Professeur Lionel Martellini finisher of the Nice Ironman

Written on 08 July 2015.

Not only is Lionel Martellini Professor of Finance at EDHEC Business School, Scientific Director of EDHEC-Risk Institute and Senior Scientific Advisor at ERI Scientific Beta, but he is also a remarkable sportsman.

On a sweltering day on 28 June, he completed the Nice Ironman, a punishing triathlon event comprising 3.8kms of swimming, 180kms of cycling and 42.195kms of running.

Lionel, you finished the Nice Ironman in just over 13 hours and came in 252nd in your age group. Congratulations from us for a fine performance!

What motivates you to compete in this sport?

I don’t think there’s any one answer really. I could obviously talk about the urge to stretch your limits and to set yourself new challenges. I’ve also been practising the three disciplines for quite a long time, so I was naturally drawn towards triathlon. However, the real reason might be different and could be related to a desire to be true to a dream that I had as a teenager – “that young man similar to me” in the words of Louis Aragon – when I was fascinated by the exploits of triathletes at the time.

How do you reconcile your preparations for an Ironman with your demanding professional commitments and your family life?

The running and the swimming are not really a problem, as the training sessions are relatively short and you can fit them in fairly easily, particularly when you live close to the sea and there’s no need to travel to a swimming pool, where the hours are generally fairly rigid. The cycling is more time-consuming, and I do what a lot of triathletes do, which is to get up early. So a training session that begins at 6 in the morning on Saturday or Sunday allows you to be back by mid- or late morning and thereby participate fully in family life.

What do you get out of sport in general?

I find that intensive sport is the best way for me to get rid of the stress linked to a fairly intense professional life that entails a lot of travel. It also allows me to strip everything down to the essentials and thereby attain a kind of intimacy in my relations with the world that others might find by meditating, for example.

What are your next challenges?

Finish an Ironman in under 12 hours, thanks to more finely-tuned training and to better race-management in general and better hydration in particular. And also try to understand the space-time geometry of lengths close to the Planck length, but that’s a completely different story…

Based on this exploit, what tips could you give to students to use in real life?

My advice would be to take your dreams seriously, get up early, even after a late night and set out to conquer the world! There are so many fine things waiting for you and with a little perseverance and plenty of motivation, you could end up by seeing them as attainable.


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