It may be just half the professional distance, but today's Ironman 70.3 Germany in Wiesbaden still represents a worthy challenge for Faris al Sultan - the German event's defending champion and Team Abu Dhabi Triathlon captain. While 3,000 triathletes from 41 countries will tackle the 70.3's 1.9km swim, 90km bike and 21.1km run disciplines, al Sultan is one of few with realistic podium expectations.
"Five weeks before Wiesbaden last year, I dropped out of Ironman Germany mid-race and I've always said you're only as good as your last race," he said. "The 70.3 was a chance to prove I still had it and it gave me a lot of satisfaction to win - it was a huge relief as this event is incredibly important." Al Sultan dominated last year's proceedings, but the half-German, half-Iraqi is expecting a tougher race today.
"The race is at its limit, logistically there's not enough space for more competitors. We'll start in waves, but the transition areas will be packed. The competition is good," he said. Al Sultan's training for this event involved crossing the Alps via bike - in a week. "I don't know about my running and swimming shape, but I'm confident on biking," he said. "To cross the Alps we cycled eight hours every day for five days and that type of training affects your speed in other disciplines, but I'm sure it will be an interesting and exciting competition."
Team Abu Dhabi Triathlon's Andy Boecherer joins al Sultan in the men's division, while Ina Reinders and recently married Andrea Steinbecher represent the UAE-backed team in the women's competition. "One of the world's top three female triathletes, Yvonne van Vlerken, is expected to triumph, but Ina and Andrea will defin-itely be eyeing the other podium spots," added al Sultan. email@example.com