In December last year Parcours athlete Caroline Livesey took an incredible win at Patagonman. Patagonman is an extreme triathlon, which by definition is held over more extreme courses and potentially more extreme weather conditions due to the remote locations and large elevation changes.
The course takes on an unforgettable journey through one of the most amazing natural settings of the world, running point-to-point. Starting before sunrise in the Aysen Fjord, athletes swim 3.8 kilometers toward Puerto Chacabuco. From there, they will then ride 180 kilometers into the windy, winding and hilly road of the famous Carretera Austral to Cerro Castillo, one of the most scenic postcards of Patagonia. Finally, they will then run 42.2 kilometers of dirt trail and rubble road following the Ibanez River through forest.
We caught up with Caroline to chat through her experiences of the race and also what she has planned for this year…
How did it feel taking the win at Patagonman in December?
The whole Patagonman race experience was exceptional. It is the most incredible race I have ever had the pleasure to do, and there have been many. This one was special in so many ways for me; having my husband Mark crewing, sharing the start line with brilliant friends old and new, meeting wonderful local people in Patagonia, and just having the opportunity to race to my full potential in such a remote and beautiful location. When I took the win I was ecstatic and I was dancing about filled with a happiness which was not just about the result - but about all the amazing people who helped me get there. It was a performance that I was very happy with.
The backdrop of this race looks incredible, what was it like racing in such a spectacular environment?
The scenery in Patagonia is one of the things that makes this race so special. I was really happy that I had nearly two weeks out there prior to race day to soak it all up and get out exploring because at first the scale of the landscape is just overwhelming. But the environment is also about the weather in this remote spot - and it can be as extreme as the landscape. The winds on race day were up to 60 kph with stronger gusts and for some athletes that was pretty scary on the bike. I was very happy with my bike setup and wheel choice which I trusted and had trialled in strong winds before the race. .
How did you deal with the harder moments during the race?
As I say at the end of the film - my race is always with myself. I race these incredibly challenging events to see what I can get out of myself. How deep I can dig when it gets tough, and I get a huge amount of satisfaction from reaching the end of a race like this knowing that I faced those moments and did my absolute best. So usually I go for distraction (eat something!) or drawing energy from people or things around me (thinking of the crew that were supporting me at this race for example!). I did have some dark moments in the last 5km of the run - but I managed to distract myself with some tough conversations out loud into the 60 kph wind -and focussed on keeping moving as fast as I could.
How does extreme triathlon differ to a race like Ironman?
I think other than the obvious difference in the courses (while the same distances, extreme triathlon generally has a lot of ascent on the bike, and the run is all or part off-road and again usually contains a lot of ascent) - the main difference is that for extreme triathlons like Patagoman and the XTRI World Tour series you need a support crew. That means fewer athletes are allowed on the course (usually between 150-300 athletes in total) and you get to have some special people with you all day who get a close up experience of your race. Often you are also allowed someone running with you for the final 10km of the marathon. Because of the lower numbers you are never surrounded by other athletes, there is no drafting, and you get to experience what it is like to be out there in a remote location with your crew just doing your absolute best to keep moving fast. It is an incredible experience and so much fun. I have shared some wonderful moments with my crews in the extreme triathlons I have done and it is something that I will keep going back for.
What Parcours wheels did you use for the race?
I was on an Orbea Ordu TT bike with Strade front and Chrono rear. The Aysen region of Patagonia is renowned for strong winds, and the Strade gave me total confidence in a stable front end. The Chrono is my favourite wheel and for a race like this with 2500m of ascent on the bike it is perfect.
What are you plans and targets for 2023?
The main races for 2023 are:
2023 - Portocolom Triathlon 2 April
Traka 200km gravel race 29th April
Swissman XTRI 24 June
I have a slot for a repeat of Norseman but not sure yet!
Badlands 800km unsupported gravel race in Spain 3 Sept.
October - 100km distance triathlon race in Columbia
December - maybe back to defend in Patagonia but depends on funding!
After some awesome results in 2022, culminating with her win in Patagonman, we can’t wait to watch Caroline’s journey throughout 2023!
Plus check out the full film documenting Caroline's experience racing (and winning) the ultimate triathlon experience at the bottom of the world in Chilean Patagonia. In this documentary Caroline shares key information to other athletes so they can have their best race - from how cold the water is to how to pace the bike course, this film is a must for all levels of triathlete who want to take on Triathlon's Wild Giant.