Ben Houston writes…
Race: Ironman Austria
Swim: 2.4 miles (3.8km)
Bike: 112 miles (180km)
Run: 26.2 miles (42.2km)
Venue: Klagenfurt, Carinthia, Austria
I had a really GREAT day on Sunday. 12:25 overall time at Ironman Austria. Fortunately It cooled down from the 30 degree heat of Saturday with prospects of rain on Sunday – race day in Klagenfurt, Corinthia.
Feeling extremely zen at the beach start I opted for a middle and centre of the pack strategy and ran straight in when the cannon fired at 7am. Despite a few atheletes who were throwing out breaststroke and backstroke (yes, seriously) I was able to follow some decent swimmers and was not troubled by the jostling for position which continued into the narrow Lendkanal right up to the exit. 1:25 – a great time for my weakest discipline.
A leisurely transition then out onto the bike course, which is 2 laps partly along the lake and then inland for a few hills – all in about 1600m of climbing. Anyone thinking of doing this event, bring the 11 cog and the 28 cog – used ALL my gears.
For the bike my strategy was to eat and drink regularly and not push too hard. Riding a 180km fully closed road event is a great experience – with regular spectator hot spots, bottle and food hand ups, motorcycle marshals and police outriders. DJ / beer tents on the key climbs and their enthusiastic supporters were really appreciated.
After 100k the thunder and ominous clouds finally gave way to heavy rain, which meant taking things easier on the fast descents and corners. 2nd time up the Rupertiberg at 153km was tough, but the rain stopped over the top and road started to dry out so could enjoy the last 25km descent back into Klagenfurt and knew I would be close to my target – 5:59 – just made it.
Another complete change in transition, pleased to get the wet cycle gear off, and some solid food – then onto the marathon. Austria is a 2 lap figure-8 course so passes the start area several times. At the 1km point of my run I heard over the PA the mens winner crossing the line – Ivan Rana of Spain broke 8 hours! My plan was to run/jog/shuffle in-between the aid stations which were every 2km. At each station I took onboard as much as I could eat/drink/carry and walk while consuming it all. This worked well and the half marathon came round in about 2:15. From km 20 to 35 my walk breaks were slighly longer but the dreaded “wall” never came and I even upped the pace in the last 5km to clock a 4:40 marathon and get inside 12:30 for the Ironman.
High fived plenty of supporters on my way to the magic carpet and stopped to also high five the Announcer in front of the finish line. In addition to the mandatory, “Ben, You Are An Ironman” the Announcer was quick witted with a “Houston, we have an Ironman” which the crowd loved.
Austria is a hard but fast course, has the feel of a big European Ironman event (3000 athletes) and is superbly organised. Definately recommend the experience.