- 2014 Australian Duathlon Championships website now live! More>>
- 2012-2013 Annual Report now available online for all members More>>
- 2014 Age Group Selection policies now online More>>
- New member benefit: Bike Inclusive Airfare Packages to National Championship events More>>
- See the TA Value Added Member Benefits Package More>>
Ian Hepenstall reports on the contingent from Australia and New Zealand racing in Vegas on Sunday. Courtesy of Ironman.com
They come from a land downunder - stacks of them - and the heat is really on for this weekend's Marine Corps Ironman World Championship 70.3. Triathletes from Australia and New Zealand make up a quarter of the men's field, with four in the elite women's race.
All of them are agreed on one point: the cauldron approaching 40 degrees Celsius, coupled with the hills in Henderson, will provide the sternest of tests.
The crowd from downunder come to Henderson, Nevada with plenty of kudos both with their history in the world championship and form throughout the season. In the five year history of the event, three athletes from Australia and New Zealand have been crowned Ironman 70.3 world champions – Craig Alexander in 2006, Mirinda Carfrae in 2007 and Terenzo Bozzone in 2008, while six have been on the podium.
So there’s plenty of pedigree.
Australasians have won 14 times over the 70.3 distance around the globe this year, along with 37 podium performances.
So there’s some form too.
Leading the way are the women. Aussie Melissa Rollinson has three wins this year including Muncie (over Kelly Williamson and Leanda Cave) and Vineman (over Cave and Carfrae) and seven-time Ironman New Zealand champion Jo Lawn also has three wins.
In the men, Luke Bell has a brace of wins at Hawaii and Lake Stevens in a stellar season that includes four podiums. Aussie compatriot Joe Gambles had wins at Port Macquarie and Boulder, while Paul Ambrose had a win in Racine along with four other podiums.
Who will the course favour?
Chris Legh says longer distance athletes. “A non wetsuit swim, a hilly, windy hot ride and run. The best overall athlete will have every opportunity to win.I think this will suit the long course guys and girls compared to the short course style of Clearwater. It should be more about a strong bike/run combination rather than a sit and run strategy.”
All are in one clear voice on one thing.
“The heat, the hills,” says Lawn.
“If the heat is on – then it will all come down to nutrition and hydration,” says Josh Rix.
“If you were just rolling around to finish the race, the course and heat would be fine, but then add the racing of all the quality guys and that’s where it will get extremely hard,” said Paul Matthews.
“Heat will be a major factor out there It has reached over the 40 degree C mark. That is hot, and right in the half marathon stage,” said Bell.
How will it differ from Clearwater?
“I personally think this course will suit the Ironman guys well,” said Berkel. “I think the bike will play a big part in this race, which is great as it will suit the honest race,” said Matty White.
“This will be my first World 70.3 Champs,” said Michelle Wu. “It's great though that it has moved to Las Vegas because it is going to be a much, much tougher and honest race.”
Christie Sym says: “For me the key challenge will be maintaining focus under pressure and reacting to the race by making the right moves at the right time. Hopefully, come race day, I'll have the legs.”
The Aussies and the kiwis also agree on one thing – Las Vegas rocks as the venue.
“Vegas it's a lot more attractive for more spectators and potential age group competitors coming from all over the globe to race and have fun in Vegas Baby,” said Berkel.
“It'll make it interesting as no-one will have the advantage of having raced on that course before. It will also be great to check out Vegas after the race too,” said Madeleine Oldfield.
For those going on to Kona the timing is right.
“I think it fits perfect. It is going to be used as a very hard simulation,” said Lawn.
“It fits in perfect, I would say the majority of people doing Kona would do some sort of last race hit out. Four weeks out in a hot environment, why would you not race would be more the question,” said Bell.
“I am using this as a lead up race to fine tune my racing. I always planned to race a 70.3 before Kona, and got offered a Vegas spot which worked out perfect,” said White.
And two-time Hawaii champ Craig Alexander agrees: “Personally, I think the timing of Vegas is perfect for those athletes gearing up for Hawaii.”
Australian and New Zealand pro starters are:
Men: Craig Alexander, Paul Ambrose, Luke Bell, Luke McKenzie, Tim Berkel, Joe Gambles, Christian Kemp, Chris Legh, Paul Matthews, Josh Rix, Matty White, James Cotter, Guy Crawford and Bryan Rhodes:
Women: Jo lawn, Madeleine Oldfield, Christie Sym, Michelle Wu.
Triathlon Australia is proudly supported by the Australian Sports Commission, the Government body that develops supports and invests in sport at all levels in Australia.