(c) Lalo Badillo

The Woodlands as a barometer

On his third attempt in the posh suburb of The Woodlands, Texas, north of Houston, Michi arrives 100% ready and in top form.

After withdrawing from the race in 2016 in the concrete jungle of Texas due to three flat tires and finishing seventh in his second attempt in 2019, he is aiming for a top result this year. Since 2016, the former Colorado resident has been staying with the lovely family of trail runner Ronnie Delzer in Texas.

The qualification is feasible

The Americas Championships, with a total prize money of $175,000 and 5 World Championship slots for both women and men up for grabs, is the most richly endowed IRONMAN event after the World Championships itself.

Six weeks after the IRONMAN African Championships in South Africa, Michi completed a solid training block with high volume in his home country over four weeks. He feels positive about the optimal preparation after about 400 hours of total training over the winter. Thanks to good work and remaining injury-free, Michi was able to train for the last two weeks before Texas in Cozumel, Mexico. He had optimal training conditions for open water swimming, a perfect time trial course around the island on his Scott Plasma, and running under the Mexican sun, staying first with friends and then at the El CozumeleƱo Beach Resort. The heat played a role in Mexico as always, so Michi listened to his body towards the end and adapted certain intervals according to feeling.

Michi feels very strong in all three disciplines. Consistency is a major factor in swimming. His watt values are back on target on the bike, and he was able to optimize his time trial position once again. Despite the intensity, the total volume was raised by another 20%.

The Texan course - murky waters, high-speed bike course, atmosphere on the run course

The swim takes place in the artificially created murky Lake Woodlands. Visibility is always difficult in the early morning, but the field is large enough to find a group. The bike course is located on the Hardy Toll Road, a speedy highway. Due to the longitudinal grooves, it is necessary to be careful on the course, which has to be completed twice out and back. It can get crowded with age groupers on the second lap.

When running, it is necessary to push for three laps around Lake Woodlands. Many spectators on the course through Hippie Hollow give an extra motivation to the athletes. The slightly hilly, winding running course along the trees by the lake and the canal suits Michi well.

Conditions with high humidity of over 80% are expected for the first main competition of the year. It is currently very hot but should cool off again somewhat towards the competition with maximum values of up to 32 degrees.

There will be about 35-40 professionals on the starting line, with new dad Joe Skipper likely to be the favourite. Strong North American athletes such as Matt Hanson, Cody Beals, and Rudy Von Berg are also participating. "Race buddies" Arnaud Guillox and Cameron Wurf, with whom Michi has started together many times before, are also mixing up the field. The starting field is familiar to him, he can estimate them, and has already competed against all of them. On a good day, he plans to shake up the competition on the bike from behind in his well-known manner. The goal is definitely a top 10 finish, with an eye towards an even better placement.

Start: 06:25 a.m. local time (1:25 p.m. Gumpoldskirchen time) - live on Facebook IRONMAN

IM Texas preparation in Cozumel