Across the globe in Spain, Jan and Emma Frodeno spent the weekend hosting an event that put an entirely different twist on triathlon. It was the inaugural SGRAIL100 Adventure Triathlon in Girona, Spain. The race was formatted as a point to point swim, bike, and run. Priorities were centered on adventure, donuts, beers, and good times instead of race splits and podiums. For Emma, inspiration for this type of event began with the Noosa Triathlon Festival. “I’ve always wanted to play a part in events. The affinity for Noosa was the strength of the community” she recalls.
The inception of SGRAIL began in 2020, when Jan and Emma met with local race organizers Gerard and Cris Freixes with Klassmark to put on an event after Kona in October. When the pandemic made it impossible to commit to a date that would work, the team stopped moving forward with the 2020 event. Fast forward to September 2021, 30 days before the 0 edition of SGRAIL100, and the team decided to move forward with the race. It was a crazy concept, as the race had to be approved by two city councils, and would take place during a festival weekend in Girona.
The race involved a 2 kilometer swim in the city of Cadaques, an 88 kilometer gravel route along the coast and through rural farm lands, and a 10 kilometer run ending at the Sant Miquel Castle in Girona. For Jan and Emma, the point to point race format allowed them to share more of their favorite training grounds in one event.
People from all over the world came to swim in the mediterranean sea, ride beautiful gravel terrain, and run up a mountain. For Jan, it was about creating an event that he wanted to do. “Triathlon is work for me, so I wanted to create a fun event that I wanted to do outside of traditional racing.” Reflecting on the weekend, Jan noted that it was an opportunity for people to come back to the sport. “I spoke with a guy who came back to the sport for the first time in 20 years. The sport has come so far, it was great to provide an entry back into triathlon.” As Kona is an event that is based upon qualification for the top athletes, and is a highly competitive environment for age groupers and professionals, Jan thinks of SGRAIL as almost an antidote to Kona.
The race had a refreshing and lighthearted feel to it. Instead of racing through transitions, espresso was enjoyed over laughs and banter. “This was the first race I've ‘lost’ in 4 years,” Jan joked. He traded in his trisuit for a stylish Hawaiian shirt for the occasion, and was taking time to chat with everyone during the race. Instead of traditional awards, SGRAIL recognized athletes who represented the spirit of the race. Awards were given to the youngest and oldest participants, another to an athlete who persevered through multiple punctures and still made it to the finish line, another who raced the entire 100 kilometers in a bow tie and suspenders, and even a very friendly and very patient participant who fixed the punctures of 6 strangers.
To top it all off, the race benefitted the Frodeno Fun(d). The Girona-based foundation is a non-profit organization with a mission to positively influence the lives of locally-based, socially-disadvantaged children with the help of sport. The Fun(d) will be launching Christmas boxes in coming weeks to raise funds for future projects helping local kids access the benefits of sport and community. “It was great to have some of the kids at the event and actually see the power of sport” recalls Emma. If you want to donate to the fund, the best way is through Instagram.
Before the finish chute was taken down, people were already asking when the next SGRAIL would be. "For sure there will be another edition" Emma reassured. Follow along with SGRAIL to be the first to know about future editions.