On his 8th time attempt, the man from Gumpoldskirchen, Michael Weiss, finally got the top 10 finish at the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii that he has been chasing all these years. He crossed the finish line in 8:11:04, just 18 minutes behind Patrick Lange, who successfully defended his title from last year.
Weiss, a five time full Ironman winner, laid the foundation for his record day with a solid swim split of 54:14 over the 3.9km Pacific Ocean course.
"In contrast to last year, this time around I was able to stay in a group. The shoulder injury from the crash I had back in March 2017 has now completely healed and was no longer a factor ," said a very happy Weiss. He exited the water In his Blueseventy PZ4TX wetsuit with, amongst others, the eventual runner-up, Bart Aernouts from Belgium.
It was no secret that Michi's bike shape going into this year's race was really good having posted a new bike course record at his last race in 70.3 Cozumel just 2 weeks before Hawaii. His bike split of 4:11:27 on the Big Island, just 2 minutes off the fastest split of the day posted by Australian uberbiker Cameron Wurf, goes into the Kona record books as the 2nd fastest bike performance ever recorded in Hawaii.
"The conditions were perfect and equipped with the right tools - my Diamondback Andean and new HED Vanquish 8 wheels - I was determined to take advantage of them," said a jubilant Weiss. Every second of that stellar bike performance was measured by Michi's SRM Origin Powermeter and has since been analysed and made available by his coach Garth Fox here: http://www.srm.de/news/triathlon/ironman-world-championship-2018/
Michi climbed off his bike in 4th position overall and started the marathon right on the heels of World Champion Patrick Lange.
"I really did not want to start the run at the pace that Aernouts and Currie (NZL) wanted to so I held my ground. At this early stage in the run you never quite know how your legs are going to react after a really focused bike effort like that. Even Lange was holding back at that point, preferring not to get caught up in such a blistering pace right out of T2," notes Michi.
The triathlete from TriRunners Baden stuck to his chosen pace and was still holding on to a top 10 position with just 10km to go.
"When Andy Potts (USA) overtook me after the Energy Lab and I dropped back to 11th place, I thought, that's it. I just could not run fast from about the 20 mile marker, mainly because I really started to feel the heat at that point, It was only the encouragement from my team and the energy I got from the crowds in general, who were just fantastic as always, that got me through that really tough patch," says a grateful Michi.
That effort paid off in the final few hundred metres when Michi overtook Spanish short distance superstar Javier Gomez Noya. "I could not believe it when I saw Javier just up ahead on Ali'i Drive. Even though the multiple world champion seemed to be having some problems, I had to go super deep and just give anything I still might have left in the tank - which I can tell you, at that stage was very little!" says a relieved looking Michi. Without once daring to look behind in that last ditch sprint effort for the finish, Michi he crossed the line with a run split of 3:00:02, totally exhausted but with a Kona podium for the very first time and just 32 seconds behind 9th and and only 90 seconds back to 8th.
After two weeks of recovery, Michi will be resuming training in Austria in order to be fit for Ironman Cozumel on 18 November. His primary objective there will be, of course, to get a coveted Kona slot for 2019!
Photo: Timothy Carlson