It’ll be a battle of the long course specialists versus the sprint distance mavens in Mooloolaba this weekend, as Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast heralds the return of long course racing to Australia.
Australian Ironman royalty Sarah Crowley will finally get her 2020 season underway in Mooloolaba, after the pandemic put her 2020 plans on hold.
Speaking to Triathlon Australia, Crowley said she’s looking forward to testing herself on the challenging Sunshine Coast course.
“Ordinarily I’d be at Santa Cruz 70.3 before coming home to prepare for Kona [World Championships], so it’s nice to have the opportunity to race at home,” Crowley said.
“I don’t think over the last three or four years I’ve had the opportunity to race in Australia very much so I’m definitely looking forward to it.”
“[The mix of athletes in the field] is definitely going to change the dynamic at the start of the race a lot….but I expect that we might see the experience of some of the long course athletes start to come through on the bike and the run…especially on that last 10km of the run, it’s going to be gritty.”
“But I’m really just looking forward to having the opportunity to race hard. I don’t really have any expectations for myself except only to perform to the level that I can and holding myself accountable to that for the full race.”
Crowley will be joined on the starting line by fellow long course specialist Ellie Salthouse and former Under 23 Cross Triathlon World Champion turned long course professional Penny Slater.
Ashleigh Gentle has often found success in Mooloolaba, winning the 2019 ITU World Cup and finishing third in 2020. Winning on debut at Ironman 70.3 China last year matched with her short course pedigree, and second place last weekend at Bribie Island, she will pose a big threat.
While her 2018 Commonwealth Games teammate Gillian Backhouse will try her hand at the 70.3 for the first time this weekend.
The USA’s Beth McKenzie and New Zealand’s Amelia Watkinson will also bring some strong international talent to the table this weekend as they get their seasons underway.
In the Pro Men’s field, Josh Amberger will be looking to continue his winning ways in 2020 with a strong result in Mooloolaba. In his first race since taking out the Australian Long Course Championships in Geelong earlier this year, Amberger will wear the #1 bib in a bumper Men’s field.
Long course racing stalwart David Mainwaring will no doubt be one to watch, while Steven McKenna who finished second here last year, and Max Neumann will turn their focus back towards the longer distance after solid 2019 seasons racing long course and ITU distance formats.
Not without 70.3 experience, Olympians Ryan Fisher and Aaron Royle will also contend their first long course title in several years. With both athletes having previously dabbled in long course triathlon before choosing to remain focused on their ITU careers, their range of experience is likely to add to the race dynamics..
The 2020 Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast will be held on Sunday September 13 in Mooloolaba. To follow the race live, download the Ironman Oceania app from the Apple Store or Google Play.
Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast
Photo Credit: Korupt Vision