Despite hearing the stories from last year, somehow, the 6 of us STILL came together for this year's gruelling challenge on this beautiful island of Penghu, Taiwan. Knowing this course was designed by sadists, for masochists, all of us dug deep and found something that kept us going on the big day.
A leisurely start at 8.15am on Sunday 17 September saw a great turnout of Tritons, old and new, gather at Repulse Bay for the latest social event. Deserving of particular mention was the return of Pete Hanna to the racing circuit and modelling the new Tritons race kit (no doubt bought especially for this occasion!), and welcoming new members Brenda and Dana to their first Tritons event.
The good: first race in my home country, Holland – even better, race was in Rotterdam, where I went to college. Was great to join Team Hong Kong (there were two of us… not necessarily the biggest team out there…). Huge turnout otherwise – 4,000 plus running around. After a week of heavy rain, we had bright sunshine on race day. Good times.
Big kudos to IRONMAN for finally finding a way of making a tough & honest world championship course to avoid drafting on the bike! I hardly saw anyone drafting and yet all penalty boxes were full! Marshals did a great job giving no second chances to anyone!
The town is bustling with life, race participants are everywhere, easily recognizable with their shaved legs, ironman wristbands and t-shirt and caps featuring ironman events from all around the world. People check each other out.
Ironman races in China attract people with a common goal, and that goal is to get slots for Kona and the World Championships. Our small group of seven were no different (Toby Chu, Ruth Chen, Federico Masin, Rob Kushner, Kit Wilson, Stefano Passarello and me). We were each there to grab one of the 80 slots on offer.
I signed up for IM Austria as my first IM the day after last year's race as I have several mates who have completed it before and I wanted a European race to have my family there for the big day. I have raced 2 x ITU Abu Dhabi and 4 X IM 70.3 but nothing prepared me for the sheer scale of this race with close to 3500 athletes milling around the town of Klagenfurt for the 19th edition of the event. They claim to be the biggest IM in the world and it certainly felt like it with a really warm welcome from the locals.