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 UMD's Raymond Faces an Endurance Challenge

UMD's Rod Raymond Places Fifth in Swiss Gigathlon.

Rod Raymond, UMD Life Fitness/ Wellness Coordinator finished fifth overall on July 10 in the Swiss Expo Gigathlon, a multi-event race that went from Locarno to Basel, Switzerland. Raymond, who won the race in 1998, finished an hour behind winner Martin Soliva from Galgenen, Switzerland. The Gigathlon is a race over 391 kilometers (244 miles), divided into five different sporting categories (swimming, mountain biking, road cycling, running and inline skating.) About 200 solo competitors were entered in the Gigathlon.

The scale of the Gigathlon makes comparisons even to other endurance events difficult, but it has been estimated that the Swiss Expo Gigathlon is equivalent to seven consecutive Ironman competitions. Switzerland’s mountainous profile, with climbs and descents totalling some 21 kilometers (13 miles), is especially difficult to navigate. The race is known as "harder than the Tour de France” and the race creator says the winner of this race is "among the fittest in the world".

Raymond agreed. He said, "The 40 kilometer (25 miles) mountain bike was single toughest thing I have ever done. The course was outrageous. We had to carry our bikes up the gnarliest mountain passes you could ever imagine and the downhills were literally deadly. After the mountain bike section, Raymond took on a 120 kms (75 mile) road bike with three major passes. "Remember that in the Tour de France, a major alpine stage has two passes," Raymond said. "We had three passes on the road bike section alone... I lost major time on the hills, 30 minutes at least, to the athletes that train in the Alps. I was out of my element." Never the less, Raymond finished sixth on the first day of the race and managed to pull ahead on the second day to finish in fifth place. Raymond said, "The 28 km (17 mile) run was so freaking tough it would make a blind man was either straight up or so steep down that it blew your legs to smithereens."

Raymond, who the Swiss media call the "Ultra Phenomenon," has been hinting about walking away from the super-athlete circle for good. "A lifetime of ultra-endurance racing is too much, but being fifth in the world is a great place for me to be right now."

Photos: Above, Raymond. Below: The swimming start; Raymond at the top of the NARET pass

© ewz / Kirsten Stenzel Maurer

Written by Cheryl Riana Reitan. Posted July 14, 2005

Cheryl Reitan, Publications Director,
NEW RELEASES, UMD media contact, Susan Beasy Latto,, 218-726-8830


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