2015 saw the birth of Evergreen Endurance, a totally new and extremely challenging set of triathlon races taking competitors across the mountains from Morzine to Chamonix.
The big daddy of them all is the '228' km race with a 4km swim, 181km cycle and a 43km run. Then there's the '118' (2km swim / 95km cycle / 21km run) and the '58' (1.5km swim / 40km cycle / 12.5km run).
In it's first year last year, 90 people took part and there are already 165 people signed up for the 2016 edition.
It's not only a great competition, but the team behind it have always planned for it to be an ecologically friendly and responsible race to boot. At the end of this summers race, Evergreen planted a tree for every competitor in the Bois du Bouchet here in Chamonix, so that the legacy of the races and competitors lives on.
We met up with Carlton Rowlands, one of the co-founders of Evergreen, to find out how it all came about and what their plans are for the future.
Hi Carlton, Tell us a little bit about Evergreen Endurance, how it started out and how you got involved?
Evergreen Endurance is an sports events company who organise triathlons (for now just) in the Chamonix valley. Our events have a certain ruggedness running through their design, thats for sure and possibly an understatement. Yet its not by any means all we're about. Evergreen Endurance is about using endurance sport as a vehicle to exploration and adventure with very strict policies to negate our impact on the environment. It's this environmental responsibility that sets us appart from other event companies.
How did it all start...wow, seems like lifetime ago..Good friend and training partner Bruno Lebeda and I used to chat casually as we trained together about the potential to organise an Iron-distance event in Chamonix. The land of extremes offered terrain befitting of a real triathlon test! I think we were testing each other running up the col de Posettes or something similar! Then the real work came..
What is in store for the future? Any exciting projects in the pipelines that you can share with us?
Well yes, lots of big plans generally speaking; to grow and push the same environmentally respectful model of event management internationally. However more immediately, this year we're bringing into the mix the Olympic distance (Evergreen 58) to make the same beautiful challenge accessible to more athletes of mixed abilities. We've perfected the race routes to offer an even more varied and beautiful course across the board.
What do you do in summer for the time when you're not involved in this event?
I'm fully involved in trail running and every spare moment is spent in the mountains training and racing! Im also an Osteopath at La Clinique du Sport. I find the balance between working in professional sport and being directly involved in professional sport as a runner a really dynamic balance. It's fair to say I've got a lot on my plate but I never have been able to sit still for a second! (ADHD kid perhaps?!)
How can people get involved and what level of performance do they need to be at to even contemplate doing an event like this?
All event information and entries happen through our website. You need nothing other than a desire for adventure and endurance. The Olympic distance EG58 is really pretty accessible to most. It's a 1.5KM swim, 40Km Bike ride followed by a 10Km trail run, its really is not nuts at all! As for the Evergreen 228 we do have a number of selection criteria to ensure that only those who are able to complete the race safely and with adequate experience in endurance sport are permitted to compete.
How can people prepare / warm up for something like this?
It's a big question and there are a million answers depending on who you ask and what your base level might be. Come ask us at the clinic or try our partners Organicoach, headed up by Exterra World champion Nicolas Lebrun for really elite level performance coaching. There are some great online resources too.
We have some elite athletes competing that are on top sports science programs and also those just getting into it. The general premise is to raise your capacity to continue as fast as possible for a longer period, this is endurance sport after all and so fairly long and easy training sessions in each sport are a good place to start. Sessions replicating your race pace certainly help as well. Interval training can be beneficial in raising your performance level. Being able to swim freestyle or frontcrawl well (or at least OK) is a must, and some like to have swimming instruction to improve their technique. Indeed endurance sport is all about efficiency of movement. Otherwise many just get out and ride, when cycling 40km, 90km or 180km doesn't completely kill you your in a good place to enter one of our events.
Anything else you can tell us about it?
Our events have a certain ruggedness running through their design, that's for sure and possibly an understatement. Yet its not by any means all we're about. Evergreen Endurance is about using endurance sport as a vehicle to exploration and adventure.
However no doubt the most important part of what we have worked on is environmental responsibility. We have a rugged policy of carbon off-setting. We have designed our event and logistics around minimal Carbon footprints, for instance; our finisher medals were handmade out of a sustainable wood sources and brought out to Chamonix by one of our event volunteers. We also provided all finishers with an evergreen tree seedling which they could take home to plant and enjoy the memory as it grows over time. Those athletes who posted a picture to us were entitled to a significant discount on their 2016 race entry. There are plenty of other examples of how we look to excel at minimising our footprint and we have also developed a robust fundraising programme. In this way athletes can mobilise their own various social networks in order to drive fund-raising for various projects within the Mont Blanc Valley. In this way we can neutralise the effect of our event and stand as a leading light in responsible event management.
What makes Chamonix a special place to be for someone in your profession?
As an sports Osteopath working in Chamonix I can take advantage of the extreme and interesting patient demography. At the clinic we see a range of different and seasonal injuries and it always keeps me on my toes.
What are the best bits about your job?
Breakthrough moments with patients, making a real difference.
And the worst bits?
Sometimes, treatment is slower than anticipated or unsuccessful, that can be frustrating, managing the expectations of athletes and the general public.
What are your personal and professional goals for the future?
As a member of Pro Team Vibram my goals in trail running would one day be a top 10 in the UTMB... In the clinic I would love to follow the lead of physio Neil Maclean-Martin and continue to work and consult for elite sports teams whilst helping to build up LCDS as a centre of excellence for sports injuries.
With Evergreen I/We would love to see Evergreen Endurance grow internationally. The dream would be to template the same adventurous endurance racing with maximal environmental respect at the forefront across the globe!
And now for some locals tips:
What's your favourite piste or off-piste area & top tip to go skiing?
I'm one of those lycra wearing weirdos who spends more time going up than down in the winter, don't ask.
Your personal favourite place for lunch or dinner?
Ghandi's the Indian restaurant in Les Houches goes down a treat.
What has been your best ever day in Chamonix?
12th place in the TDS was a pretty special day in Chamonix, treating friends at the fins line felt amazing even if I felt very sub-human at the time!
Find out more about Evergreen Endurance and how to sign up or volunteer.