not so hard but I know it is a key point of the course and you really have to manage your effort so I keep an eye on my bike computer.

After a small downhill it is T2, after about 9 hours on the saddle sitting on a chair is really good. Guillaume is still here to help me changing clothes and taking some food. It’s now time to run; I decide to run at good level but not too fast. The first part of the run is a downhill in the wood, it is important to pay attention where your feet are and also to keep your muscles in good condition. The flat part on the bike track is now coming and I can accelerate a little bit. Unfortunately at about kilometer 20 I feel that I have no force, hypoglycemia is here. I take 3 gels at the same time and start walking. In the meantime one participant overtake me, he really has a nice stride it is not possible to follow him. Anyway climbing will start soon and due to the slope it will be difficult to everybody to run so I decide to continue with my own tempo. After about one kilometer climbing, Guillaume joins me, he decided to anticipate the supporter meeting point. It is really good for me, I have someone for doing the pacing and also for discussing.

We arrive at T3, take the backpacks and the poles and start climbing the last ten kilometers. Poles are very useful and help to relieve the leg. About 4 kilometer to go it is now dark so we decide to put the headlamp to continue, slope becomes harder we are on a black ski track. The speed is now very low but I can see light from the finish line it is a good focus. Some meters to go and organizers prepare us a surprise, I have never climbed something so hard but with legs, hands and a lot will finally we cross the finish line by listening the speaker says “Congratulation!!! You’re an Icon”. After thanking my family for their help, the race director Matteo informs me that I finish 8th. It is a good result for me, I’m really happy. I also congratulate and thank him and the organization team for this race, everything was perfect.

The next day, it’s time for the ceremony and having some beers with family, friends and other participants. After the lunch we receive our finisher T-shirt.

I’d like to conclude by thanking all Icon organizers and volunteers for the wonderful days I spent in Livigno area. I push all triathlete to try Icon Livigno Xtreme Triathlon by themselves and see you at Icon 2017.

 

Vincent Very, Finisher 2016