Return to a happy hunting ground – IM World Championship St. George is calling
The date is May 1st, 2010: at the inaugural staging of IRONMAN St. George, a certain Michael Weiss is on the starting line. This race is of huge emotional importance to him. In the morning it's ice cold, on the bike, arm-warmers are even necessary. However by the end it's roasting hot and Michi celebrates his first IRONMAN victory.
He also has fond memories of his last race in St. George at the 2018 IM 70.3 where he finished third with the fastest run split, another top result just behind Lionel Sanders und Sebastian Kienle.
Back in the here and now
Michi was plagued by toothache before 70.3 Oceanside. The race didn’t go as well it could have and therefore a visit to his old dentist in Colorado Springs was called for. The result was that a dental operation had to be performed to extract a molar and since then he has been doing much better.
Training at altitude in Colorado was Michi’s daily routine for years and this time he was able to put in two weeks of excellent training. The joyful visit of his bride-to-be Chrissie and two little girls Maya and Lola allowed the family to celebrate Easter together.
A World Championship-worthy course
Michi left Colorado at the same time as his family but for a short trip to St. George where his task was to check out the swim, bike and run courses.
The swim course: a circuit of Sand Hollow Reservoir to swim, the water is very cold at just 13-14 degrees – definitely wetsuit legal.
The bike course: consists of one round of IRONMAN 2010 plus the Snow Canyon climb from 70.3 St. George – nothing new here.
After a hilly start then passing downtown St. George and going out along Old Highway while climbing over 1000m in 90km without really noticing it, the aged road-surface does not improve conditions here.
This is followed by a long and exposed descent where strong gusts of wind are to be expected, leading into Snow Canyon National Park with its red rocks providing a perfect photo backdrop – the climb up here is made to measure for Michi.
After this comes the newest part of the course, along a bike path leading to T2.
The run course: is easily explained but very challenging with lots of elevation, its twice out and back, 60% of the course is terra nova.
A special feature of this World Championship is that there are two different transition zones, one at the swim exit and the other in downtown St. George.
Challenging weather conditions
The highest point of the course is at 1450m above sea level. The air is very dry in Utah however the desert climate can lead to quite hot conditions. Michi has already seen it all in St. George. Moderate temperatures in the morning, heat from the early afternoon to the evening, also the wind can play a deciding role.
Temperatures varying from 10 to 30 degrees are possible, bad weather is seldom, but if it turns bad – it’s really, really bad! St. George is different and simply cannot be compared to Kona, the mystical World Championship venue.
World Championship Facts: 8 pro slots for the Kona World Championship in autumn are up for grabs, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the top 8 athletes will take these, some athletes have already qualified so we can expect many rolldowns (the slots will pass on to the next best-placed athletes).
The conditions here will suit Michi for sure. Despite many dropouts (Jan Frodeno, Patrick Lange, Javier Gomez etc.) the pro field is still heavily stacked. Top favorites include Sebastian Kienle, Lionel Sanders, Sam Long along with the speedy Norwegians Gustav Iden and Kristian Blummenfelt.
Michi’s goal is very clear. As at every World Championship he wants to finish in the Top 10. The preconditions couldn’t be better as the work done at altitude went very well, Michi stuck with tried and trusted methods and did his usual solid preparations, you know what they say – Never change a running system!
St. George – here comes the Boom!