Ironman Austria 2014 – Beyond The Finish Line

Posted on July 16, 2014. Filed under: Austria, ironman, Ironman Austria, ironman tips, Klagenfurt, race report, race review |

Were the last 200 metres really 200 metres?  It mattered not to me.  The music got louder, the Venga Boys boomed as I approached.   The finish chute started well before the bleachers with a 90 degree right hand turn at the end.  As I ran up the blue carpet I high 5’d the crowd, shouting “THANK YOU” the whole way.  I can’t remember to who or why now but it wasn’t important. 0745_088947 Turning into the bleachers the noise was overwhelming, the lights blinding.  I could focus on nothing but not tripping over the ramp on the finish line.  All the sights became a blur, the music became a noise.  But it wasn’t a slow motion run like Steve Austin.  It was accelerated, an LP on 45, MY moment accelerating away from me but then I heard what I had waited a year to hear.   “DOUGIE FROM GREAT BRITAIN, YOU ARE AN IRONMAAAAAN”   Again.   I had finished a second Ironman.  I finished in thirteen hours fifty three minutes and twenty one seconds.  Slower than I hoped for but a PB of 1 hour and 5 minutes. 0745_093897 A volunteer put a medal over my head.  Job done.  Mission Accomplished.  Two time Ironman.   I stood and looked back at the finish line and a tall, distinguished looking volunteer put his hand on my shoulder and shook my hand “congratulations Ironman”.  Reading the race book the next day, I saw his picture.  He wasn’t a volunteer – he was the chief exec of Ironman Europe.  I will forget moments of the Ironman, and I will probably always be a sceptic of the WTC but I will always remember the warmth of my first congratulations.  THAT is how to be a leader.   Behind the bleachers , I saw Pam and Roar through a wire fence and got them beer and water from the athletes bar at the finish line.  They had as long a day as I had!   The night before as we debated travel plans I decided to let the sherpas have a fun day and volunteered to drive.  So unlike Regensburg where I sunk a pint on the finish line I would have to wait.  Let the waiting begin.   1865As I had approached the finish line I had noticed the sirens but only when I was walking towards the IronDome did I notice the steady flow of ambulances leaving the massage area.  The whole tent flashed with blue lights as an ambulance departed with some fallen Ironman every few minutes.  As I had felt, the heat had taken it’s toll.   In the Iron Dome I started to minesweep the food.  The first thing I came across was a pizza.  I bit it.  It expanded in my mouth like some kind of crazy foam, drawing the last drips of moisture out of my body.  I had to ram my fingers in my mouth to prize it out.  Then I had turkey and rice and a pint of coke.  I looked up at the big screen and the rain had started.  The rain was incredible, so incredible that I expect Noah was put on standby.   Wrapped in a foil blanket I picked up my change bag and proceeded to the shower.  As I stood in my foil blanket outside the shower portakabin two Irish chaps that I had seen many times around the course popped out.  “Well done Ironman”, was the mutual greeting.  Followed by “We are not designed for this fecking heat Dougie”.  Cue a lot of nodding of bright red baldy heads.   The shower block was like I imagine a Crimean field hospital.  At some point it was probably pristine but nearly 14 hours later it was Special.  Very Special indeed.  At some point, someone had used their foil blanket to separate them from the horrors on the floor.  By the time I got there it was like some kind of biohazard lasagne.  Everything that could be extracted from the body was trapped in those layers  – oozing, squidging below foot, smelling.  And the showers were blocked so in the tray was a diluted version of that bio sauce.  The showers were cold, freezing cold, but who cared?  I scraped the Lend canal, the road debris, the gels, the sweat and the flies from me.  And then I hopped (not really, I had just hobbled a marathon) from foot to foot as I attempted to get dressed without falling in the putrid muck.   Back in the Iron Dome I went to collect my t-shirt.  A volunteer started to hand me a large, winked and replaced it with an extra large.  It seems that after 13 hours I was still big boned. I met Michael and Nick, congratulated them and left them with their beers as I headed to another beer tent to meet Pam, Al and Roar and hear of Ness’s progress.  Because the weather had turned so foul I still had a foil blanket over my head so I could go anywhere without any challenge from security.  By now we had thunder and lightning so we watched the final hours of the Ironman from the beer tent, updating Iron Mobile on the ipad.  As soon as we knew Ness went through 40k, Al went out to the grandstand with a tiny lady brolly and we watched on the big screen in the tent.  We whooped as she came in but, heck, she didn’t half milk the finish chute experience.   I set off for the mile long walk to fetch the car still wrapped in my foil blanket.  It was about 30 minutes to midnight.  The run course was pitch black and it was difficult to spot the final, hobbling runners in the dark.  They were going to finish before cut-off so to each one I shouted “5 minutes and you’re home.  Good work Ironman”.  I saw one last running silhouette, under a bridge, just before I left the path.  A petite lady, on her own, in the pitch black.  “You’re nearly there.  You OK Ironman?”  Booming back from under the bridge “FUCK YEAH”.   Gulp.  Smokey.   Attempting to not drown from the bucketing rain helped me forget about my crippled feet but as I approached the car the adrenaline was wearing off and my purposeful stride degenerated to a hobble.  Ten minutes later, I had the whole sherpa crew in the car with Rory enjoying the sleep of a 3 year old Sherpa that had been dragged out of his bed at 4:45am.  But the athletics were not over.  Still, in the pissing rain, I had to recover my bike.  Unlike Regensburg three years before, when I had an “If I ever see that effing thing again……” moment, I had enjoyed the bike and could even contemplate future cycle trips.  However, I had to get the bike into the roof box.  I had to give Al instant tuition as the rain tumbled down on us how to remove the wheels and collapse the bike to fit in as I stumbled about like a stiff legged zombie.  It was a new record for loading the car.   Back in the driver’s seat and I took one look at Ness.  “Kebab and chips?”.  And there began 30 minutes of the saddest quest imagineable.    You cannot find anywhere to buy chips after midnight in Austria.  Or kebabs.  Austria’s dark secret.  The shame of a beer nation.  At that moment Austria slipped in my affections.  Back at the apartment we demolished a pizza, two large family sized packets of crisps and several beers.  And sometime after 2am we slept the sleep of Ironmen.  Uncomfortable, sun scorched and starving. 1871 Like every good Iron adventure the journey ended at the merchandise store on Monday morning. Hell, if you finish an Ironman you need the finisher’s kit to make sure everyone KNOWS ABOUT IT. 1809 And it’s not all about what happens out in the lake, in the canal or on the road.  Huge cheer for Pam, Al and Roar who were the best sherpas in Klagenfurt.  It turns out that all they need is beer, pizza, football and the Lego Movie.  Chapeau the sherpas.   And that’s that.  A few people have said that the Ironman Austria Odyssey has put them off Ironman.  I only write about the stuff that sticks in my mind, there are hours and hours of sublime “alone” time in the most beautiful countryside breathing fresh air.  Ironman day and the preparation for it is just the most special time.  Obviously it is tough.  If it was easy every one would switch off the X Factor, get off the sofa and do it.  But only the really mentally tough can manage it.  In my opinion, it is the ultimate self supported event for the ordinary Joe.  Ironman makes you your own hero.   The most common question I get asked is “Will you do another?”.  In the last two weeks of training the answer would have been a resounding “NO”.  Now it is “maybe”.  I have made peace with the Ironman; Regensburg left me frustrated that I didn’t do my best.  There is little that makes me feel as alive as I do when I am preparing for an extreme challenge.  So, while I have no urgent need to go long again, I am old enough and wise enough to never say never.   Hopefully in the next few days I can complete the Ironman Austria archive with Iron Nessie’s first time Ironman race report.  When I found her she couldn’t swim and still marvelled at the science of pneumatic tyres.  Now she is an Ironman.  However, English isn’t her first language so it might take a while.   It’s been a hell of a journey.  Again.  Ironman Austria, over and out.


