Airlie Beach's Michael Kimpton has just represented Australia in the 65-69-year-old group in the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Nice, France.
Airlie Beach's Michael Kimpton has just represented Australia in the 65-69-year-old group in the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Nice, France. Monique Preston

World Championships a buzz for local ironman

REPRESENTING Australia at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in France was like nothing Michael Kimpton has ever experienced before.

The 65-year-old is no stranger to Ironman 70.3 events, but the competition in Nice proved to be different to his Australian experiences.

Firstly, the sheer size of the event and the number of competitors it attracted - 2200 women and 3400 men - was something to behold.

"It was awe-inspiring how big it was,” Kimpton said.

"I was gobsmacked. You don't experience anything like that (elsewhere).”

The cycling and swimming parts of the race also proved a challenge, with conditions very different to what Kimpton has been used to training or racing in previously.

The beach in Nice where the swim started is covered in rocks.

While organisers put carpet down over them, Kimpton said it was still a challenge getting in and out of the water.

"It was embarrassing getting in and out of the water,” he said.

"I was an ironman and I was crawling on my hands and knees.

"Give me sand any day.”

The actual 1.9km swim itself went well for Kimpton, and he finished that leg in seventh position for his 65-69 years age group.

Next was a 90km cycle, with much of it involving summiting - and then riding down - the Col de Vence that involves a total elevation gain of a staggering 1367m.

"A few people asked did I look how scenic it was (on the ride). I did - on the bus (the days) before,” Kimpton said.

"I was just concentrating on the road.

"It was good to get to the top. My legs were burning.”

The downhill ride also proved a new experience for the Airlie Beach resident who has never ridden on a mountain like that before.

"The downhill was treacherous,” he said.

"A lot of people (competing) are experienced in that sort of thing and go fast. I didn't.”

However, Kimpton did reach a top speed of 60km/h on the downhill stretch.

"It was quite exhilarating going downhill because you didn't pedal that much.”

The final leg was a 21.1km run along the promenade in Nice, which was lined with thousands of spectators.

While his bike riding leg was slower than usual, the run was faster than the time he recorded in the qualifying event in Cairns.

"I finished well,” Kimpton said.

"I didn't walk and that was one of my targeted objectives.”

Kimpton finished the 113km race in a time of six hours and 31 minutes.

It was enough to see him place 41st of the 79 competitors in his age group - a result Kimpton was pleased with.

"It was pretty special,” he said.

"It really was a buzz. I was absolutely rapt.

"It (competing at the World Championships) is something I never thought I would be doing.

"It was remarkable.”

Next on Kimpton's hit list is to compete in an Ironman 70.3 at Lake Taupo in New Zealand in December.

It was a competition he had booked earlier in the year before cementing himself the spot to compete in France.

"I'll have a bit of a rest after that,” he said.