Ich Liebe Dich, Österreich

Posted on July 6, 2014. Filed under: escape from alcatraz, escape from alcatraz 2012, first time ironman, ironman, Ironman Austria, ironman regensburg, Klagenfurt, race report, race review |

I have a purple security bracelet on my right wrist.  I haven’t needed it for 6 days but taking it off is final acceptance that my Ironman campaign 2014 is done.  And I’m not ready for that yet.

This isn’t my race report.  It is the prelude to a race report.  An amusee bouche, if you like.  The fluffer.

Now, as a prologue to the prelude I should make something clear.  I like detail in a race report.  When bloggers recommend taking a seat and pouring a coffee I get excited.  When I say pull out a case of rioja, your biggest glass and many tubes of Pringles, I AM NOT JOKING.  I have previous with multi-installment epics from Ironman Regensburg 2011 and Escape From Alcatraz 2012.  Just to read this blog in it’s entirety will be a herculean effort – I recommend wearing your HRM and having gels at hand.

Back in July 2013 I kicked off the journey to Ironman Austria explaining the reasons that I was coming back for Ironman 2.  As I travelled across the North Sea I finished the pre Ironman story making peace with what would come.  Que sera, sera.  But this is the story of the main event – converting a year of training into a long day out in southern Austria.

There will be details as there will be revelations.  Some mundane, some shocking stuff – what dumbass idiocy did I manage to do in this Ironman?  What is Ironman Austria REALLY like? What does the inside of a portaloo look like 13 hours into a hot, steamy ironman?  What is the darkest secret that the Germanic countries don’t want us to know?  Also, there will be human stuff.  I helped my buddy, formerly known as Shakey, to prepare for Ironman Austria.  I think we can now call her Iron Nessie.  But what is it REALLY like for a first timer who has just learnt to swim?  And cycle.  And is barely competent at staying on her feet.

But most of all it is the start of a love affair with bella Austria.  Possibly the fairest of them all.

So, the literal road to Klagenfurt started as we rolled off the overnight ferry from Newcastle.  The journey took the same route down the Rhein as Regensburg before it with stops in Bacharach and Dinkelsbühl before crossing into Austria at Salzburg.  As this isn’t some kind of travelogue, I’ll leave the details for another time and another place but three things on the journey are worth mention:

  1. I love the Dutch.  They are incredibly polite and great fun but those crazy, doped up hop heads need to stick to bicycles and get off the motorway.  From Scotland to Klagenfurt and back covering over 1,800 miles I can safely say the Dutch are the loon drivers of Europe.  Erratic speeds, no indication, random changes of direction.  Put down the spliff and get on the bike, guys.  Unless, of course, you build hills.
  2. With the notable exception of Amsterdam, Holland is dull.  From Amsterdam to the German border there is nothing of interest.  The Dutch are the masters of reconstructing the land – why they stopped at the polders I’ll never understand.  Now, Nederlanders, you have done the difficult bit by reclaiming the land from the sea.  It is time to take your finger out of the dyke and build  some hills, and maybe plant some trees.  Just anything but flatlands and motorway gantries.
  3. Autobahns are terrifying.  When sitting at 90mph in a very heavy 4WD and a car coming past shoogles your fillings out you know the going is fast.  My favourite moment however, was when a Ferrari came past at 110mph with a painter’s Transit tailgating him at about 6 inches distance from his ass.  Not sure that impressed the much younger chick in the passenger seat.

Anyway, it is safe to say as Europe transitions from north to south it becomes infinitely more interesting and as Germany runs out of miles the mountains get higher and the lakes get bluer.  Somewhere in mid Bavaria, Europe evolves from pretty to downright sexy.  It’s not always an easy journey – I am a fan of Germany and the German people but sometimes a commonplace road sign, like Dachau, chills the soul and causes a moment of quiet reflection.  As Hartley said, “the past is a foreign country”, and for me it is difficult to reconcile that distant land and those distant people.

As we ran out of Germany, Austria started.  Magnificent Austria.  We visited Salzburg which was twee and genteel.  Home of Mozart and all that.  But the high alpine pass we took through the Alps, the Großglocknerstraße, was like The Sex Pistols to Salzburg’s Mozart.  I can’t explain in words the majesty of the mountains, the jewel like lakes, the high alpine meadows or the bowel churning, arse clenching near vertical single path roads.  Let’s just say we broke the car.

And then we were there.  Iron Village, Klagenfurt.  Nestled in the mountains, perched on the edge of the milky blue Wörthersee, spliced by the leafy Lend canal.  Populated by loons.  I was conspicuous by my denial of compression wear.  And Vibrams.  And full race kit three days before the race.  All the weird and wonderful of the Ironman world were there, in their armour, ready for war (registration).

Registration was teutonically efficient.  We checked into the dorms of the Catholic Boy’s School.  Ness and Al arrived.  Stiegl was drunk.  We were ready for Iron Weekend.

Now is an opportunity to recharge your gel flask and maybe have a massage while I write up the swim.


 Auf Wiedersehen Pet

Ich Liebe Dich, Österreich

Ironman Austria 2014 – The Swim

Ironman Austria 2014 – The Bike

Ironman Austria 2014 – The Run

Ironman Austria 2014 – Beyond the Finish Line


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7 Responses to “Ich Liebe Dich, Österreich”

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Write faster, i want the whole report!!!! 😛

P.s. Very well done 😀


Thank you! It’s on its way!


On pins & needles waiting for next installment!!


It’s coming Gerry. Just trying to remember all 13 plus hours of it and edit it down from real time 😉


Love your writing. I’ve enjoyed reading these past months. Hurry up and sign up for another race please. Oh and where’s that race report?


It will be delivered piece by piece! Thank you very much!


Love the little truck. Nice Foreplay report mate, now get cracking with the proper one 😉


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