IRONMAN WORLD CHAM­PI­ONSHIP

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - Front Page -

Aftera few week break from all this triathlon ac­tion, the world triathlon scene will start hum­ming dur­ing the se­cond week of Oc­to­ber for the lead up to the 35th an­niver­sary of the Ironman World Cham­pi­onship in Kona, Hawaii. It re­mains the big­gest an­nual event in the mul­ti­sport world. Year af­ter year this race seems to get pre­viewed as “the best field ever,” which is of­ten true. The inf lux of a few Olympians who have made the move to long- dis­tance rac­ing af­ter Lon­don last year has cer­tainly added some in­ter­est­ing po­ten­tial to the list of pre-race favourites – not so much on the women’s side of things, but cer­tainly in the men’s race.

We’ll start with the women. Le­anda Cave re­turns to Kona as the de­fend­ing cham­pion, but to win a se­cond world ti­tle she’s go­ing to have a rough enough time with her fel­low- Siri Lind­ley- coached team­mate Mirinda Carfrae. Carfrae was a few hun­dred calo­ries away from run­ning her way to a se­cond world ti­tle last year in Kona – for the first time in her Ironman ca­reer she bonked on the run and strug­gled in for third af­ter catch­ing up to Cave on the marathon. Carfrae might not even find her­self in a po­si­tion to run her way to the ti­tle, though, if su­per-biker Caro­line St­ef­fen can avoid the penalty tent this year and ride away from the field as she seemed ready to do last year in Kona. Af­ter strug­gling in Mel­bourne ear­lier this year, St­ef­fen re­turned to her win­ning ways with a big win at Chal­lenge Roth. The list of le­git­i­mate con­tenders in­cludes Amer­i­can Mary Beth El­lis, who has won ev­ery Ironman she’s done other than Kona, Mel­bourne champ Corinne Abra­ham, who shocked the world with her big win down un­der in April and Rachel Joyce, who has rou­tinely fin­ished in the top five in Kona over the last few years.

Canada has a le­git­i­mate podium hope­ful in Heather Wurtele, who has moved through the ranks. She’s now much more than just an Ironman cham­pion. She will ar­rive in Kona as one of the women to watch now that she has proven she has the abil­ity in all three sports to com­pete with the world’s best.

As men­tioned ear­lier, Craig Alexan­der is a scary com­peti­tor the year af­ter he hasn’t fin­ished as well as he’d hoped in Kona. Last year’s back is­sues kept him from his best in Kona, where he fin­ished 11th. At 40, though, Alexan­der is fac­ing a tough ask in his search for a fourth ti­tle. While he’s not to be dis­counted, there are lots of men who will be all-too- de­ter­mined to take the ti­tle them­selves. Lead­ing that charge is de­fend­ing cham­pion Pete Ja­cobs, who has been steadily build­ing to­wards a ti­tle de­fence in Kona af­ter some early sea­son run in­juries slowed his train­ing. That, be­lieve it or not, is good news for Ja­cobs – he was slow to build into last sea­son be­cause of a foot in­jury, too, and that worked out pretty well for the Aus­tralian. Eneko Llanos has been on fire in 2013, with wins at the Asia- Pa­cific and Euro­pean cham­pi­onships ear­lier this year. If he can main­tain that form through Oc­to­ber, he’s your cham­pion. Then there’s the Rael­ert Broth­ers ( yes, the cap­i­tal “B” is there for a rea­son – they’re so good they have be­come their own brand in Ger­many). An­dreas has never fin­ished worse than third in Kona, but many pre­dict brother Michael is even more tal­ented. Se­bas­tian Kienle was, in many peo­ple’s minds, a f lat tire away from win­ning in Kona last year ( he fin­ished fourth). If he is over the health is­sues he faced this spring he’ll be fright­en­ing on the bike again this year and an­other fac­tor. Add Olympians Be­van Docherty and Ivan Rana to the mix and you have the mak­ings of a close, fast race on the men’s side.

While Canada prob­a­bly won’t have a Cana­dian com­pet­ing in the men’s pro race in Kona, we’ll no doubt be aptly rep­re­sented by a num­ber of age group com­peti­tors, es­pe­cially by last year’s TMC Triath­lete of the Year Mi­los Kos­tic, who is go­ing af­ter his sev­enth straight world ti­tle. So there you have it. Six weeks of cham­pi­onship rac­ing. For triathlon lovers, it doesn’t get much bet­ter than this.

Op­po­site top right Se­bas­tian Kienle rac­ing the 2012 Ironman World Cham­pi­onship

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