Australians are fittingly the hot favourites to win the 30th anniversary of the Toyota IRONMAN Australia at Port Macquarie this weekend.
The men’s race is shaping as a battle between previous champions in Australians Pete Jacobs (2011), Paul Ambrose (2012) and Luke Bell (2013).
Meanwhile in the women’s race the smart money will be on 2012 champion Michelle Gailey or last year’s runner up Lisa Marangon, in an all Aussie show down.
There could be a dark horse in the men’s race in the shape of three-time ITU world champion, fellow Australian Peter Robertson, who was third at IRONMAN Cairns last year.
Jacobs, who has struggled to recapture the form that saw him win IRONMAN Australia in 2011 and go on to claim the World Championship in Hawaii the following year, will be hoping for a return to his best.
“I’m very happy to be going back to this race which will be big for the 30th Anniversary. I’m looking forward to stepping back through time over the weekend,’ he said.
He expects the race to come down the run leg, with the outcome being decided by a case of “whoever slows down last wins.”
The 2012 champion Ambrose will be looking to go one better than his 2nd place finish last year and believes his faultless preparation will have him well placed to claim the podium’s top spot.
The 30-year-old is looking forward to testing his legs over what he describes as ‘one of the few honest courses’ on the IRONMAN circuit.
“Winning the 30th anniversary race would mean the world to me,” said Ambrose. “I've taken a lot of races half-heartedly, even this one in the past, but I’ve sacrificed a lot this summer preparing for this one.
“I want to give this race the effort it deserves. It has so much history and deserves nothing but my best.”
Last year’s runner-up Marangon believes she is in the shape capable to go one better and claim her first IRONMAN title at Toyota IRONMAN Australia.
“I wasn’t that far off in 2014, so that has been driving me,” she said. “I did my first IRONMAN as an age grouper at IRONMAN Australia in Forster and ever since then it has been my dream to win it.”
Gailey would love nothing more than to win her second IRONMAN Australia title in the event’s 30th year.
“Port Macquarie is one of my favourite courses to race, it is tough, honest and the atmosphere is amazing,” she said.
“To win IRONMAN Australia on its 30th Anniversary would be really special, I have really been enjoying training especially after a few health issues it makes even more exciting just to be out and toeing the line this year.”
Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events Stuart Ayres said: “We look forward to welcoming athletes from across Australia and the world this week when they come to NSW to compete in the Toyota IRONMAN Australia Port Macquarie.”
“This event has been proudly secured until 2018 by the NSW Government, through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW, ensuring it remains a key fixture of the NSW Events Calendar and a highlight of the international IRONMAN circuit,” he said
Race day on Sunday 3 May includes over 1800 age group athletes chasing their own personal bests.
The professionals start at 6.30am for the 3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42.2km run, with the winner expected approximately 2.45pm local time.