Choosing my Ironman Journey 2017 Venue – Bolton? Copenhagen? Wales? Kalmar? Austria?

ironman-logo-iconThe decision of which race to enter for my first Ironman was not straightforward.

To a degree I want some bragging rights back at my club. So I don’t want a race that involves 5 vertical miles of bike climbing – ie one factor is that it is conducive to a ‘sensible’ finish time. I want to be a ‘fast finisher’ rather than ‘a finisher’ and I certainly won’t be in the mix for any kind of Age Group medal.

As I’ve said before; I want to tattoo IRONMAN on my forehead for all to see. I only intend to do this once, unless I don’t finish. And so it has to be Ironman-branded.

WARNING: A few jokey comments are made herein, I don’t take myself too seriously all the time

Swim Criteria:

Swimming in the sea gives me ‘the willies’ – a technical term for shark-phobia in waters where sharks haven’t been seen for 35million years. Swimming is my weakest discipline. I easily swim more than 5k every weekend so I suppose that makes me competent and I just can’t see any reason why I won’t finish the swim part – other than sharks. Seriously though I don’t like the taste of salt water but I do like the extra bouyancy. I don’t like the swell and the currents. I’m not overly keen on colder water but anything above 14 should be Ok. So basically I’m saying I’ll swim in saltwater in some sort of harbour/estuary but I ain’t fighting with a Cross Channel ferry any time soon.

Apologies if your opinion of me has fallen even further because of these admissions.

Bottom line: I don’t want to make it any harder than it needs to be.

Bike Criteria:

100+ miles is 100+ miles whichever way you look at it. I don’t fancy riding in a TT position for 100 miles on a super-flat tarmac, that would do my back in. That would probably do my brain in with the monotony as well. Plus it’s nice to have a bit of scenery and some downhill bits.

Run Criteria:

I’m not overly fussed. I suppose the5krunner should like the running bit. But it clearly is NOT 5k; so I don’t. I’m also not the5krunneraftercycling100miles either. This is the trickiest part. So if it’s flat, that would be awesome but ‘gently undulating’ or even ‘marginally hilly with a chance of downhills’ will be fine.

Other Criteria:

  • Laps: I don’t mind two laps of anything. But, Mr Eton Dorney, any more than that is soul destroying.
  • Spectators: I have no friends that should be fine :-). Actually if there’s a Starbucks en-route they might come to laugh at me.
  • Cut off time: 20 hours anyone 🙂 joking, that should be fine
  • Temperature (air): over 24 degrees starts to get a bit silly. I once came second in a race where it was not far off 35. I think everyone else (except the winner) had died.
  • Temperature (water): As above, 14 degrees would be nice.
  • Bike Ascent: I’ll take a vertical mile (1600m)

That’s it really.

Here’s some of the supporting logic

Swim TypeLakeSeaLagoonLake
Swim Temp19192224
Swim Laps2+Exit111
Bike Ascent1641m529m622m704m
Run Ascent290m312m173m149m
DNF Rate8%5%5%6%
Median finish13:44:2112:15:2111:47:0411:51:05
Av High Temp19222126
Cut Off171615:4517
Spectator Support7889
Source: 220Triathlon

So the ‘logical’ choice is Copenhagen but the need for respite on hills pushes the choice towards BOLTON, where I also have relatives. Austria seems too hot and Kalkar (Sweden) has swimming in the sea. I didn’t consider Ireland really. If you are thinking about cost then ‘obviously’ a home event will usually be cheaper (& easier logistically).

Ironman_ WalesIRONMAN UK, Bolton, Greater Manchester: UK residents choosing a local race just need to know that with a sea swim and hard bike course Ironman Wales is TOUGH (ie the other one is tougher than IMUK at Bolton).

  •  IMUK has a 4x lap route in a built up area.

IRONMAN KALMAR, Kalmar, Sweden,

  • 3 lap run.
  • Bike is flat but not too flat, apparently.
  •  consider the cut-off time if you are just going for a finish
IRONMAN COPENHAGEN, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 4 lap run with lots of spectators.
  • Again consider the cut-off time if you are just going for a finish

IRONMAN AUSTRIA, Klagenfurt, Austria: beginner score 80/100

  • Apparently beautiful with a fast bike on smooth roads
  • Temperatures of both water and air are a slight worry to me. The run is shady to a degree.

My Ironman Journey Secret: Each Ironman Journey post has some form of secret from me at the end (not sure why but I’ve started, so I’ll finish). The furthest I’ve ever ridden is 110 miles and the longest continuous mountain bike is 9.5 hours or thereabouts.

In my opinion 3.8km is too short for the swim. It’s NOT hard to swim 3.8km even for a ‘competent’ swimmer like me. The bike and run are disproportionately harder in themselves let alone the cumulative effect of fatigue over the race. There should be a 5k swim I reckon.


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7 thoughts on “Choosing my Ironman Journey 2017 Venue – Bolton? Copenhagen? Wales? Kalmar? Austria?

  1. Have you signed up yet ?
    I’ve done Bolton as my first ironman and was a fantastic event. Doing Hamburg this year and eyeing up Austria for next year.
    Seaswims are out for me as I found out last year I’m very seasick when swimming in sea !
    At least with Bolton you could try and get a recci loop of bike in before the event ?

  2. Just discovered your blog. Love it! How is the training going for this? Hoping to do an ironman next year but have to get over some swimming-related phobias first!

      1. Near drowning incident when I was younger has left me terrified of deep water, especially when I can’t see or feel the bottom.

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