Fighting spirit "on the rocks"

Fighting spirit "on the rocks"

Triathlon professional, Michael Weiss, took 16th overall in the 37th anniversary of the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.

The Austrian, now a four-time finisher in Kona, delivered a spectacular comeback performance amidst a field of the world’s best under brutal conditions. "The conditions were absolutely extreme,” Michael adds. “The drop-out rate was high and it was a struggle for survival by the end."

Weiss was satisfied with his performance and result at the end of the day and as Austria’s only pro male in the race, he said, “although I expected a faster swim time and a better position starting the bike, I am still pleased with my performance ovesall and more than happy to have crossed the finish line on this day."

The 2.4 mile (3.8km) Pacific Ocean swim was a tough start to the day for Weiss. His goal was a 57 minute swim, which turned into 1:01 hours after losing the group. "It was not quite the time I had anticipated for myself,” Michael admitted. “Going forward I know I need to put more focus and energy into my swim."

Once on the bike, in position 50, the 3x Ironman Champion had some serious work to do. "I had great legs, I felt very good and executed my bike plan perfectly.” Over the 112 mile (180km) course Weiss averaged 300 watts and posted the 10th fastest bike split of the day. Michael entered T2 in 20th position to start the marathon run with good legs.

After 1 mile of running it was clear that a push for top 10 would be likely impossible. The extreme heat was taking a toll on the 34 year old athlete and at Aid Station 1 he did not take ice for cooling. "On Ali'i Drive it was unbearably hot, my body began to overheat and I was feeling ill and dizzy,” Michael recalled. "The desire to give up and just quit was very strong.”

But Michael did not pull the plug, instead he pushed through to the next aid station where he found ice and a fresh inspiration to race on. "I took ice at the next three stations and finally found my running legs again." After 8:44:30 hours Michael crossed the famous Ali'i Drive finish line.

“Today I was reminded why Ironman Hawaii has the reputation of being the world's toughest triathlon,” he said. “The race was a struggle for survival, and claimed many victims along the way. Ultimately, I just wanted to get to the finish line where my wife [Rachel] and coach, Garth Fox, waited for me.” The 2015 Ironman World Champion title went to Jan Frodeno of Germany and Daniela Ryf, Switzerland.

Michael will move onto the next training camp in Colorado Springs to prepare to defend his title at Ironman Cozumel at the end of November and still holds his goal of a top ten finish in Hawaii.

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© Michael Weiss, 2019
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