After a hotly contested day one at the IRONMAN World Championships was filled with outstanding efforts, debutant successes and age group triumphs, all eyes turn to what day two on the Big Island will bring.
Australians Cameron Wurf, Max Neumann, Tim Van Berkel, Nick Kastelein, Sam Appleton, Josh Amberger and Matt Burton will be lining up against the world’s best in the men’s professional race to take on the 3.8km swim, 180km ride and 42.2km run from 2:00am AEST Sunday October 9.
Max Neumann heads to the IRONMAN World Championship following a number of impressive race wins, including taking out the last three IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championships Cairns titles, and the Qatar Airways IRONMAN 70.3 Sunshine Coast just last month.
"It's been a long wait and I am very much looking forward to finally getting underway at my debut IRONMAN Word Championship in Kona,” said Neumann. “My preparation has been great and I’ve just come off a little prep race at IRONMAN 70.3 Sunshine Coast, getting the win there so all is looking good. Of course the conditions in Kona are challenging but they are very similar to Cairns and having executed three good races there I am confident in my heat prep routine.
“The race itself will be one for the ages. All the favourites coming into this race are all Kona debutants so I think we will see some racing like we have never seen before,” he said. “Australia has had quite good history on the big island. I believe if you respect the Island and conditions and have done the work you've got nothing to worry about."
Josh Amberger is known as one of the best swimmers in the field and returns to Kona for another shot at the IRONMAN World Championship title, having most recently finished second at both IRONMAN Mont Tremblant in Canada and IRONMAN Australia this year.
“Kona is one of the pinnacles of endurance sports, it’s a household name with rich history and traditions, and the world is watching,” said Amberger. “So, as a professional, I feel honoured to be able to start at the head of the race for the fourth time. I’ve never had the result I’d hoped for in years past, but this didn’t diminish the experience. I’m racing for top 10, top five or even a podium, but no matter the outcome, I will always feel thankful to be taking part.
“Most of my take-homes from previous years have been tactical in nature, as I’ve always raced outside my ability,” he said “The race and the harsh conditions have always got the better of me once the gun goes and the adrenaline kicks in. I’ve learnt to be patient and to treat the distance with respect, and I think this more measured and mature approach to IRONMAN racing will pay off in the return of Kona in 2022.”
Having experienced Kona as an age grouper a decade ago, Perth-based Matt Burton will be lining up for the first time in Kona as a professional.
“I’ve been in Kona since September 2 after managing with the winter back home in Perth and Kona is as brutally beautiful as I remember it,” said Burton. “It’s been 10 years since I’ve been here, yet given the memories and time spent in Kona were in my early years in the sport they are the fondest and created the greatest motivation.
“The age group race is very different. It’s one where no athlete should be drawn into another’s race,” he said. “While the elite race has changing dynamics, moments where you may need to move on tactical response and not numbers. I do feel having been in the sport for some time now that responding here is the patient approach. Reacting will make the Queen K a slow progression on foot. Interpret that how you feel, though being irrational and racing on emotion can be very costly in the suppressed heat.”
Neumann, Amberger and Burton are part of a seven-strong Aussie contingent. With Cameron Wurf the current Kona bike record holder after setting a time of 4:09:06 in 2018, Tim Van Berkel in his 7th IRONMAN World Championships Kona start, Nick Kastelein returning to Kona after securing his qualification with his second ever IRONMAN distance win at IRONMAN Vitoria-Gasteiz earlier this year, and Sam Appleton making his World Championship debut, there is much to anticipate and celebrate for Aussie fans this weekend.
Day two of racing on the Big Island will also see the remaining Australian age group men's categories take on the 3.8km swim, 180km ride and 42.2km run challenge. With nearly 300 Australian age group team members there will be no shortage of supporters on the sidelines cheering their teammates along. Congratulations to all age groupers for the incredible achievement of qualifying to race at the World Championships and good luck for race day.
Here's how you can experience the magic of Kona from home and cheer on your fellow Australians:
Watch on Facebook Live:
Pro Male race starts on Sunday 9 Oct, at 2:25am (AEST)
Download the IRONMAN Tracker App:
- If you know someone lucky enough to be on the start line, then make sure you download the IRONMAN Tracker App to follow their journey to the finish line.