Triathlon Magazine Canada - - TRANSITION -

AF­TER WATCH­ING MIRINDA Car­frae rip up the Iron­man World Cham­pi­onship marathon course last year, it seems silly to sug­gest that she might be the un­der­dog this year in Kona, but be­lieve it or not, the three-time champ is hardly the pro­hib­i­tive favourite. Daniela Ryf, run­ner-up in her de­but in Kona last year, has been rip­ping up cour­ses her­self this year, and any­one who saw her dec­i­mate what was sup­posed to be a com­pet­i­tive field in Frank­furt in July will con­firm that Ryf is the one to watch.

Ryf might be in­cred­i­bly strong on the bike and su­per solid in the wa­ter and on the run, but the rest of the women in the field cer­tainly aren’t ready to hand her over the ti­tle with­out a fight. Trail­ing by al­most 15 min­utes off the bike last year, Car­frae’s 2:50 marathon split was some­thing to be­hold. Who knows if she has a sub-2:50 in her, but you’ll have a rough time find­ing any­one who would bet against that hap­pen­ing. Ryf heads into Kona with the re­al­iza­tion that a 10-minute lead off the bike might not be enough – not an easy way to have to lead from the front.

And there are a few women who will be happy to keep her com­pany at the front of the race, es­pe­cially on the bike. Caro­line St­ef­fen is due for another big day in Kona. Melissa Hauschildt man­aged to best a strong field at the Iron­man Asia-pa­cific Cham­pi­onship in Mel­bourne and has sud­denly be­come a bik­ing force to go along with her im­mense run­ning prow­ess – a com­bi­na­tion that could make her a fac­tor in Kona. Jodie Swal­low won in South Africa ear­lier this year, guar­an­tee­ing her­self a spot in Kona to try and im­prove on her fourth-place fin­ish from last year. Le­anda Cave has been steadily gain­ing race mo­men­tum, push­ing An­gela Naeth right to the limit at the Iron­man North Amer­ica Cham­pi­onship in Texas.

Which brings us back to our Cana­di­ans. Be­sides Wurtele, An­gela Naeth’s win in Texas sig­nalled that she’s be­com­ing more com­fort­able over the full dis­tance (re­mem­ber, she won in Chat­tanooga last year) and is ready to com­pete at the high­est level.

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