Triple Colmar 2021: Hepo-Oja finishes as first female from Finland!

Triathlon competitions are equal as a race distance or a prizes. This is a great aspect. In France because of my name many has thought that I’m a male competitor and what a surprise when they see me. This is not the first time that the same thing has happened.

Triple Colmar 2021 - Nuppu Hepo-Oja became the first female finisher from Finland.

Text by Nuppu Hepo-Oja | Photo by Mirja Kotro

After two years with canceled triple races was an amazing news to get from Laurent an organization of Bretzel Ultra Tri that the race would be held on 2021. I did register for race in the spring 2021.  
As in almost every country COVID did have bring lots of restrictions to training. Swimming halls had open only in May 2021 in Finland. And because of North location open water swimming is not so easy on winter time.  
I know even when register for the race that this one was not going to be a easy race for me. Even triple distance races has been held for decades, Finland did not have an any female performance from this distance. That was a big bonus motivation for me to make it to the finish line.  
Coming to the race by flight is a bit difficult always, because you can only have so limited amount of stuff with you. I looked a bit envy the beautiful race tents with nightlights and mattress of other competitors. I should better prepare my race tent in Brezel Village before the race started.  
Atmosphere at the race start in Stade Nautique Colmar was really relaxed. I think you can’t get that kind of atmosphere created in a bigger race. Swimming did go ok, because it was so much less swimming than normal years because of COVID. I was sign up for 4h time. I did pass it by 7 minutes, but close enough. I haven’t swim in a race before in a pool only open water so a new experience for me. I have before swim 10 km ja 8,5 km in open water, but this was my longest swim so far.
Bretzel Ultra Tri was held on France near the border of Swiss and Germany. Vosges mountains and wine yards bought a beautiful surroundings, but also a bit of roughs road in France country side.

Cycling was the hardest part for me. I have not done cycling so long before. 250 km has been the longest ride. Also was difficult to stay awake. 540 km cycling did take lot of time 25:03:49 it’s too long, but trying to improve in future years.  
I was so relieved when bike was done. Running is the most familiar for me. And when running you can also have a walk if needed. I have done 84 km run without a walk, but this 126 km was too long for me to just run. Feld a bit weak, but I did walk for many rounds. I have never before done so slow running time 20:35:15, but was happy to finish.  
I have only once run longer than this, 144 km in trails. Surprising hardest round were like the ten last rounds. Maybe the mind knows that there is so less to come up to than it starts to disassemble its shield. This was the first triathlon race that I have been, which allows to listen to music. I did have planned a music list. And after that I listen to voice book from Wim Hof. I did have some sugary ginger to prevent nausea. For most of the energy I had from malto mixed with sport drink and energy-gels.   
After a run we did have a breakfast at the Brezel Village with my mom, who was my only team member (thank you mom, also for this race event’s help). Shuttle service in the race was great and we did get a ride to the race hotel with my bike and all of the stuff.  
A real pleasant surprise was during the run France female athlete from double distance remembered me and my mom from Lithuania ultra-race. I use pickles or in this race liquid from pickles to prevent cramps. She remember this tip from Lithuania race and have had that on race preparation also.  
As always I did get many great tips and tips also for a great races to do in the future. There is so much to learn and do in the future. As always ultra-races are fulfilled with amazing personalities. It’s such a pleasure to get to know ultra-athletes and learn from them. As in this time also I felt being a part of common sport family that don’t mind even if you are not speaking the same language, because our common language is sport.  
After the race it’s time to orientated to new challenges. First is to find a new coach to help make it to next ultra-goals. My previously co-working with last five years was agreed to end after a successful triple ultra triathlon.  
Warm thank you for Laurent and Brezel team’s all volunteers. Also thank you for Mark and Bernand from IUTA, it was great meeting you all. Thank you and we will meet again in some race experience in future years.    

Nuppu Hepo-oja, Finland

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From the author: Nuppu is mom of two teens from Finland. First started to run marathon in adult age. Nuppu is working in public sector with EU-project, safety & quality. And studying in MBA grade in English, Sport Business management in Sport Business school of Finland. Also a reading tip from ultra-experience Siberia Russia: