Yes! We can still do it. With a brilliant XTERRA Germany 2021, THE event of the region has returned to the big stage of Europe's top-class XTERRA competitions. No, that's no exaggeration! It’s exactly what everyone saw and experienced: A perfect show - from Friday to Sunday. The O-SEE and the Nature Park Zittauer Gebirge played their scenic trump cards, even the weather, which pretty much eliminated summer from the programme this year, was almost ideal. For a long time it was uncertain whether the development of the pandemic would allow the event to take place at all - and if so, under what conditions? This uncertainty caused the organisers to dither for a long time. Comparable events in Europe were cancelled one after the other, even traditional regional events like the Lückendorf Hill Race or the Triangular Race capitulated. Then, in June, the team came to the unanimous decision - "Yes, we can do it! After that, the preparations started feverishly under enormous time pressure, after all, there was a 3-month backlog of preparation to catch up on. But thanks to a dimension of cooperation between organisers, sponsors, institutions, supporters, helpers and athletes that is unique in the region, it was possible to present the O-SEE Challenge again in the expected quality.
And then, despite this really not easy situation, a new competition format was dared to be added to the already packed event schedule - the XTERRA Short Track. This format of sprint competition in a very confined space is clearly also designed as a show, because the spectators can follow the entire course of the competition from one spot. It is also possible, with reasonable technical effort, to record the race with several cameras and to stream the signal on the web or to make it available to TV stations. For example, MDR broadcast the entire race at the premiere at O-SEE. The concept is comparable to biathlon competitions in stadiums, cross-country skiing on the banks of the Elbe or the cyclecross series. Now, also the O-SEE with its panorama as a podium for such a spectacular show.
However, the planning turned out to be more complicated than initially thought. But the one-year break was cleverly used to work out and lay out the tracks, and to plan and build the wooden chicanes that turned the bike track into a real obstacle course. And when it was all set up - amazement everywhere. Wow - a huge 180° curve directly on the water, huge ramps and beams on the large lawn, steep bridges over the paths, freshly created natural trails in the small woods. Every natural feature was cleverly built into the course. The result put a big grin on the faces of the elite starters and the officials. The young guns in the organising team were as proud as punch, because it was their baby in particular. A new generation of organisers is taking up position. The premiere on Friday at 3.30 p.m. was a real hit. 27 elite men and 18 elite women from all over Europe gave an impressive demonstration of their skills. This was again a new facet in the development of the O-SEE Challenge.
The fact that some of the elements were also integrated into the MTB course on Saturday made some folk-sport-oriented starters' hearts drop a little, because these ramps and curves were only passed shortly before the finish, when you already have a few kilometres of hard MTB tour in your legs. But it worked, everyone got through it well and was full of adrenaline afterwards - including, for example, Zittau's mayor, who started in the team with Mr. O-SEE and Jonsdorf's Mayoress.
And the spectacular 180° turn directly at the O-SEE is now the new landmark of the event.
Even patron Michael Kretschmer was visibly impressed by what he saw and came by again on Saturday with his kids after participating in the opening. Speaking of the opening, it was once again a highlight in itself. Numerous dignitaries, sponsors and celebrities accepted the invitation and many good conversations were held in a great atmosphere. Olbersdorf's mayor, Andreas Förster, took advantage of this relaxed atmosphere to publicly express his displeasure at the slow processing of the application for funding for the redevelopment of the O-SEE area on the north shore. They promised to look into the matter... It would be nice if the power of the images created by the O-SEE Challenge made such an impression on the MP that he started asking the authorities.
It was also nice that almost 200 kids found their way to O-SEE and completed their own challenge on Sunday, and it was also nice for the organisers and helpers that the dismantling could take place without rain.
Speaking of dismantling: it takes 5 days to set up O-SEE City. Thanks to heavy equipment and many helpers and a sophisticated concept, everything is dismantled within only 8 hours and the beach is restored to its original state. On Sunday at 9 pm, all the equipment is already stowed away again in the warehouse: bicycle bridge, finish gate, running bridge, the huge new wooden curve, inflatable arches, umpteen banners and flags, tents, bicycle racks for 800 bikes, several trailers with various equipment, computer technology, umpteen kilometres of cables, fences and so on and so forth... Only the giant umbrella is still standing lonely and will be dismantled by the special company on Monday. A logistical masterpiece that I take my hat off to every time.
And we owe it all to a bet we made over 20 years ago. The anniversary brochure published to mark the (unfortunately cancelled) 20th anniversary in 2020 also reminds us of this. A special highlight: the 5 heroes of 2020 posed again 22 years later and recreated the original motif. You have to look closely to see the differences ;-). In any case, this brochure, so lovingly designed and published in a small edition, will certainly be worth its weight in gold in 20 years' time.
I can only repeat myself: it was a great weekend. I also think it was simply the highlight of the year in the region. Our courage and our willingness to take risks and the unconditional will not to back down were rewarded. We put a smile on the faces of many people to whom sport means something, to whom the O-SEE and the home region mean something. It was simply the challenge of the big smile.
Thanks to all sponsors, helpers, supporters, service providers, it was a great teamwork. Huge thanks to the host communities and the district for the consistently benevolent view of our event concept, for the diverse support and pleasant cooperation. It's just so much fun...
Things to criticise and improve: -> There is always something to improve…
Keyword: number of participants: 810 participants from 19 nations (2019: 1314 athletes, 51 of them elite from 23 nations), due to the pandemic a huge decrease, especially in the teams. Nevertheless good.
Keyword: Entertainment programme: reduced to a minimum due to the pandemic, no bands, no trial performances, no children's circus. There were many questioning and sad looks because of that. At least Zittau's dance company 1stRevoluZion gave a short performance. And the DJs Robin & Nico celebrated the O-SEE OpenAir again and everyone enjoyed it.
What else was there to report:
See you again on August 19-21, 2022
Dr. Klaus "Benno" Schwager aka Mr. O-SEE & THANKS to all for everything!!!