Road trip! Five countries in one day: France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria, one VW camper van, two bikes, two competitors, one tent, no cooker, no can opener, no kettle and 15 hours later…
The Austrian town of Zell am See, situated deep in the Alps, is possibly one of the most stunning locations for an Ironman 70.3 event in the world. We arrived late on the Thursday evening, leaving Friday to get registered and set up in transition. As this was my first Ironman branded event, Friday was getting used to the bags and transition system, and making sure that everything was well prepared. Transition was a little like a war zone with tyres exploding every few minutes. With temperatures reaching 35 degrees, tyre pressures had to be low!
Our race started at 6:40am (5:40 UK time!). The swim was in the warm alpine waters of lake Zell. The water was too warm for wetsuits really - in my opinion. Every minute or so I was having to pull my wetsuit neck open to let some cool water flush through. Apart from that - it was a great swim, although a bit slower than I was hoping for.
Onto the bike: A beautifully scenic bike route that gave us a stunning mountain section after about 10 miles. The mountain was a lot harder than I had expected. I was kind of thinking it would be like Porthtowan hill, a couple of times. It was so much harder though! At about three quarters of the way up, we went through a town, that had hundreds of supporters out - the noise was amazing! That support really helped with the last push to the top, and then came the fast decent for a few miles before the route flattened out again. At 41 miles I ran out of energy, and found myself being passed by so many other riders. I went from 6th to 70th on the bike - not too proud of that! It wasn't until later in the day, when I picked my bike up from transition, that I realised I hadn’t taken any of my nutrition. That explained the poor bike performance. It was either that, or the lack of asymmetric calf guards.
The last 15 miles of the bike were a bit of a nightmare, so I was more than pleased to get off and start the 13 mile run. It was a great run route, a couple of laps around part of the lake, and back through the town to the finish. Again, the support through the town of Zell am See was awesome, with literally thousands of people out to cheer us on all the way through to the finish.
So, to sum up - a much slower finish time than I’d hoped for, but the faultless organisation, and enormous support throughout the event, more than made up for my time! Watching the World 70.3 Championships the following morning topped the whole event off to finish an epic weekend.