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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10 Responses to “Ironman Austria 2014 – Beyond The Finish Line”

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I’m sad the write up is done and dusted. Been a fantastic read. Much RESPECT to you on smashing your PB. Very well done shipmate 🙂


Cheers Pirate! Look forward to joining you on the line on Saturday! I promise not to push you too hard before that other race!


I’m pretty gutted your blog is over, so you’ll need to sign up for another one. Thanks 🙂

While i’ve joked on your other posts that you’ve put me off the IM, you’ve not really – like childbirth (which I have never experienced but will irritate every woman who has by pretending I know loads about it anyway), you forget the pain soon after and think another one seems like a good idea, which is somewhat akin to IMs I reckon. No matter the horrors experienced (by yourself or others), they always seem like something that would be ‘nice’ to try.

Your blog has been great, and it is lovely to see you go through the emotions of the whole experience and come out the other side intact, happy and proud of your achievements. Very well done 😀


Thanks Lee. Glad you hung around for the journey.

Your turn next Buddy!


Eek! One day……when i’m not a big waddling porker that can last more than 5 mins on a bike without having a near coronary. You’ll have done another couple before I reach that point 😉


Always a fun read. Good job Dougie. Enjoy your recovery!!


Cheers Gerry. Feels like I’m on the verge of overdoing the recovery 😉


Damn you man, I’ll have to go long again now! Hearty congrats, I think it may tougher doing it the second time, as you know what’s coming. Two year gap should mean I only remember the good bits.
Cheers, Duncan.


A second one is the only way to roll Dunc. You should try some hills next time 😉


Well done on your second Ironman. Thanks for the reading it given me a good idea how you’ve made your journey and what you’ve gone through. Good luck for the next event you do, make sure you write about it.


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