One more year, the city of Calella hosts one of the most prestigious events on the international calendar for all lovers of medium and long distance triathlon: Challenge Barcelona Maresme.
Internationally recognized triathletes in this discipline come every year and without hesitation to repeat their experience in order to enjoy the test and improve their records.
But, where, when and why was “Challenge” born? Why in Spain? Who is behind all this?
TriMadrid wanted to reveal all these unknowns today. For this, we have contacted Agustí Pérez, organizer of the event who, with a very close gesture, has told us a beautiful story of its beginnings, and of how “Challenge” arrived in Spain. We hope you enjoy your reading:
· Tell me a bit about yourself. When and how did you find out about triathlon? Athlete, coach, organizer ... or all three?
I became fond of the world of Triathlon as an athlete next to my brother, I came from football, he was a good athlete and due to an injury I left athletics, to get into duathlons and triathlons at CN Montjuïc, soon after I started competing in the Banyoles Triathlon in 1994, then for years I competed in the Catalan duathlon circuit and some Spanish championship such as the Castellana, in 1998 I changed clubs and went to the CN Poble Nou, where we enjoyed a track of athletics by the sea “La Mar Bella”, which motivated us to organize that same year the 1st Duatló de Barcelona and the 1st Triatló Sprint de Barcelona with 76 participants, thus my interest was born to start organizing triathlons, me and my brother, I think we have contributed a lot to the Catalan triathlon, with innovation and quality in the tests.
We also created the Vilanova Triathlon Club, a reference club for Duathlon and Triathlon, with such prominent names as Victor Del Corral, Josemi Pérez, Naranjo brothers, Agustí Roc, Pakillo, Jordi Giménez….
6 Barcelona Sprint Triathlons, 6 Barcelona Duathlons, 1 Vilanova Duathlon Qualifier, 11 Vilanova Triathlons, 3 Barcelona Half Challenge, 2 Barcelona Challenge, 1 Montjuïc Climbing Duathlon, WP&FG 2003 Barcelona Triathlon Manager, 4 Vilanova Mountain Duathlons, collaborations in Barcelona Marathon….
· How, when and where was «Challenge» born?
In the town of Roth Germany in 1982, from its start year until 2011 the test was Ironman and European Championship, until 2002 where it broke with the brand and created its own Challenge label, without a doubt it is such an important test that it has known to resurface without depending on Ironman, as demonstrated by the excellent organization and participation year after year.
· When did you decide to bring to Spain, and how did the idea arise that Calella would host this event?
In 2006, a series of contacts were initiated for the possibility of bringing a great competition to Spain, which is why the Evolution company begins to look for a venue to try to carry out a triathlon of such magnitude, Maresme politicians travel to Roth, see the race and fall in love with the event. Calella arises due to its large hotel capacity and because a number of businessmen see the opportunity to turn the area into the world capital of triathlon since there are the ideal means to have “Training Camps” during the year and to de-seasonalize tourism, it is also believed in a district project, which demonstrates the organizational capacity of the area.
· What makes this test different so that it attracts hundreds of triathletes to participate? What is the soul of the Challenge?
I believe without a doubt that the treatment of the triathlete and media at the highest level, Challenge strives to give the best for the triathlete, and that they live an unbeatable experience, luckily the Challenge Family and its owner Félix Walshoffer try to transmit to the 13 tests that we are part of the world circuit a feeling for the incredible Triathlon.
The soul of the Challenge is represented by its logo is a heart that is how we organize things in Barcelona, putting a lot of love in what we do.
· Any news for this year?
An event like this can never stop growing and the changes are to improve the attention to the participants, improvements in the Pasta Party, change of location, in short, improve the reception of the triathlete.
At the level of triathletes, highlight the presence of Clemente Alonso who is in an exceptional moment of form, this motivates us a lot, since a Spaniard fights against French, Germans, Danes…. It can be a great show.
· Organizing a test of this level requires a large infrastructure and investment. What support from sponsors have you had?
Offering the best infrastructures, the best material, and above all cutting a National Highway II of the Coast, require a large number of material and personal resources, the organization pays even the highway of the affected towns by putting personnel by delivering tickets before each toll.
11.000 cones, 2000 fences, 10.000 meters of carpet… ..more than 500 volunteers, 100 ADF, 200 policemen… ..are just some of the data.
At the level of sponsorship, the event receives aid from the CSD, Consell Comarcal del Maresme, Obra Social de La Caixa, Calella Merchants Association, As. Turística de Calella, JACKET, High5 ... being honest, the bad economic times that everyone is going through affects us and we would need more aid for the consolidation and growth of the event.
. What would you say to a triathlete who is starting in medium / long distance to encourage him to try it?
The Challenge Costa de Barcelona-Maresme is the ideal test to debut in the distance, due to its international magnitude, treatment of the triathlete, spectacular and fast circuits completely closed to traffic, an exceptional atmosphere, the memory that triathletes who dare to participate in this test, is indelible.
We remind you from TriMadrid we raffle a dorsal for this test, you can consult the bases in this address