Project 2008 - Ironman 70.3 Austria, St Polten
2008 in Greece... triathlon for the masses is just about 1 year-old in Greece, the country has only ever held a few sprint distance triathlons open to everyone and the awareness of the sport is still at ground zero. No media (magazines, books or else) in Greek tackle the challenge of racing triathlons and going the distance... Having launched the Schiniathlon races in 2007, we quickly gathered a group of passionate athletes and commit to prepare & race together at a half-iroman in Europe... this was the first of the summer iron trips.
Up till the day before the event, it was still unsure whether we would be racing under buckets of water or under the blazing sun. It seemed all the weather forecasts had decided to contradict each others all the way through : rain, sun, thunder storms, heat wave, whatever…
Last minute stops at the bike shops included rain-tyres, sun cream and waterproof cycling jackets !
Prepared as best as we could, we headed up to the event with excitement and great curiosity. Long distance multi-sports event was new to most of us.
Naturally we spent the 2 days leading to the race filling up our stomachs with pretty much anything we found, trying to gauge the best way to carbo-load.
Some of us pushed it a bit too far, embarking on a course of beer drinking in the afternoon sun, not mentioning the Chianti and Grapa to accompany our last pantagruelic pre-race austrian diner - surely we'll find a way to put these to good use on race day.
Race day finally arrived and off we went, to the lake, under a generous morning sun and bright blue sky.
The waves start mechanism meant the youngest had to set off first. Sarah, Alex and Markos were among the first wave, and well… anyone familiar with the Schiniathlon saga won’t be too surprised that Sarah posted the 50th swim time of the event, Pros included, in an international field of 1500 swimmers! Oh, and Alex posted 58th time, just 9 seconds behind Sarah… Not a bad start for the team!
Most of us were taken by surprise at the length and gradient of the bike hills, which appeared to be much worse than they looked on paper on the race course profile.
The run course was pretty nice and quite unusual, most of it being on flat trail, by the river of St Polten, with 2 passages only through spectators-populated places.
That’s were Markos decided that, having done a good swim and good bike, it was time to relax a bit and go for a walk. Similarly, Dimitris and Petros experienced substantial physical breakdown by the time they started the run, albeit for different reasons. While Dimitris suffered from lack of brick training in his preparation, Petros had the unpleasant surprise to meet again with an old knee injury and pain slowed him down badly at the second lap.
The team waited at the finish line for the veteran of the group, Harry to cross that line just clear of the cut-off. Nearly 8hrs of continuous effort and still smiling!
Now was time to go get more food and more drink - and set our eyes on our next challenge: a full ironman for sure!
We hope our “team” will grow bigger and that more of you will join us in this fantastic experience of getting there together… May you be inspired and join us for our next challenge!