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BMW brand ambassador Alessandro Zanardi achieves his next big goal: Barcelona long distance triathlon completed in under nine hours.

It was his big goal for this triathlon season: Alessandro Zanardi (ITA) aimed to stay under the nine-hour mark in a long distance triathlon and the BMW brand ambassador accomplished his mission this Saturday. Zanardi completed the Barcelona triathlon in Spain with a time of 8:58.59 hours.

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Barcelona. It was his big goal for this triathlon season: Alessandro Zanardi (ITA) aimed to stay under the nine-hour mark in a long distance triathlon and the BMW brand ambassador accomplished his mission this Saturday. Zanardi completed the Barcelona triathlon in Spain with a time of 8:58.59 hours. In doing so, he improved on his personal best over the distance, achieved in Klagenfurt (AUT) in July, by nine minutes. Ultimately, Zanardi was classified 45th overall in a field of nearly 3,000 competitors.

The Catalunya event started at Calella beach with 3.8 kilometres of swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. The 180 kilometres of cycling were contested on a very flat and fast course. The final part, the 42.2 kilometre running section, led competitors along the Mediterranean Sea from Calella to Calella-Santa Susanna. Zanardi completed the distance with only the power of his arms: swimming, with his handcycle and his olympic wheelchair.

“I am over the moon. I think I have not realized yet that I stayed under the nine-hour mark. I managed to achieve my target and that makes me extremely happy,” Zanardi said. “I think for me, approaching my 51st birthday, this is pretty amazing. Especially as this competition was all but easy from a technical point of view.”

“The swim was difficult, as we started with the women, and after a while I found myself on my own which caused me problems finding the perfect line. I think instead of 3.8 kilometres I swam 4.5 kilometres because I was going a longer way round,” he added with a twinkle in his eye. “The bike section was simply exceptional. I completed it in under five hours which is amazing. I think I went at an average speed of over 38 km/h. That really gave me my final result because the marathon was a real challenge for me. For me, running with wheels, it was more than difficult. The course was very narrow and full of athletes. Most of the surface was gravel, and even when it was paved it was very rough and full of bumps. So taking all that into consideration, it was a fantastic performance. I am incredibly proud of this achievement.”

The Barcelona triathlon was Zanardi’s final major competition of the year in para-sports. He looks back on another successful season, including two more world titles in para-cycling won in South African Pietermaritzburg.

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