Despite the disappointment of last year’s race, going back to Ironman Frankfurt was a no brainer. Above and beyond anything else, I had a point to prove. Last year, double punctures scuppered my chances of grabbing an elusive Kona slot and I was back to have another crack, with new tyres of course. This race should be at the top of your list if you are competing for a qualifying slot, due to the number on offer. Traditionally it has 100 slots allocated across all the age groups which is twice the number usually offered at the other European race. Of course, having missed out last year, this year there are only 75 slots. Bollocks! Then there are the logistics. Cheap, direct flights from Heathrow (if you fly BA, your bike is part of your baggage allowance), an easy transfer by train from the airport to the centre of Frankfurt, plenty of good value hotels, and race HQ a mere 10 minute stroll down the banks of the river Main. And then the race itself; superbly organised (you’d expect that from the Germans though, wouldn’t you); fast, closed roads; great spectator support; a flat run course; and a spectacular finish line. It is also the IM European Champs, which sounds good too! Living about 20 minutes from Heathrow, it’s cheap and easy for my wife to drop me off at Terminal 5, and so it was at 6:30 on Friday morning, the 6th of July, we said goodbye. She gave me hug and wished me good luck, followed by ‘and happy anniversary for tomorrow’. Aaagh! I knew there was something bugging me. Still, if I could pull off the biggie, I’m sure I’d get away with it.
The finish line, expo area, and race HQ are all based in and around the Romer, one of the old historic parts of the city, the rest of it having been, er, redeveloped by the RAF in WWII. It is, however, a two centre race, with the swim and T1 taking place about 15km out of town at the Langener Waldsee, and T2 and the finish at the Romer, down town. The organisers lay on free buses, to transport you and your steed from the centre to T1 for bike check in and racking, the day before the race, and on race day morning.
This is my only gripe about IM Frankfurt. Queuing with a load of similarly anxious people, for a bus at 5am on the morning of the race, does little to abate the requirement for immediate bowel evacuation. A word on bike check in and racking: you get your own personal assistant that guides you through the whole process, carries your kit for you, goes through a check list with you, walks you through swim in and bike out, and then covers your bike up in a nice IM branded bike protector, and all in perfect English of course. Top draw service.
Friday night is pasta party night, and here it is one not to miss. It is held across town in a massive sports arena, but a couple of thousand people make for a great atmosphere. The food is great and loads of it too. Minimal queuing, and as much energy drink or Alkahol Frei lager as you can stomach. Before going in, I meet a certain Macca who was doing the sponsor rounds. He is small and tanned.
Saturday is taken up with bike check in and kit check, then it’s teatime and an attempt to get some shut eye before the early start. Tomorrow is going to be a long day.