Respect the hills :-)

Report for Ironman 70.3 European Championship Wiesbaden

From the web site:
Sparkassen Finanzgruppe IRONMAN 70.3 European Championship Wiesbaden offers a challenging, yet scenic course in southwest Germany. Athletes and visitors alike can enjoy one of Europe’s oldest ‘spa towns,’ with over 25 hot springs throughout the area. Southwest Germany is also known for world renowned wine and champagne producers.
Just one day before the best triathletes of the world fight for the IRONMAN 70.3 European Championship there is another great Sidevent! On Saturday morning the great stage on the Bowling Green is on for our little ones, the up and coming talents of the IRONKIDS. Kids and Teens from Wiesbaden and all over the world come together and have fun with a Bike & Run on parts of Sundays racetrack.

Location:
Lake Raunheimer Waldsee

Weisbaden, DEU

Event Age: This event started in 2007

Overall

Respect the hills :-)

Overall Report Topic Feedback
Event was organized
Event amenities (toilets, expo, start & finish area)
Event is friendly for people new to the sport
There is a lot to do in the area (sightseeing, shopping, etc.)
Scenic beauty of the course
Competitive field
I traveled from out of town for this event
I plan on doing this race again
I would recommend this race to a friend
Why did I select this event?: It so happens that Wiesbaden has a huge wine festival at the same time. It is billed as the worlds largest wine bar. I believe it. The big square in front of their main cathedral the surrounding streets, and connecting squares were covered in tables, chairs, and dozens - maybe a hundred- stands setup by area vineyards selling wine. The entire town of Wiesbaden and everyone in the region must come out to this - it is amazing! It's worth a trip, if only for the wine festival. Plus, a great IM event that still had open entries late in the season, when I found I would be in the area.
My Training: I was training for IMHI, so this was a great prep race. I did NOT do enough hill training prior to this race, though. The elevation is respectable, but for me, anyway, seemed more difficult than the numbers would indicate.
Comments: The race briefing was held in a beautiful concert hall in the Kurhaus. Typical race briefing - don't draft, don't litter, don't flip it out and take a pee in the public park. But this race, like IM Regensburg, had this complicated system of "cards." They had black cards, yellow cards, and red cards. Different rule infractions resulted in getting a different card penalty. Red = DQ. And different combinations of other cars - one black, to yellow, two yellows, full house, I don't know. I couldn't follow it, other than, peeing in the park gets you DQ'd, and it's best to follow the rules in German races. Check-in was reasonably organized. The race village was one of the biggest and most diverse I've seen. Had some great stands for beer and munchies. One of the great amenities this event had was a big trailer at the finish line, equipped with showers! Very nice! The split-transition is a bit of a pain in the ass, though. This means that the swim-bike transition is in a different place than the bike-run transition. We had to get my bike and my Run and Bike bags out to the lake and T1, which was half an hour drive out of the center, followed by a 2.5-2k walk down to transition. Not that it's too far to walk, just a bit of trouble to go through when you're trying to chill before the event.

Swim Leg Feedback
How difficult did you find this swim, compared to other events of the same distance and type?
The water quality was high with clear water and good visibility.
The swim course was well marked and safe, with adequate lifeguards.
Did you wear a wet suit?
I found the water to be calm and flat with little current or chop.
Comments: The swim is in the Raunheimer Waldsee. This body of water is located near some old industrial areas (some in the process of being bulldozed at the time), and is in the approach for Frankfurt airport. On the other end of the lake was a large multi-level mechanical contraption on pontoons. I'm guessing a dredger of some kind. My buddy who came with me was giving me a hard time about swimming in industrial runoff. Interestingly, the dock had a big sign that said in german, "No Swimming." And the water - it was neither brown and gritty/green and slimy (like IM AZ) and wasn't crystal clear like IM Regensburg. Instead, it was… well, I guess the only way to describe it is slightly "milky." This is a big race. 2500 people. So, they have wave starts that take a full hour to get through. Pros go at 7:30, my wave went at 8:25, so lots of time to kill. The swim was a similar 'boomerang' setup to IM Regensburg, where you swim diagonally across the lake, around a big barrier, diagonally back to the opposite corner (making a boomerang shape) then turn around and go back in roughly the same direction. This was different from Regensburg, in that it had an "Australian Exit." When we finished the first pass of the boomerang, we had to run up on the beach, over a timing mat, then jump back in and finish the swim. For me, swim went well. No goggle issues (picked up a GREAT new pair at the expo), held my line really well, got a couple nice drafts. I haven't been in the water much this summer, so expected a weak time, and wasn't disappointed.

Bike Leg Feedback
How difficult did you find this ride compared to other rides of the same distance and type (hills, wind, etc.)?
The ride was technically challenging.
The bike course was well marked and safe with adequate traffic control (if applicable).
The riding surface was relatively clean and smooth with minimal obstructions such as loose gravel, potholes, roots, and such.
There were adequate and well stocked aid stations on the bike course.
Comments: The bike course was fitting for a European Championship. I underestimated it going in. 1450 meters of climbing, which isn't the most, I don't think, but very respectable. I saw several people who looked more fit than me pushing their bikes up the tougher climbs. Rather than just one massive climb (thought here was one called "The Hammer") most of the course was made up of big, relentless rollers. It wasn't terribly different from my weekend rides in CZ, so that was good prep. But, still, a big ride. The best part of the ride is the last 5k or so. After spending 85 km of up-down, the last 5k shoots you down like a bullet into T2 in the center of Wiesbaden.

Run Leg Feedback
How difficult did you find this run compared to other runs of the same distance and type?
The run was technically challenging.
The run course was well marked and safe with adequate traffic control (if applicable).
The running surface was relatively clean and smooth with minimal obstructions such as loose gravel, potholes, roots, and such.
Comments: By the time I got on the run, it was getting warm, but not overly so. The run is 4 x 5k loops through a really nice park / green belt in the center of the city, so we were in the shade most of the time. We had a 4 loop course, and I really like this approach. It seems like it goes by faster, and it's easier for spectators to hang out and cheer. Each lap they give you something like a scrunchie to wear on your arm (different color for each lap) to help count the laps. That far into the day, you aren't thinking especially clearly, so something on your arm helps with the counting. Leaving T2 I felt really strong. Started running, found a nice pace to settle into, and (with my HR mon working again) I could see I was in high L 3/ low level 4, though RPE felt like I was at the bottom end of L3. I settled into a pace, and it felt sustainable, so I went with it, trying to settle my HR into high L2 when possible. First loop was steady and strong. I kept a close eye on my HR knowing I was low on nutrition. I also dropped a couple NUUN's into my water bottle to cover some salt. Second loop also felt good. Third loop started to get a little tough on the up-hill parts. By the time I got to 4km to go, I felt my stomach flip. I had a feeling that by the end of the day, I'd be heaving. So, I kept up only sips of water, no more calories for the last bit. Despite the shade, it did start to get a bit warm (77 F). Thankfully, each aid station had a big bucket full if ice water and sponges. Smack a couple sponges down on yourself, and that will keep you going...

Transitions Feedback
The transition area was setup in an efficient and organized manner.
The transition was secure and all gear was looked after.
Comments: Split transitions offer some nice options for the event, letting us swim in a lake out of town and have a great finish in the center. However, logistics for split transitions are a bit of a pain in the ass. That said, I think IM EU did a pretty good job of making it as painless as possible.

Closing Comments
Final comments: Great race, though you will have to earn it on the bike leg!
Feedback: Great event, especially being timed with the wine festival!

My Results

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