In Pictures: The Ironmen of Costa Navarino

Athletes from all over the world took part in Greece's first Ironman challenge this week in Messinia. Here's what it looked like.

On Monday, April 15th, the first Ironman 70,3 triathlon to ever take place in Greece was held with great success. Taking place at Costa Navarino, in the Messinia region of the Peloponnese, it was the biggest triathlon, as well as the biggest bike race, and the biggest open water swimming competition ever held in the country.

The Ironman 70,3 is half the length of the original Ironman challenge, which was founded in Hawaii in 1978 and covers a total of 140,6 miles.

The Ironman 70,3 Greece comprised a 1,9 km swim in the Ionian Sea, a 90 km cycling route, which took the athletes on two laps through ancient olive groves, and a half marathon, passing by the famous Voidokilia Beach (aka Omega Beach) and the protected wetland of the Gialova Lagoon. The cutoff time was 8,5 hours.

Everyone who passed the finish line before the cut-off time earned the right to call themselves an Ironman (or Ironwoman), but, of course, extra glory went to the winners: Juliana Villasante from Mexico and Ernesto Espinoza from Costa Rica.

Greek athletes also had outstanding races; Grigoris V. Souvatzoglou and Dimitris Lekkos placed second and third overall respectively, and Jenny Boulmeti was the second woman to cross the finish line.

Winner Ernesto Espinoza said: “I’m very happy with today’s results. Ironman 70.3 Greece, Costa Navarino was an intense experience from every perspective. The neck-and-neck race with Grigoris Souvatzoglou, which went on until just 2 km away from the finish line, was a tough but friendly battle that I managed to win”.

The 50 athletes who were first to pass the finish line of Ironman 70,3 Greece, Costa Navarino qualified to race in the Ironman 70,3 World Championship, to be held in Nice, France, in September.

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