The 2013 URBAN Hotel Group IRONMAN® Asia-Pacific Championship Melbourne will not only feature arguably the greatest Ironman athlete of his generation, three time Hawaiian Ironman champion Craig Alexander, but it will also feature the man who has covered the 226km of an Ironman faster than anyone in history.
Belgian Marino Vanhoenacker will be saddling up in Melbourne for his first Ironman of the season and his first ever Ironman race in Australia.
In 2011 Vanhoenacker set the Ironman World Record delivering a 7:45:27 masterpiece at IRONMAN Austria.
To put that in perspective it means for the 3.8km swim he covered each 100 meters in 1 minute and 12 seconds, he averaged 42.30kph for the entire 180km bike, and ran each kilometre of the marathon in 3 minutes and 46 seconds.
And while Alexander showed that, given the right weather conditions, the Melbourne course is a fast one, breaking the magical eight hour mark last year, Vanhoenacker doesn’t think a new world record is on the cards.
“Sub 8 hour is something really unique, a lot of factors have to be extra favourable for that, and it’s really early in the year,” he said.
“So this is one thing, but breaking the Ironman world record means we have to go down to 7:45,
and I honestly don’t see this happening at the end of March. I hope the other guys think a bit similar otherwise I will have big trouble over there, ha-ha.”
After hearing other athletes rave about the Melbourne event Vanhoenacker is excited to be racing, and visiting, Melbourne for the first time.
“It’s my first Ironman in Australia and I’m excited to be racing there, and it’s my first visit to Melbourne and I can’t wait to discover the whole adventure,” he said.
After a slow start to the year Vanhoenacker believes that by the time he reaches Melbourne he will be ready to race, and race fast.
“My fitness dropped deeper than ever before after my misstep in Hawaii (after leading off the bike he failed to finish) it really hit me hard,” he said.
“Coming back was also a lot harder than usual but I guess I should have seen that coming. I had one three week training camp in Stellenbosch (South Africa) which was really bad first half and better and better in second part. Since then things have started going into the right direction and now with traveling early I believe I will make it in time to get where I want to be.”
Vanhoenacker is coached by two time Ironman World Champion Normann Stadler, he says Stadler is one of the reasons he’s had so much success over his career.
“It saves me a lot of stress and work, he helps on all different parts of the sport, but most important to me is the fact that it is easy (or not necessary) to explain a lot of stuff since he has been around for ages,” he says.
Over the last few months the issue of drugs in sport has dominated the headlines, and Vanhoenacker believes in a zero tolerance approach.
“As a top sportsman we should not avoid this topic although I hate the whole thing, I have always had one belief, no drugs, when caught you are out and no second chances.”
The URBAN Hotel Group IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship Melbourne will be held on Sunday, March 24, 2013.
The 226km race will take place in Melbourne’s South East and Bayside suburbs. The course will include a 3.8km swim in the Frankston Foreshore, a fast and smooth 180km bike on the EastLink motorway and 42.2km Brooks run from Frankston to the URBAN Hotel Group IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship finish line, located at the iconic St. Kilda Catani Gardens.
For further event details: www.IRONMANmelbourne.com.