Ironman Austria

Klagenfurt Travel Blog

 › entry 8 of 10 › view all entries
Getting used to the lake temp!

Doug phoned me at 5am to head out to the starting point for the Ironman competition.  I was really sleeping soundly, so it took me a minute to get my bearings.  I threw on some clothes and a hat and met him for coffee.  I had a sneezing fit in the restaurant that had most of the patrons looking at me like I must have had SARS!  I did not eat anything, as it was just too early and the coffee was not that good here either.

We had to drive the backroads to the Worther See, as the main roads were all blocked for the races.  I had to pay close attention, as I would be taking the car back to the hotel later and did not want to get lost.  We got to the Worther See starting point at about 6am and it was already crazy.  Everyone was putting on wetsuits and greasing various parts of their bodies with vaseline and chamois butter.

The start of the swim portion at Worther See
  I saw a little bit of everything -- 1800 people in various states of undress -- several even got completely naked to start their routine! 

The lake was still and had a deep aquamarine color to it -- so it was quite beautiful.  As the athletes waited for the starting gun, many got into the lake to acclimate themselves to the water temperature, as it was quite cold.  There were hot air balloons all around the starting area giving it a very festive feel.  The first leg of the Ironman is a 2.5 mile swim (about 3.9 kilometers).  It started promptly at 7:00am, and it was chaotic!  Imagine 1800 people in wetsuits looking like seals trying to get ahead of one another.  The water went from being calm and serene to being whipped to a froth.

Off they go!
  I have always heard about how crazy this part of the Ironman is -- and now I saw it first hand.  The swimmers are literally on top of each other as they try to get ahead.  Arms swinging, legs kicking -- it has to be a very strenous experience out there!  I got some photos of the swimmers heading out, and then ran ahead to the canal they swim up on the way to the bike transition.  The canal part is quite narrow and has to be harrowing if you are packed in there like sardines headed to the cannery!  Most of the first wave of swimmers came out of the water at about the 50 minute mark, so were making good time.  I looked for Doug in the transition to biking, but did not see him.  I did meet a guy who had gone to the University of Wyoming (my undergrad school).
2.5 mile swim across Worther See
  He was a chemical engineer living in Chicago now and was here to cheer his sister on in the event.  He had seen my Vail, Colorado hat and asked me if I was from around there.  We watched some of the transition to bikes there and then split up to head into the area where the bike course headed.

I found a spot near the car and waited for Doug to cruise by on his bike.  He shot by me around 10am on one of his loops and I did my best to get some photos.  The bike course is 112 miles, or 180 kilometers, so he was out there a little over 4 hours on the bike.  That gave me time to get back into town, grab a real shower and have something to eat.  Once I figured out how to get the rental car into reverse, I had no trouble getting back into town and finding the hotel.

Doug cruising by
  After I cleaned up, I grabbed lunch there (another bratwurst, tomato salad and white wine), and then walked into the main part of town to watch the runners go by the main square.  The run portion of the race is 26.2 miles or 42 kilometers.  I really cannot imagine biking 112 miles and then running a full marathon in one day, let alone  add on the swim!

I got some pictures of Doug as he ran by the square.  Also got a couple of photos of this one guy who had dyed his hair bright orange and did a green Ironman symbol on the back of his head.  He was one you could not miss in the event!  I hung out for a bit by Klagenfurt's most famous monument, St. George and the Dragon.  It was a great spot to watch the runners.

I headed back to the finish line and set up to watch Doug come across.

The guy with orange hair has a green Ironman symbol dyed into the back of it!
  I got a picture of him just as he was crossing and he looked triumphant!  It's a little blurry, as I could not get too close.  He finished in 11 hours, 2 minutes.  He was whipped, but in good spirits.  The fastest male racer completed the course in a little over 8 hours!

Doug had a few blisters on his feet; other than that, he was in pretty good shape.  He waded down into the lake to cool off his legs and called his mother to let her know he had survived yet another Ironman. 

The finish line was pandemonium.  There were tons of people there to watch the end, they were playing Euro pop music on the loud speakers (and I never want to hear that song "Put Your Hands up in the Air" again, as it played about every 5 minutes!).

Doug runs by, still happy
  We left a little after 7, and went back to the hotel so Doug could shower and relax.  We had dinner on the main square at a place called the Landhaushof.  Doug had goulash soup and ravioli like pasta.  I had tafelspitz again, and it was good, just not as good as the one in Vienna.

Around 10, we went back out to the finish line and watched the last of the racers continue to come in to finish.  It is a tradition among the athletes to be at the finish line as the last competitors cross -- to offer them support.  The crowd went wild when each straggler came across the finish line.  It was definitely a tremendous welcome back to the finishers.

Triumphant Doug crossing the finish line
  You could see how it energized the competitors!  The music was much better at night -- at least more variety.  They had some Cher songs, some Queen and even the Village People doing YMCA.  The crowd loved it.  The last runner in arrived at about midnight and she looked very relieved to be done.   At midnight, they had a great fireworks show.  At least I finally got to see fireworks, even though it was two days after the US Independence Day celebration of July 4th!

We got back to the hotel around 1:30am.  What a long day -- especially for Doug! 

 

jennjeff1 says:
Tim, I've finished 4 marathons under 4 hours, ran a 7-man team around the 134-mile perimeter of Oahu and did a mini-Triathalon once in Hawaii, but the Ironman Triathalon is an incredible event I've never even considered trying! Hats off to Doug! ~Jeff
Posted on: Jun 13, 2008
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Getting used to the lake temp!
Getting used to the lake temp!
The start of the swim portion at W…
The start of the swim portion at …
Off they go!
Off they go!
2.5 mile swim across Worther See
2.5 mile swim across Worther See
Doug cruising by
Doug cruising by
The guy with orange hair has a gre…
The guy with orange hair has a gr…
Doug runs by, still happy
Doug runs by, still happy
Triumphant Doug crossing the finis…
Triumphant Doug crossing the fini…
Getting used to the water before t…
Getting used to the water before …
Doug checking out the water the mo…
Doug checking out the water the m…
All of the swimmers are lined up b…
All of the swimmers are lined up …
Worther See
Worther See
Like seals churning the water
Like seals churning the water
del
del
Open Water Swim
Open Water Swim
Coming up the canal to the bike tr…
Coming up the canal to the bike t…
112 mile bike ride course
112 mile bike ride course
Runners
Runners
26.2 mile run -- a full Marathon!
26.2 mile run -- a full Marathon!
You cant really make out the gree…
You can't really make out the gre…
Clocktower in downtown Klagenfurt
Clocktower in downtown Klagenfurt
del
del
Runners near the Square
Runners near the Square
Dougs telling me where to meet hi…
Doug's telling me where to meet h…
Young boy playing with gnome statue
Young boy playing with gnome statue
St. George and the Dragon on the M…
St. George and the Dragon on the …
Empress of Austria
Empress of Austria
St. George and the Dragon
St. George and the Dragon
Finishers lining up for free massa…
Finishers lining up for free mass…
More finishers
More finishers
Dougs cooling off his legs
Doug's cooling off his legs
Checking out the local wildlife
Checking out the local wildlife
Calling Mama at home to let her kn…
Calling Mama at home to let her k…
Balloon over Worther See
Balloon over Worther See
Klagenfurt
photo by: oceanroses