The slogan of the Ironman European Championships is The longest day of the year. In 2010, the event in Frankfurt, Germany will become indeed the longest day in the world of Ironman events, but also the shortest. How is that possible? Due to road construction on a segment of bike course the bike segment will actually be longer, but coincidentally the total time athletes will have to finish the event will be shorter.
A note on the ironmangermany.de site points out, “Due to extensive road construction in the city of Bad Vilbel, the length of the bike course for the 2010 race will be 185k overall.” The site further notes that the new altered section in Bad Vilbel is only available on race day and can't be test ridden prior to the race. To compensate for the change in distance, the race organizers have also adjusted the bike cut-off time. Through the 2009 race athletes had until 12:45pm to finish the first loop on the bike, but for 2010 the time has been moved up 15 minutes to 1pm. That though isn't as good as it sounds, as that now means that athletes will have 75 minutes less to do the run. Why 75 minutes? That would be 15 minutes taken from the beginning of the run and another 60 minutes taken from the end.
That latter though has nothing to do with construction, the total race time allowed for athletes has been coincidentally brought down from the already short overall cut-off at 11pm to 10pm in 2010. This change came to appease local residents in downtown Frankfurt according to tri-mag.de. The finish line party and atmosphere at the Roemer is phenomenal for athletes and family members alike but seemingly not to some of the local residents who had complained to the city about all the noise related to the race lasting until late into the night. To ensure that the race finish will not have to move from that spectacular location in downtown Frankfurt, race director Kai Walter has cautiously moved the final finisher time up to 10pm and that now means that athletes have only 15 hours to finish the 3.8k swim, 185k bike and 42.2k run, or what will now truly be the longest Ironman day of the year.
According to tri-mag, about 120 people finished the 2009 Ironman European Championships between 10pm and 11pm in 2009, so all the athletes who previously came to the line in that time frame will have to find an extra gear or two somewhere on the course in 2010 and deal with 5 additional kilometers on the bike on top of that. Quite a challenge to be sure.
120 also happens to be the number of slots for the Ironman World Championships to be awarded in Frankfurt.
The official website