Klagenfurt Travel Blog› entry 8 of 10 › view all entries
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 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.
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.
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.
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!).
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.
We got back to the hotel around 1:30am. What a long day -- especially for Doug!