This year the Ironman 70.3 World Championship was held in Port Elizabeth, South Africa on a cold and wet Sunday 2nd September. Michi Weiss has been on the start line of a 70.3 Worlds on one previous occasion and that was back in 2011 in Henderson, Nevada where he finished a superb 4th overall. This year he would be going toe-to-toe with some of the best triathletes - Jan Frodeno (GER), Alistair Brownlee (GBR) and Javier Gomez (ESP) - ever to have graced the sport.
The 1.9km swim took place in a rather cold (18C) Indian Ocean in Nelson Mandel Bay. Michi lost 5 minutes to the fastest swimmers but as soon as he climbed onto his Diamondback Andean race steed he was in full-on hunt mode and immediately began making his way through the field. The road surface was far from ideal though and did not lend itself to the most comfortable riding, as Michi points out, "I knew that the 90km bike route would be extremely hard, even in practice you were really shaken up by the poor road suraface, which is not how it is back home in Austria where the roads are silky smooth!”. Still, Michi put together a really strong bike leg posting a split of 2:08:16 which got him up into the top 15 and coming out of T2 he found himself in a group which included local hero James Cunnama. Now although Michi has repeatedly demonstrated great run form this year, the question mark overhanging this race was whether or not that stellar 1:07:32 half marathon that Michi posted just one week previously to take victory in 70.3 Zell am See, would detrimentally affect his run performance in this race. In the end the answer was no because he still managed a great half marathon time of 1:10:45 even after what was a really tough bike leg, once again showing that this TriRunners Baden athlete is currently one of the fastest bike-run specialists in triathlon. Michi crossed the finish line in 9th overall in a time of 3:50:39, racking up his second top 10 finish in two starts in a 70.3 World Championship.
Austria's most successful long distance triathlete lost just over 14 minutes in total to the new World Champion from Germany, Jan Frodeno (Olympic champion Beijing 2008, 2X Ironman world champion and now 2X 70.3 world champion). "It's a little bit frustrating to be schooled like that in all three disciplines, but you know, Jan is an extremely talented and hard working athlete and, quite frankly, it just gives me more motivation to get out of bed everyday and work on closing those gaps. It is a gradual process but I am a pretty good learner!” laughs Michi.
Michi will now go on to compete in the Südkärntner Triathlon and 70.3 Cozumel before the biggest goal of the year, the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii on October 13th.