My Ironman journey started last year, when it seemed a good idea to join a group of Lincsquaders who had signed up for IM Austria. So it became a winter of base training many wet rides and getting into a routine of swimming before work. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go to New Zealand in February to do Wanaka 70.3. This gave me a real marker of progress, and realisation that I had a lot more work to do. There was no way could I of done a second lap of that bike route. Coaching from Steve Clark and a great week in Mallorca tri camp, saw my mileages ramp up as we came into UK race season. I had a great weekend in May in Llanberis competing in the Savage, in typical Welsh weather. I went out to Austria feeling as prepared as I could be. Nicola and I made a road trip, travelling to Klagenfurt in our camper and setting up our base in the campsite a couple of hundred meters from the IM village and transition. Of course the campsite was full of other athletes, bike envy started early, but it was great to talk to so many other athletes, first timers and multiple IM Austria finishers. I really recommend this site for anyone thinking of doing this in future. Having arrived on Tuesday before the race, I had plenty of time check out the run and bike routes and enjoy the fantastic swimming in Worthensee. As this event has seen Non Wet suit temperatures in recent years, I only swam in skins, the water was 23 to 24 degrees and amazingly clear. As race day approached the other Lincsquadders arrived, Steve Clark, Steve Grocock, Gareth Crabb, Steve Dobber, Dave Hinch, Richard Olsen and Rob Woodcock. Supported by our respective partners. Much banter and a sweepstake running to calculate the total cumulative time of us all. It was great to have the experienced Ironmen from the club to get last minute tips from. After registration, the race briefing, the Irongirls event. Mrs Dobber leading the Lincsquad team to glory on the finish line. It was now time to take bikes to transition. The organisation was amazing, even had young lady to lead me to my transition point. I had a great rack position on the lane with red carpet and almost at the end, so will be easy to find my bike. Run and Bike bags put on the racking. Starting to worry if I had everything I needed, but will have to go back in the morning to top up tyre pressures and put drinks on bike etc.
Race day, the campsite started to come to life about 4:00 am. Determined to stick to my plan, waited until the alarm went off at 4:30, quick shower and pulled on my Lincsquad Tri-suit. Headed off to transition in the early morning light with all the other athletes. You could sense the apprehension and the excitement amongst the other atletes. I returned for a good breakfast and Yorkshire tea, then it was off to the swim start. I was amazingly calm and felt ready. I met Dave and Dobber as we shuffled down the funnel towards the rolling start. Into the water and off. The rolling start, meant I was quickly into clear water and overtaking people very soon. Feeling good I was soon at the first turn buoy after 1.4k, and then another left turn to head towards the Kanal. Swimming directly into the sun, it was really hard to see, there were swimmers going in all directions. Was I going the right way? Should I be following them? I had practised this earlier in the week, so stuck to my own convictions and approached the Kanal straight down the centre. The Kanal is narrow, shallower and churned up. The bun fight removed by the rolling start, was just transferred to the Kanal. I took a left hook to my face, my goggles nearly coming off in the process. Finally pulled out of the water by the marshals and off to transition. A glance at my watch to realise that it had been stopped at 20 minutes! It must have taken a hit in the water, by a stay arm. I had no idea what time my swim was. A quick restart of watch in transition so that I could at least measure bike and run. The bike route is known to be fast and only a few hills. The definition of “hill” is all relative. East Riding and North Lincs is flat, so after several undulations on really good road surface we arrived at first hill. OK it was not too bad, if they are all like that, I will be fine. I was taking on a bite to eat and drinking every 20 minutes or so. I saw a sign Feedstation 1KM, then a hill. The feedstation was at the top, a gathering of supporters cheered us up. I realised the feedstations were at the top of every hill. So every hill without a feed station, was not actually a hill. End of first lap, 3 hours, happy with that, feeling good. Out for second lap, big cheers from Nicola and the other Lincsquad supporter crew. 10Km into second lap, it started to chuck it down with rain. Feet were quickly soaked and rain splattered glasses quickly got the demons on my back, could I get round in this rain, will it continue for the run….. I started to slow noticeably and the hills of the first lap had become longer and steeper on the second lap. I stopped for a pee and gave myself a talking too. Now more comfortable I headed off for the end of the lap. I had purposely been training with my watch set in KM, as the KM count goes down quicker than miles! Headed down the last straight towards transition, I heard Mrs Dobber shouting, looked up and overshot the dismount line. So onto the run. Off into unknown territory. It is 4 years since I last ran a marathon. Only 4 x 10k. I set off through the park, quickly into a comfortable pace, but thinking am I going to quick. First 10k done and feeling good beyond the 2nd, shouts of encouragement from each of the other team. I knew I must be gaining on Dave Hinch, but then the wheels fell off. The 3rd 10k was more walk than run, I was overheating and my stomach was churning. As I came back into the Europa park, Nicola and Mrs Dobber gave me shout. “only 2 more park runs”. That made me smile and pick up my feet back into a steady run. Heading off back into Klagenfurt town centre, I clattered the bell in the square on the way through and back. There were so many people cheering and drinking beer in the bars that lined the main street. Cold Beer, only 5k to go. I kept steady, just grabbing water at the feed stations. As the sound of the finish line got closer, it was hard to keep my emotions in check. Turning into the finish, the music pumping, crowd cheering and hearing Richard Anness you are an Ironman gave me the biggest smile on my face ever. Completing in 13:33, was fantastic. Three weeks later, I know I can take some time off that. Just need to decide where.