A 57 strong professional field will contest the 2016 SunSmart IRONMAN® Western Australia. For the first time in IRONMAN Asia-Pacific history, the women’s field have been seeded first.
Australia’s Mel Hauschildt and defending women’s champion Sarah Piampiano (USA) head a 15 strong female field featuring Sweden’s Asa Lundstrom (8th 2016 IRONMAN World Championship) and Germany’s Mareen Hufe (2nd 2014 and 2015 SunSmart IRONMAN Western Australia.)
Luke McKenzie, the 2015 champion, is not returning to defend his title but 2014 champion and last year’s runner-up France’s Denis Chevrot will be on the start line. He’ll be joined by 40 other pro men including American Andy Potts, Canada’s Jeffery Symonds (2015 IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Champion) and Kiwi Terrenzo Bozzone.
It will be the first time Potts, a seven-time IRONMAN champion, has ever raced in a triathlon in Australia.
“I've raced here before on the West coast. In fact, I did a training trip to Fremantle back in 1996-1997 to prepare for the swimming world championships in 1997,” he said. “A big factor was the timing. I needed enough time to recover from Kona as well as time to put in some quality work. Plus, it doesn't hurt that it is beautiful this time of year in WA.”
It will be Symonds first visit back to Australia since his breakthrough win at the 2015 IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship.
“It is great to be back in Australia! I have been in the country for a couple of weeks already. In 2015 I trained out of Bendigo for IRONMAN Melbourne, so I thought I would head back there. Bendigo is a blue collar town that brings a blue collared work ethic to every training session,” Symonds said. “I have heard the course in Busso is flat and fast. At the end of the day, though, it is an IRONMAN. It can be flat and fast, but it is still going to be an ugly day of suffering.”
On paper Hauschildt, the reigning IRONMAN European and IRONMAN 70.3 European champion, will be the favourite. But she’ll face tough completion from Piampiano, Hufe and Lundstrom.
“I love racing in Australia, and have done four times before, and everywhere I have been in the world I am still amazed by the hospitality and friendliness of the people. People are genuine, and I have always felt welcomed and safe,” Lundstrom said
After a 7th place finish at the IRONMAN World Championship in October Piampiano is hell bent on defending the title she claimed in Busselton last year.
“I am so excited to be back in Busselton. This race has an incredibly special place in my heart as it was my first IRONMAN title. To win here last year was a wonderful and emotional way to cap off my season. And now, to come back and have the opportunity to defend the title is something I have been looking forward to all season. I can't wait for race day,” she said.
To coincide with IRONMAN’S bid to create history at SunSmart IRONMAN Western Australia by becoming the first IRONMAN event ever to feature an even split of male and female competitors, the female athletes have been seeded listed 1-16 for the first time in IRONMAN Asia-Pacific history.
“I'm particularly excited this year because the line-up of professional women is strong - I think it will make for an exciting race, which is awesome - particularly considering the emphasis IRONMAN is putting on female participants and trying to attain 50 percent participation from women. I hope that such a strong field will inspire all the women out there racing,” Piampiano said.
The SunSmart IRONMAN Western Australia will also feature the first ever IRONMAN® 70.3® Western Australia, which is an age group race only.