2008 Frankfurter Sparkasse Ironman European Championship
by Scott Kinner
Thursday July 3rd
7:30 am: ARRIVE IN FRANKFURT
Flights to Europe typically leave the US in the early evening and arrive the next morning. You are supposed to sleep on the flight as much as possible to adjust to the time change. Well I think I got just over an hour of sleep so needless to say, when we arrived, Suzy and I were a bit tired. You could tell immediately that Ironman Germany was a big deal to this city because there were Ironman flags and banners outside the international terminal at the airport…very cool.
We took the train from the airport to the Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (main train station) in downtown Frankfurt and walked the three blocks from there to the hotel. We looked ridiculous. There was Suzy and I dragging two roller bags and a bike in a box wearing backpacks and wandering the streets of Frankfurt – but we were almost there. We turned the last corner and there it was. The Intercontinental Hotel (the Race Hotel) decked with banners, vans out front with Ironman logos, team cars for the pros, etc. We Made It!
Lucky for us our room was available when we arrived at 9:00am so we could crash for a few hours before continuing with our adventure.
About 12:00pm Jason called our room followed a few minutes by Gretchen. One by one the group was arriving, tired but smiling and excited. We all met downstairs and walked the mile up the river to the Ironman Village/Expo to pick up our race packets.
The IM Village was located in the Romer Platz which was the original city center and location of Frankfurt’s first city hall. It’s definitely a destination for anyone visiting Frankfurt but this week it was a particularly important destination for over 2,300 international triathletes…it was the finish line! What a place. Workers were building a stadium right in front of our eyes out of scaffolding that must have been 30 to 50 rows high. Yep, this was going to be a great event.
Friday July 4th
By that morning everyone had arrived. As our families and friends were back home celebrating the Fourth of July, we were all gathered in Barry’s room to assemble bikes and take a test ride to ensure everything was working. By the time we got back, it was late afternoon and time to head for the pre-race meeting and pasta dinner across town.
The dinner was held at the arena where the Frankfurt hockey team plays. Once again, you could tell by the facilities and set up that this race was a big deal.
The energy and excitement was growing. Looking around I suddenly got this nervous feeling because I realized that on Sunday morning I would be swimming with and competing against all of these people.
We got back to our room at about 10:30pm. We had just got into bed and turned off the lights when we heard a number of explosions outside the window. We looked out and to our surprise there was huge firework display over the city. We weren’t sure what they were celebrating, but we knew what we were. So we just sat back, relaxed and watched the display. Happy Fourth of July!
Saturday July 5th
Today, there were only two things on the agenda: Check in the bike with transition bags and rest.
This race is a bit different from many Ironman races. The swim is in a lake about ten miles south of Frankfurt. You get bussed to the lake on race morning, swim, ride your bike from the lake through the city and then head north into the hills. You ride through nearby villages before heading back to the city where you turn back out for a second lap through those villages and hills. Finally you return, leave the bike and run along the riverwalk, crossing over two bridges to complete four laps before turning off to finish at the Romer Platz.