Training buddies accomplish ‘alternative’ Challenge Almere-Amsterdam

7:30 am, the sun is rising above the Weerwater and six triathletes at the beginning of a very special challenge: completing CHALLENGEALMERE-AMSTERDAM. Not the Long Distance – although for some this was the goal – but on the ‘real course’ to experience the beauty this race brings every year.

This happened last Saturday, but a few days earlier Harm-Jan Stuut, Erik-Jan Thalen, Franciska Schutter, Sylvia van Breda, Yanni Zwaagman and Klaas Zwaagman already wrote to the organisation to tell that they were planning this Challenge. A nice goodiebag was prepared by the organisation and so on Saturday, in the early morning, they could start with a 3.8 kilometer swim. “I had already planned my season,” says Klaas Zwaagman. “I would race Hamburg, but my A-race for this season would definitely be CHALLENGEALMERE-AMSTERDAM. When corona struck, I was just more motivated to keep training. Last year I wasn’t able to race neither, so I was very eager to race a Long Distance this year.”

Zwaagman looks back on an unpleasant period: at the beginning of last year he broke his hip after a crash on his mountain bike and the aftermath was enormous. Operations and months of rehabilitation followed and that season – then also with Hamburg and Almere on his schedule – was lost. “In the beginning I still had the arrogance to think I could race in September, but the doctor told me right away that this wouldn’t work. He was right: it was only at the end of last year that I could start to build up trainings a bit again.”

Challenge Almere-Amsterdam as a frame of reference

When the training sessions were picked up again, the ambitions remained. But then corona struck, Hamburg was rescheduled and his plans had to be changed again. “But it wasn’t a question for me: I wanted to race Almere anyway. CHALLENGEALMERE-AMSTERDAM was my first race – in 2015 – and with this race as a frame of reference, it’s very difficult for other races to equal. As a young boy I already cheered for my father, who competed in the early years in Almere. Then I knew: I want to do this race myself. And once I had done that, I wanted to do it more often. This race is really fantastic: the organization, the volunteers, the course, the supporters”.

Last Saturday the six of them of course ‘raced’ on the same course as where CHALLENGEALMERE-AMSTERDAM is held every year, a number of people from the organization came to watch and encourage and there were also family and friends to support, but of course the ‘real ambiance’ wasn’t there. “Still, we had a great day. The charm of CHALLENGEALMERE-AMSTERDAM was unmistakable”.

In the end most of the six participants did a 3.8km swim and 180km bike. Some of them did a 10km run, others did a 14km or 21km run. “We didn’t want to make it too crazy, we also suffered some minor injuries. We’d rather stay fit now and come for the race in September.”