Can one laud this race too much? Possibly, but that would be hard to achieve! The event is small, lovingly organized in family style, yet with German perfection, and set in a splendid location, not least because it is just 15km from my bedroom. I confess that I have a special connection to this event. It was here that I triathloned for the first time, some six or seven years ago. For me, there is a straight line leading from the Steinheim sprint to IM Frankfurt.
Back to yesterday. I had entered the „heavy“ category, which is 700-30-7,5 (metric). The weather was fantastic, not a cloud in sight, with temperatures of > 25°C in the afternoon. I checked in my few belongings and set up my transition stuff. Before I could adjust the front wheel, the paparazzi were already on my bike:
I had a second breakfast and waited for my start wave, wandering about the arena, meeting my teammates and giving unsolicited advice to newbies. While the first groups were already on their way, our coach and I gave a last-minute interview to a young, enthusiastic reporter from the Marbacher Zeitung, the main sponsor here. Then it was time to change into fight attire. My singlet is awfully tight, but it held, much to my satisfaction. (I have bought this long before I came across my current fashion guru, Gi Singh). My warm-up routine before a sprint consists of a short jog, followed by several 10sec-sprints, just to give the body some advance warning that something’s coming up. Then the people from my wave gathered at the poolside and waited for the last participant of the preceding wave to finish. In a bockwurst race as this, there’s alway someone who still has 200m to go when most others have left the pool – nothing bad in this! The 50m-pool, by the way, is the central watering hole in the Wellarium, a spacious, gracious open-air affair including a wave pool. We were six in our lane, four from my club and two others. We quickly agreed on a starting order, swam a few meters and, at the shot, off we went. I went in fourth place and started with a quick 150m, Marc-Andre always at my heels. I then settled into a quiet rhythm and concentrated on a long stroke. After another 100m, I finally got rid of Marc-Andre and soon overtook the slow guy. About 500m into the heat, it was my turn to be passed. I held my position for the last 200m, tried to accelerate on the last 150m and rested my legs on the last 30m. Out of the water, I ran to T1, towelled my feet and put on my shoes. I always struggle with these, therefore I prefer to put them on before mounting the bike. The bike ride was fast and furious. If I have been overtaken, I haven’t noticed. According to the result list, I advanced 25 places on the bike ride. According to my Garmin edge 500, at an average of 34km/h. The draft helped with hydration: the drink in my bottle, which after 2h in the sun was all but scorching hot, became cooler with every km. The route, which goes over three loops, has a few harmless ascents, one short and steep, the other, a mean, long, flat one with a constant headwind. About 2/3 of the route is on agricultural single-track roads, which have the nasty tendency to intersect at rigid right angles. A guy from my club confirmed rule 64 the hard way… I was lucky this time and frightened the hell out of the marshals at the get-off line, which I barely touched with my toes. The bike parked, I slipped into my Zoots, reserved for distances up to 10k, and limped off. It took me several hundred m to settle into a decent running pace. Halfway through the first of three rounds, I hit the hill, which cost me considerable strength on the upside. Luckily, I could accelerate well on the descent and conserve the increased leg-turnover for most of the flat part, until I hit the hill again on the next round. In my third round, a bunch of youngsters in neon-bright singlets frustrated hell out of me. I had been overtaken by a few people, but these „hyper-efficient insect“ look-alikes (G. Singh) just flew by as if I were standing still. One last struggle up the hill, another roll down the other side and then I preserved the speed into the stadium. A right turn this time, after two left ones before, down the finishing straight, under the shower arch and into the final funnel.
And then the big moment, highlight of the mz3athlon and a major motive to return every year: probably the best cake buffet behind any finish line! I have no photos, because I was too busy munching my way through these delicacies. Halfway through this carbo-high, I noticed Martin (cf. rule 64 above) and his aching shoulder. He was quickly and efficiently cared for by his wife, who received a special award at the ceremony for her (and his) pains. He nonetheless reached 3rd place in his group. Another surprise was our coach, who finished nearly last. I had seen him pushing his bike with a decidedly gloomy face and had assumed he had quit. He had got a new tire instead and heroically finished the race, after a 30 min interval. Rested and rehydrated, I got in line to get a massage by a pair of young women from the Therapiezentrum Siegele, whe proved as strong and merciless as they looked friendly. They made me suffer the hill all over again, but I probably have to thank them for a record-speed muscular recovery. After the massage, I returned to the Wellarium to have a shower and meet the wife and kids, before I went back to get my well-earned cup of coffee – a cup to keep, this time.
At long last, honour to whom it belongs: my heart-felt thanks to all the people who made this event possible, and unique – year after year!