With the clock ticking down to 14 days remaining and the release of the age group athlete start list overnight, it is time to turn our attention to IM Cairns. Yourironguide will be in Cairns this year to cover the race and hopefully give an aspect to the event that you may not have seen before - concentrating more on the age groupers and their stories we love so much.
IM Cairns is an interesting race as it began as a Challenge Family event back in 2011. Challenge only ran the race for a single year before it was taken over by Ironman in 2012. In each of the 4 years it has been held, the course has changed every year (some years much more than others). Even the transition locations have been moved. This year, the main difference from 2014 is the swim course. Athletes will need to have their eyes open for this swim with more turns than ever, especially on the way back to transition when tiredness is setting in. There is a respite around half way where competitors can get up on to the beach, check their progress against the field and then hit the surf for the second half.
The bike course looks to have taken out the substantial speed bumps in the first 200m of the ride. This may save a few bottles from hitting the tarmac and the screams of encouragement from the crowd for safely navigating them. The rest has remained very similar to the 2014 version heading to Port Douglas twice and taking on Rex Lookout 4 times. Athletes will need to be very weary of this rise as it is not the first time it hurts the legs but more on the last occasion so don't burn the matches early here!
The run course has also changed in 2015 extending further south along the esplanade to a single turn around point instead of a zig-zag pattern with plenty of 180 degree turns last year. Athletes will be happier this time around as not as many stop-starts to contend with when the legs are like blocks of lead.
A final word on expected conditions. Last year, Cairns delivered 24 hours of continual rain for the event. Mud, puddles and spray in the eyes was the norm for the day. You may have thought that this would slow the athletes however yourironguide has exclusively compiled the Pro and AG records over the last 4 years for interesting reading below. Not one record came from the first year (as a Challenge event) and 18 of a possible 25 records came from 2014. While it may have been wet last year, the winds, heat and humidity were not there to contend with. Beware athletes as Cairns may look picturesque but she can bare her teeth with very tough conditions. The bolded times below are the fastest ever pro and AG times recorded in the race's history and are truly amazing. The 10 hour barrier looms as a benchmark for AG females. 5 different female AG athletes have been within minutes of posting a sub-10 hour time but no one is yet to achieve it on this course - will this be the year?? We must say that all of the times below are truly remarkable! and while we applaud the ability of each and every one of them, the true IM athlete is the age grouper who overcomes personal challenges just to finish.