Wiesbaden IM70.3 EM, 2015

Quite unexpectedly there were still entries available, so I spontaneously decided to go for this one.
You live only once and when there’s a shape, then there’s a race, … so f*#@ the money (291,-EUR) and pack your bags!
As a bloody rooky I had done Wiesbaden in 2007 – my first 70.3 and the first time the race had been held. But since then, and that’s some time ago, the swim and bike courses had changed severely.
In contrast to local races, such as last week’s Heidelbergman, the Hoo-ha of registration/briefing/checking-in/etc. consumes nearly the complete day before the race. Along with the hot weather, suboptimal nutrition, and all the tension, this part actually became a sizable pre-race effort.
After a very short night’s sleep and a smooth travel to Lake Raunheim the gun went at 8:10 a.m. for a rather easy “rolling start”. This new system may take a bit out of the original excitement but certainly makes things safer: So, thumbs up for that one.
Unfortunately, there were a few overly ambitious chaps in the water, who challenged me to settle a few things in combat style.
Lake Raunheim is in the direct line of huge passenger planes approaching Frankfurt airport. This caters for frequent and bombastic noise levels as well as strong whiffs of kerosene on the water surface. Someday, this lake will catch fire.
Along with a healthy dose of sand in shorts and shoes I disposed of the wetsuit and hopped on the bike.
My plan was to enter the split easy (in contrast to my usual balls-to-the-wall tactics) but then not to save up in order to gauge my training results for current bike/run abilities. The plan turned out to be matching as the bike course is rather challenging. There are a bit more than 1400 ascending meters to be taken care of, which is on the upper scale for a 90km bike split. In particular the climb up to the “Platte” (basically the initial climb up the hilly range called the “Taunus” behind Wiesbaden) takes a strong physical, as well as psychological toll: The road is wide, long and steep.
Accordingly, the descents were fast and technical. My trusted, cheap-as-hell Speedometer frequently displayed figures beyond 80km/h.
I was very impressed seeing the leading pros coming in ahead of us at a two lane spot. These people are so fast that their bikes make piping wind-noises – mind, on a spot going slightly uphill. Clearly, for these athletes the aero-equipment makes sense.
After completing a hilly loop through the Taunus, the bike split ends with the super-fast descent from the “Platte” right into the inner city of Wiesbaden.
My transition went precise and quick and I immediately slipped into a solid running pace.
The course consists of four laps through a park, slightly climbing one way and slightly descending coming back. There are many spectators along the course and the positive energy helps a lot. As for this being my strongest discipline, I was able to gather position after position. At the finish line this resulted in 12th of my age group M50, which went perfectly OK for me, in particular (but not only) this being a European Championship. My plan had worked well and I was rather surprised to see how much gas there still was in the tank after a rather uncompromising bike split.
My entourage was also very pleased participating in this adventure, featuring lots of sun, memories and great food.
I shall now spend some time to recover and, all being well, there is one more peppered block of training waiting for me to polish my shape for the upcoming IM in Barcelona.
A wonderful sport!

Rage hard
Alex Crook