The Ironman Austria swim course is an easy-to-navigate course thanks to the simplicity of the layout of the course and to the clear blue waters of Lake Worthersee. The only downside is that the sun will be in our face after the 2nd turn buoy. Karel and I have swam in the lake twice, with once being at a similar time as what we will experience on race day. We specifically wanted to see if we could find a landmark(yellow house and trees) instead of looking for buoys to help us navigate our way into the canal in the direct sun. Although, we have a 90-100% chance of rain and thunderstorms on race day so who knows what the sun will look like on race morning.
In 2014, we had a mass swim start at Ironman Austria - if you look at the swim picture, you can see three red docks - I started after the furthest dock away from the swim course and happened to swim my fastest swim time to date - 1 hour and 10 seconds. This year, we will be starting with a rolling start, which I absolutely love because you are able to swim with athletes of a similar swim ability. We I am not sure where on the course (between which docks) we will line-up based on predicted swim times but every 5 seconds, 10 athletes will enter the water. This should take about 20 minutes for the entire field to cross the swim start line. I plan to start with the 55-59 swimmers in hopes of finally breaking that 1 hour swim time that I have been chasing for the past 10 Ironmans.
The water is clean, fresh and cool. I can't think of a better place for open water swimming as Lake Worthersee is like a big pool with great mountain views.
Loving my fast Xterra Vengeance full wetsuit!
As for the distances on the swim course, we swim 1230 meters to the first turn buoy (buoys on our left), make a left turn, then swim 470 meters to the next turn buoy and make another left. Then we swim 1100 meters to enter the canal and then 1000 meters in the canal, which spans about 20 meters wide.
Although the lake is clear and fresh, the canal is an entirely different open water swimming experience. Perhaps it's nothing out of the norm for a "normal" lake but there's nothing normal about swimming in Lake Worthersee.
Above is a pic of the canal on a normal day.
Here's a pic of the canal on Ironman race day.
Although the canal continues on toward downtown Klagenfurt, we exit the water behind the Hotel Seepark. We have a very long run to the transition area and based on years past, you are not allowed to remove your wetsuit until you enter the changing tents in the transition area.
As for the run course, I just love this course. Two loops, lots of changes in terrain (sand, trail, cobblestones) and a few "bumps" on this flat course to wake-up my climbing legs.
The run starts through Europa Park which is lined with spectators. We then make our way toward the lake and head on a sandy trail (which then turns into a paved bike/run trail/path) to take us to the town of Krumpendorf. The run course includes a lot of turns which makes things exciting as there are only two stretches of road which require us to run for more than a mile without a turn. On race day, there will be fans everyone and many of them enjoying a cold beer while cheering us on. The aid stations are located every 2-2.5 K which is about every 1.2-1.5 miles.
This course is super spectator friendly as we pass through the same place (near Europapark) 4 times. Well, 5 if you include the last pass through as we make our way to the finish line.
The 2nd long straight section that I mentioned is along the canal as we head to the town center of downtown Klagenfurt. We have a good 2 miles on this road with only 2-3 "bumps". Overall, it is mostly all flat.
We go through a tunnel which is nice if the sun is shinning. Based on the predicted weather, this tunnel should keep the rain off our backs for a few seconds.
While I can see how this downtown section may throw people off due to the constant change in terrain (cobblestones) and a lot of running up and down curbs, through building, etc. I absolutely love this section and can't wait to run here on race day - twice!
We run around the 16th century dragon fountain around mile 10 and then around mile 22.
After exiting the town center for the 2nd time, we have one last run back to the lake before making our way to the finish line (left turn by the water). It's a long straight away to the finishing chute and finally, we can make one last left hand turn to enjoy the party at the finish line.
(2013 Ironman Austria finish line)
Can't wait to cross this line on Sunday!
Although this will be my 11th Ironman, every Ironman start is worth celebrating.
The finish is just the reward for a body that stayed healthy enough to train and race for 140.6 miles.