On the weekend when the world restarted its one-year countdown to the Tokyo Olympics, Bahrain Endurance 13 team’s Kristian Blummenfelt won the open category at the Austrian Sprint National Championships in Wallsee.
In the first international title race to be held in Europe since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Norwegian along with more than 30 ITU athletes dealt with new health and safety rules: the race briefing was streamed online, starts were staggered with 10 seconds between each athlete, drafting was prohibited with athletes keeping 12 meters apart and passing with at least a 1.5-meter gap on the side, and water cups were laid out on tables instead of being handed directly to the athletes.
Blummenfelt started 1:01 behind the first athlete due to the 10-second start intervals. Coming out of the 750-meter swim leg in 9:51, he proceeded to the 19.75-kilometer bike course. Despite two long climbs, Blummenfelt made up time on his competitors to record the day’s second-fastest bike split (27:26) and reel in the race leaders, Gulf Daily News (GDN) reported.
By the time he began the 5-kilometre run, he already had the fastest overall time. But Blummenfelt stayed on the hunt. He caught sight of the leaders at the turnaround of the first lap and went in for the kill, overtaking to lead through the second lap. He crossed the finish line first and won the race outright with a total time of 54:02.
“It was a lot of fun. It was good to really feel the race nerves again especially like before the swim start, everyone was so supportive,” said Blummenfelt. “I’m grateful I’m allowed to take part in this race.”
Blummenfelt also raced in a team of Olympic athletes at the Austria Triathlon Jagdrennen last week. It was an experimental race format where they attempted to overcome a time handicap of 110 minutes and chase down "the hunted" Christophe Schlagbauer over the ironman distance.