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Challenge Montpellier: Long-distance racing on the Mediterranean coast

New race added to the calendar - and it will feature a single lap bike course of 180km

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Challenge Family have announced the addition of a new long-distance race to its impressive portfolio as the organisation plan to host Challenge Montpellier on May 7, 2023.

The Southern French city will host the 226km event in some of the most striking rural and urban environments in the south of the country. And the race will feature one of the few single-lap, 180km bike circuits on the international triathlon calendar.

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Going long

The addition of a new full-distance race is relatively unusual for Challenge Family.

In Challenge Roth and the long-standing Challenge Almere-Amsterdam, they of course have two of the best known events over the distance, but more generally the vast majority of their global portfolio is across the middle distance. For the event in Montpellier, both full and middle distance options will be available for athletes.

It could be that France is a wise choice in which to try and develop a new long distance event, in a world which is otherwise largely dominated by the M-Dot banner. In France, there are several notable non-Ironman events which gain significant traction with French athletes, including Embrunman and Alpe d’Huez Triathlon, suggesting that local athletes are receptive to events outside of the global giant. Those events do however have a very long history.

It will be interesting to see the entry numbers and the long / middle split. That will be key to determining the long-term status of this venture.

The course

It begins with a dip in the Mediterranean Sea – a 3.8km single loop is based at Le Prévost beach in Villeneuve lès Maguelone, just 10km from Montpellier – known for its exceptional water quality having achieved ‘Blue Flag’ status for the past 30 years.

Then comes the single loop bike course which will take competitors through typical towns and landscapes of the south, La Taillade, Les Gorges de l’Hérault, Le Pic Saint Loup and its vineyards before arriving at T2 at Le Zénith Sud de Montpellier festival complex.

A multi-lap 42.2km run course will conclude the event, with the circuit running alongside the smallest river in France – Le Lez.

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Working with the community

“Pont du Diable”, near St Guilhem du Desert, Herault, Languedoc Roussillon, old bridge on the Herault river

Challenge Montpellier Race Director, Bertrand Mulot:

“We are looking forward to welcoming athletes to the first edition of Challenge Montpellier, an event set up by triathletes for triathletes.

“A swim in the Mediterranean Sea, bike courses that allow you to discover the varied landscapes of the Hérault and a run through the new districts of Montpellier along the smallest river in France for a festive arrival at the Zénith Sud de Montpellier.”

Challenge Family CEO, Jort Vlam:

“We’re delighted to confirm a new long distance race on the Challenge Family race calendar.”

“Bertrand, Antoine [Pineau] and Pierry [Baldet} are not only passionate about triathlon, they understand the importance of community and we look forward to working with them to develop Challenge Montpellier into an event that brings benefits at multiple levels to the region as well as a memorable race for the athletes and their families.

“With its single lap bike course, the wonderful French ‘joie de vivre’, and amazing setting, we look forward to Challenge Montpellier quickly becoming a bucket-list race for athletes around the world.”

Stuart Dick
Written by
Stuart Dick
Stuart is a graduate of the University of Sunderland with a masters' degree in Sports Journalism. He spends a lot of his time running and cycling around West Yorkshire, England.
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