Maltese Triathletes conquer Ironman Austria

Monday, July 8, 2013, 13:50

In triathlon circles the word Ironman inspires excitement and awe and visions of people pushing themselves over their limits where digging deep, physically and mentally, is a requirement needed to cross the coveted finish line.

Undertaking a course consisting of a 3.8kilometre swim, a 180kilometre bike and a full marathon,the Ironman Austria Triathlon takes place in the lakeside resort city of Klagenfurt, in the summer sport paradise of Carinthia, where the usually crystal clear waters of Lake Worthersee turn murky with the failing arms and legs of over 3,000 athletes from 50 nations competing in what is one of the world’s toughest endurance races. Popular with Maltese triathletes, the fifteenth anniversary of Ironman Austria saw a mix of experienced and newbie triathletes taking part.

Out of the ten strong delegation, three athletes registered a personal best time and three athletes crossed the Ironman finish line for the very first time.

Current Duathlon Champion and Metamaterials Ph.D. student Michelle Vella Wood conquered the route superbly clocking a time of 10 hours 29minutes and 33 seconds, which was an improvement of twenty four minutes over her Ironman race last year. Her efforts saw her registering a seventh place in her age group and 34th overall placing  in a race dominated by professional athletes.  A very tough swim start, due to over 2,500 triathletes starting at the same time, was followed by a good well planned pace on the bike. Vella Wood continued her consistent performance in the marathon segment, with this leg being only 18 minutes slower than the standard marathon time registered this year.

From the seasoned pool of triathletes, Donatelle Camilleri made a great return to the route following an absence of five years and registering a personal best time of eleven hours, twenty three minutes and seventeen seconds earning sixth place in her age group category. Recently inducted Malta Olympic Committee Hall of Fame member Nicky Farrugia completed his sixteenth Ironman race, veteran William Brydon completed his fifth Ironman Austria Race, whilst Robert David Vella also registered a personal best time, returning to an Ironman after an absence of seventeen years. Unfortunately four time Ironman Finisher Mario Bugeja had to stop in the fifty fifth kilometre of the bike course due to technical problems on the bike. Steven Delicata, Suzanne Farrugia, Elaine Fenech and Maria Vella-Galea completed the gruelling course and took home their first Ironman finishers’ medal home.

“The Ironman experience does not start on race day but it starts months before. It is a journey full of personal sacrifice and requires determination and discipline. For some athletes it is all about getting a good placing, for others finishing is a victory in itself. There are many factors that one has to contend with on race day, mechanical failure on the bike is one of the major worries as is dehydration or injury” said Maria Vella-Galea, Secretary General of the Malta Triathlon Federation and first time Ironman finisher. “Crossing the finish line to me was a major victory, having had to cope with some injuries a month before the race. The feeling you get crossing the finish line is something that one has to experience to fully understand it”

A total of twenty five Maltese athletes will be competing in a number of Ironman races throughout the summer, making this approximately twenty five per cent of the current triathlon population in Malta.

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