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.
No matter how many times you do it, it always hurts like hell, and while you run you always promise to yourself never to do it again and yet this was my 12th full ironman. I guess it is the unexplainable satisfaction when crossing the finish line that makes you forget all the pain, always wanting you to go back for more.
Three lessons from Challenge Taitung: Do plan to travel at least two days in advance of the race… you never know when you might have a transport breakdown and don’t trust the bus driver claiming to have “tricks” for an over heating radiator. Don’t trust the race director when he says that the marshals never give out drafting penalties. Do get an aero bike!
Great conditions for this year's Vietnam 70.3 race in Danang. Still hot but thankfully less than last year. Very well organised and in a beautiful location. Well done to Ray P. for another awesome race and to Alex G. for finishing his first half Ironman. Here is his first 70.3 report.