At the twentieth edition of Ironman Austria, for the first ever time, there was an Austrian Winner: On his 7th attempt, Gumpoldskirchner Michael Weiss, made a dream come true by crossing Klagenfurt's finish line in first place.
Even a disappointing 10th place at the 70.3 European Championship in Denmark two weeks earlier did not derail him. Still taking confidence from winning 70.3 St. Pölten in late May, the TriRunners Baden triathlon club member went into his second home race more motivated than ever. Even though the competition was really strong with last year's 3rd place Ironman World Championship finisher David McNamee (GBR), as well as American multiple Ironman champion Andy Potts both on the start line, Weiss was a firm favorite.
As always, the 3.8km/2.4mi swim took place in the crystal clear Wörthersee. It was a wetsuit-legal race and Michi exited Lendkanal, the swim's final 1000m/0.6mi channel section, with his Blueseventy Helix neoprene suit in solid 52:04 and the 23rd pro out of the water.
Riding his Diamondback Serios he was able to catch the big pack which included Potts and the Russian, Ivan Tutukin, as well as the three Austrian athletes Reitmayr/Giglmayr/Steger within the first in the first 90km/56mi lap. At about the 60km mark (mile 37.5) he attacked at the base of the "Rupertiberg" climb and was able to break away.
Just minutes later, Michi was then also able to drop David McNamee who had been in third position. All he then had to do was catch the leading duo Wojt/Ackermann, both Germans. Weiss made his move just before the short steep climb up to Faaker See, where he passed them and took the the overall lead.
However, it was not until the second time up the Rupertiberg, that Michi was finally able to get a gap between himself and the two Germans. Just as he had done on the first lap, Michi chose to attack on one of the more technical sections leading into the base of the climb and was finally able to get the gap and ultimately went on to get a full 2 minute lead into T2.
Michi posted the fastest bike split of the day In 4:16:09, averaging 315 Watts over the 180km/112mi with 1700m/5700ft elevation gain. Coach Garth Fox's power file analysis is already online at www.srm.de
With the running speed you would expect from a 2-time 70.3 champion, Michi pushed the pace hard for the first half marathon averaging a pace 3:48/km (6:05/mi) and a 21.1km (13.1 mile) split of 1:20h. With more than a 10 minute lead ahead of his next competitor, Michi decided ease off on the pace on the second half of the marathon and shifted into 'control-mode'. A 2:51:39 split for 42.2km/26.2mi of running resulted in an overall time of 8:04:46. Weiss grabbed the tape 8'35" ahead of Russia's Ivan Tutukin and 9'39" ahead of 3rd place finisher, American Andy Potts.
"I am beyond happy and it will take a while for this epic victory to sink in. Many thanks to my family, friends, coach, supporters and sponsors, who have stood with me over the years. Of course I'm also very grateful to the event organisers and all the volunteers who all did just a really great job. Without them, Ironman Austria would not be possible. It's always special to race on home soil, but this year the cheering crowds were truly a reason for my success. I still have goose bumps hearing the crowds cheering me on! I should also add that I really appreciate the fact that the whole race was broadcast live on Facebook. We are in the time of social media, and in my opinion a more targetted reach can be achieved by using this modern type of channel, rather than 'old skool' TV, but what do I know!", laughs Michi Weiss.
Over the next 2 weeks, both physical and mental recuperation will be crucial,. Only after that, around mid July, will Michi gradually ease back into the training that will underpin the second racing period of the year: Resting combined with easy recovery training, massage therapy and ActiveReleaseTechniques will be on Michi's agenda, before going back to his 'triathlon office'.
Foto: Rômulo Cruz (Instagram: @rcruzworld)