Ironman St Poelten
Time of year: May
Value for money: 3
Crowd support: 4
PB potential: 3
Course: 1-lap, 2 lake swim!, hilly 1 bike course and a flat 2-lap run
Competitors: Approximately 2000
Locality: St Polten is a town in Northern Austria, about an hour from Vienna by car. It’s a beautiful area and a lovely place to stage a race like this.
Getting there: The best way to get here if you’re travelling from abroad is to fly to Vienna and then take a train or hire a car. From Europe it is well connected by train and road.
My experience (2015): It was great to come back to this race, finally, after 6 years of racing and with a lot more experience than before. The course has changed since I last came, for the better I must say!
I loved every minute of my day here and it was my first race with a power meter, which was pretty exciting too 🙂
My experience (2009): It was my first race of this distance and after driving in from Brno with my girlfriend we were happy to see that the sun was shining and all was good. We arrived and the first thing I realised what that I’d left my pump at home. I borrowed a pump – noticing what a great atmosphere there was around me as I I did so. I started to pump up the tyres before taking my bike to transition – and burst the rear one! What a start! I didn’t want to use my spare so I took it to the bike repair centre in the IronVillage where they charged me 15 euro to buy and fit a new one, as well as give my bike a quick service.
I have to say that I was well impressed with the organisation at the venue and the look of the race course. I couldn’t wait for the next day.
The only slight negative for me and my family was the pasta party, which was very noisy and the food was very average. We felt that it was over capacity too, and it would be good if they had a maximum capacity in the tent which didn’t seem to happen. However, it was good to soak up the atmosphere and see some of the pros, as well as see the race course and get even more excited.
I don’t usually drink before a race but knowing that I had to get up at 4.30 for breakfast, I decided to have a glass of wine to help me sleep and went to bed at 9.30pm.
I was the first one of my party into the breakfast room in the morning and noticed that the hotel even had Ironman napkins which started psyching me up from the first bite of my cheese roll. Then my parents, girlfriend and her parents joined me and we left for the race at about 5.45am.
Anyone going this year, I’d allow yourself plenty of time to get into the car park, as this was a streeful time for me and I decided to leave the car and jog to transition to ensure my bike was prepared and I knew exactly where my T1 bag and bike was. Then I got stressed just before the start and ended up running to the start line and throwing on my wetsuit with just enough time for a quick warm up swim – at least I didn’t have time to be nervous!
The swim was great, well-organised and exciting. It was special as after about 1000m you have to get out and run across a bridge and jump into a second lake – superb. The weather as we finished the swim was turning nice again (my swim time was 34mins) as the clock struck about 7.55…..
The start of the bike was amazing for me, cycling out of town on a closed motorway. I really felt like an athlete here, and I think that everybody feels a bit special on these big occasions. It was also nice that everyone cheers you on and the atmosphere during the bike ride was wonderful. The single 90km loop was a factor for me in choosing this race as I don’t much like doing lots of loops and I thought the scenery and the diversity of the course was really good. After the motorway you go into the vineyears and then cycle by the river for about 20km where it’s nice and flat before turning up intoa big climb – if I remember rightly it was about 15km of climbing. I met another English guy on the climb, and it was good to have a little chat and help each other up there.
By the time we made it to the top of the hill I was ready to get off the bike for my favourite part – the run, and the reason I wanted to try this distance event. Is the half marathon harder after a bike ride? I rode down the hill and into town and by now the sun was quite strong and the temperature was rising. (bike was 2h47mins)
Coming out of transition, I felt really strong and the two loop run course was dead flat, which suited me, and I managed a 10k time of 40mins. By now I was hot and getting tired, but I had a bit of banana and picked up a gel and a drink at every aid station and finished the run in 1h25mins. I surprised myself with a finish time of 4h56 and got a shower and massage – Now I had become an Ironman!
I can only say thanks very much to all the organisers and staff at the event, which was superbly run and everyone was very friendly. It was the biggest of the events I did last season, and though I would love to do another one this year it still seems that I might be sidelined for some time yet.
Anyone going for their first time on Sunday, enjoy every minute of it and I hope your day is as special as mine….