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

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The 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:

That’s it really.

Here’s some of the supporting logic

BOLTON KALKAR Copenhagen Austria
Swim Type Lake Sea Lagoon Lake
Swim Temp 19 19 22 24
Swim Laps 2+Exit 1 1 1
Bike Ascent 1641m 529m 622m 704m
Run Ascent 290m 312m 173m 149m
DNF Rate 8% 5% 5% 6%
Median finish 13:44:21 12:15:21 11:47:04 11:51:05
Av High Temp 19 22 21 26
Cut Off 17 16 15:45 17
Spectator Support 7 8 8 9
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 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).

IRONMAN KALMAR, Kalmar, Sweden,

IRONMAN COPENHAGEN, Copenhagen, Denmark

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

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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