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Belgium’s Marino Vanhoenacker will face off against three-time Ironman world champion Craig Alexander at the 2012 Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship in Melbourne, event organizers announced today.
Vanhoenacker, who owns the current Ironman world record for his 7:45:27 2011 Ironman Austria win, will compete in an Australian Ironman for the first time at the March 24 race.
While Alexander showed last year that, given the right weather conditions, the Melbourne course is a fast one, breaking the magical eight hour mark last year, Vanhoenacker doesn’t think a new world record is on the cards.
“Sub 8 hour is something really unique, a lot of factors have to be extra favorable for that, and it’s really early in the year,” Vanhoenacker said in a press release.
“So this is one thing, but breaking the Ironman world record means we have to go down to 7:45, and I honestly don’t see this happening at the end of March. I hope the other guys think a bit similar otherwise I will have big trouble over there, ha-ha.”
After hearing other athletes rave about the Melbourne event Vanhoenacker is excited to be racing, and visiting, Melbourne for the first time.
“It’s my first Ironman in Australia and I’m excited to be racing there, and it’s my first visit to Melbourne and I can’t wait to discover the whole adventure,” he said.
After a slow start to the year Vanhoenacker believes that by the time he reaches Melbourne he will be ready to race, and race fast.
“My fitness dropped deeper than ever before after my misstep in Hawaii (after leading off the bike he failed to finish) it really hit me hard,” he said. “Coming back was also a lot harder than usual but I guess I should have seen that coming. I had one three week training camp in Stellenbosch (South Africa) which was really bad first half and better and better in second part. Since then things have started going into the right direction and now with traveling early I believe I will make it in time to get where I want to be.”