A mass professional field of 42 athletes will head to picturesque Ballarat, all chasing gold IRONMAN 70.3 Ballarat, an historic gold mining city in Victoria on 13 December.
Leading the charge on the December 13 race will be event ambassador Luke Bell and former IRONMAN World Champion Pete Jacobs
Melbourne based Annabel Luxford will take on Yvonne Van Vlerken (Netherlands) and Beth Gerdes (USA) in the battle of Ballarat.
After claiming the world title in 2012, a mixture of ill health and injury has prevented Jacobs from regaining top form. His main aim for 2016 is to again challenge for the world title in Hawaii.
"My first aim is to win and be consistent over 70.3 racing for six months, then I’ll approach the IRONMAN beast based on how things are going, but I’ll be aiming for winning form in Kona one way or another," Jacobs said.
Bell, who lives in Melbourne, is looking forward to what will essentially feel like a hometown race.
"I look forward to getting back and racing in Ballarat. Growing up, going to school, playing many early sporting events and racing triathlons around that district holds great memories. Ballarat was always seen as a "sporting hub" when I was a kid," Bell said.
Ballarat brothers Jamie and Ben Huggett will also be in the mix, with Jaime showing some recent good form with a sixth place at IRONMAN 70.3 Sunshine Coast in September. They’ll be joined by German Per Bitner, and Aussies Clayton Fettall, seventh at Sunshine Coast and Casey Munro who was fifth at IRONMAN 70.3 Mandurah.
Luxford goes into the race as favourite ahead of IRONMAN specialists Van Vlerken and Gerdes, fresh of her first visit to the big dance in Hawaii.
"Ballarat is in a region of Australia that I have yet to explore and I'm excited to check out one of Australia's biggest inland cities," says Gerdes. "I have heard great things about the city of Ballarat as well as the race and I thought it sounded like a perfect opportunity to wrap up my 2015 year of racing."
Australians Andrea Forest, second at IRONMAN 70.3 Port Macquarie, will also challenge for a spot on the podium as will IRONMAN 70.3 Gurye champion Sarah Crowley and Jessica Mitchell (fourth at IRONMAN 70.3 Port Macquarie.)
Over 1,X00 age group athletes will be chasing racing at IRONMAN 70.3 Ballarat.
The iconic IRONMAN® Series of events is the largest participation sports platform in the world. Since the inception of the IRONMAN® brand in 1978, athletes have proven that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE® by crossing finish lines at the world’s most challenging endurance races. Recognized for excellence through distinguished events, world-class athletes and quality products, IRONMAN has grown from a single race to a global sensation with more than 190 events across five unique brands: IRONMAN®, IRONMAN 70.3®, 5150™ Triathlon Series, Iron Girl®, IRONKIDS®, and Multi Sport Festivals. For more information, visit www.ironman.com.
Image courtesy of Barry Allsop