I spent 13hr 45m dragging myself around Ironman Austria in 2005. It was a long, uncomfortable, emotional, painful, soul destroying and absolutely amazing day! For any triathletes you know the special buzz you get on race mornings – the training and prep is done, it’s all about bringing it together and delivering on the day and you’re buzzing with nervous tension and excitement. Standing on the Ironman start line takes it to a whole new level as you face up to the challenge ahead. I don’t think there is any feeling like it and as tough as that day was back in 2005 there’s something about the Ironman that, for me, is a little bit magic.
I still have unfinished business when it comes to Ironman. I set myself a goal of going under 12hrs at Austria and was on track until half way through the marathon when the wheels came well and truly off. I walked the next 20km with my best mate walking beside me and nearly got disqualified for ‘receiving outside support’! My primary goal was to get my hands on a finishers medal but deep down I wanted to break the 12hr mark so sooner or later I’m going to give it another go.
So recently I started to look at my options for completing a full IM race in Australia and found Port Macquarie sold out in days and Busselton sold out in a couple of hours. Basically if I want to complete an IM race this year I can’t do it in Australia. Surely Australia has the triathlon fanaticism, open spaces and facilities for three full IM races? I don’t think there has ever been greater demand for IM racing down under – races are selling out in hours and pro Aussie’s are dominating the big IM events. Head down beach road in Melbourne or the shire in Sydney and you will see TT bikes everywhere.
I stopped in at Swim Bike Run in Melbourne recently and was chatting with Jason Shortis, IM legend and top 15 finisher at Kona, and he mentioned that IM Melbourne has been approved by the WTC and is waiting on local government approval for road closures. He also suggested this was part of the reason Geelong lost their half IM event. A quick google search returns plenty of similar discussions on triathlon sites talking about a third IM race and Melbourne being the most likely destination.
So would IM Melbourne be a world class event? Absolutely. Locations like Busso, Port and Shepparton are fantastic for triathlon but they do have their limitations. Try and get yourself somewhere to stay in Busso or Shep 3 months before the race and you won’t find anything within 50km. Compare that to Melbourne where you have a wealth of hotels that could easily accommodate 1,000 – 1,500 competitors and their travelling army of fans. The course options are plentiful – docklands swim, beach road bike, esplanade run to name one combination and Melbourne has a reputation for delivering major events – Aus Open, F1, Grand Final.
Now I do acknowledge that all the above makes Melbourne a good choice but I would hate to see it mean the end of races like Busso and Port. I love the fact that Busso goes crazy for the IM, the people line the streets, the local hotels and restaurants do well, they even leave the course markings out all year round. You can imagine a lot of people in Melbourne would see the event as a real pain with roads closed for the whole day and it would take away some of the special vibe you get at other races around the country. Despite this I genuinely believe that if the competitor numbers are limited we could sustain 3 WTC sanctioned full distance races in Aus. I say WTC sanctioned as a reference to the challenge races (e.g Cairns) that have been announced. Nothing against the challenge events, it’s great to see some competition, but without Hawaii points up for grab and the associated prize money Australia would struggle to attract the top athletes from around the world.
So in short Melbourne IM gets my vote but the million dollar question is are the rumours true?