A non-wetsuit swim and warm temperatures will make going under eight hours at Ironman Texas a tough task.
Will a sub-eight-hour Ironman happen in Texas this weekend? Rasmus Henning says it’s possible. The Danish athlete, who first broke the time barrier at the 2010 Challenge Roth, hopes to secure his second sub-eight-hour performance at Ironman Texas.
The race, which will take place in the Houston suburb The Woodlands, will be held this Saturday, May 19. A competitive professional race is expected, with the men’s race featuring three-time Ironman winner Jordan Rapp, 2011 Ironman St. George champion Mathias Hecht and British Ironman record holder Paul Amey.
At the inaugural event last year, Eneko Llanos won with a time of 8:08:20. Henning believes he can beat that time.
“This is a fast bike course,” Henning said in an interview with Triathlete.com after today’s pro panel, “There is no other course like this in the United States. With a good run, [a sub-eight] is definitely possible.”
Rapp agrees, pointing out the roads are mostly flat and smooth with few sharp turns. He also believes the impressive competitive field will be a contributing factor in the men’s pro race. Rapp cites Llanos’ performance at 2011 Ironman Arizona, a 7:59:38 win, as an example, saying that a competition between Llanos and Amey fueled his fast performance.
“We are all racing hard out there,” adds Henning, “In this race, it is not likely we will have strong winds [like Ironman Arizona] that might normally cause someone to drop back and be more cautious.”
Though winds will likely not be a factor in Saturday’s race, a major impediment to a sub-eight performance may be found in the heat. The weather is expected to be in the high 80s and humid. Warm conditions are also expected to affect swim times. As of Thursday afternoon, water temperatures in Lake Woodlands were at 84 degrees; meaning that most likely both pros and age-groupers will be left to race without wetsuits.
If a sub-eight time takes place in Texas this weekend, it will be the first time an athlete has broken that mark without wearing a wetsuit in the swim.