While the event carries a prize purse of US$50,000, Ironman isn’t just about the â€œpro’sâ€. In fact, the professional athletes account for less than 2% of Sunday’s total field of 1,522.
There are as many great stories as there are competitors in this year’sÂ Urban Hotel Group Ironman Australia. Here are just a fewâ€¦
- Tony Abbott MHR, Leader of the Opposition – it’s fair to say that Tony Abbott will be having one of the more unusual preparations in Ironman Australia’s 25 year history! Just days prior to the biggest sporting challenge of his life, he will be taking on Australia’s Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, in a pre-election campaign debate focusing on health. We’re tipping that Tony has the edge on the PM on matters related to health, given that he’s about to line up for 226km of swimming, riding and running on Sunday!
- Remarkably, 59 year old school teacher Dave Ross is the only person to have completed every one of the previous 24 Ironman Australia triathlons. Dave was 35 when he completed his first Ironman, and describes himself as â€œa very average triathleteâ€.
- In contrast, Dave Orlowski (USA) will be lining up for his first ever Ironman Australia. However Orlowski holds a special place in Ironman history, as he was one of the pioneering group of 15 individuals who in 1978 took on the seemingly crazy challenge of completing a 3.8km swim, 180.1km ride and 42.2km run all in one day, in Honolulu. After finishing third in what is now recognised as the original Ironman, Dave took a thirty year break from the sport before embarking on his current mission to complete every Ironman event around the world over the next four years, culminating with the 35th anniversary event at Kona, Hawaii.
- Urban Hotel Group Ironman Australia has attracted a number of individuals with world-class sporting pedigrees, including several Olympic and Commonwealth games medallists. 31 year old doctor Rachel Harris (WA) may be new to Ironman, but expect her to be one of the first out of the water; she won gold as an 800m swimmer at the 1998 Commonwealth Games!
- Likewise, Neil Brooks (NSW, 47) will be one to watch in the swim leg. Brooks was a member of the infamous â€œMean Machineâ€, collecting himself Commonwealth and Olympic gold in his colourful swimming career.
- We’re tipping that the Chapman clan â€“ Corey (35), Trent (33), Leigh (29) and their dad Greg (62) â€“ will be covering more distance than any other family this Sunday. They’re also likely to be the fastest family finishers; all three Chapman sons have notched up top ten finishes at Ironman Australia, with Trent finishing first amongst all age groupers last year. This is the first time they have all raced each other, and the bets are on as to who will cross the line first!
- James Lenard (US, 34) of the US Marine Corps completed the 2007 Marine Corps Marathon in Iraq in a solid time of 3.44.
- Desiree Ficker (US, 33) is definitely one to watch at the pointy end of the field. She finished second behind Australia’s Michellie Jones in Hawaii in 2006, and was tenth overall in the 2009 New York City Marathon in a scorching time of 2.39:30.
- Koppo Kopcikas (QLD, 36) is one of the great characters of Ironman Australia. At 100kg, Kopcikas has one of the larger builds for an Ironman athlete, providing a challenge in itself. However he is most renowned for his finish line antics; he has previously crossed the finish line wearing a monkey mask (twice); MC Hammer pants (twice); displaying Michael Jackson dance moves; wearing a Mr Muscle costume; and performing an unforgettable breakdance routine. He has prepared something special to celebrate Ironman Australia’s 25th birthday!
- Former professional rugby union player Nick Harvey (NSW, 35) will be lining up for his third Ironman Australia this weekend, while ex-league player Phil Carey (Canberra Raiders and Manly Warringah) is preparing for his eighth Ironman race.
- Some will be celebrating their own special anniversaries this weekend, including Matt and Nicola Sunde (NSW) who have elected to celebrate their first wedding anniversary by racing their first Ironman together!
- Mark Brentnall was competing in his first Ironman race in Port Macquarie last year when wife Lisa went into labour five weeks earlier than expected. She raced off to hospital, where she gave birth to baby Charlotte the following day. Incredibly, Lisa is now set to race her first Ironman just twelve months later!
- Like professional triathlete Jason Shortis, 56 year old orthodontist Peter Vaughan (NSW) will be lining up for his 50th Ironman finish this weekend. Peter has competed on 15 different Ironman courses around the world, and in order to make Ironman Australia his golden anniversary, he has had to squeeze in four races (Ironmans Malaysia, NZ and China) within a five week period! Peter’s son Matt (18 years) will be racing his first Ironman, so the Vaughan Ironman tradition may well continue for many years to come…
The Ironman Village is located at Westport Park, Port Macquarie. The free ASICS Ironman Expo opens from 9am Thursday. For further details, please visit www.ironmanoz.com/
About Urban Hotel Group Ironman Australia www.ironmanoz.com
Urban Hotel Group Ironman Australia is one of 24 Ironman triathlon events held around the world, which qualify athletes for the iconic Ironman World Championship held every October in Kona, Hawaii.
Ironman consists of a 3.8km swim, 180.1km ride and 42.2km run. Since its inception 1985, over 20,000 competitors have made the journey to Ironman Australia. This year’s event offers 60 qualifying slots to the Ford Ironman World Championship and carries a total prize purse of US$50,000.
Ironman Australia is presented by IMG and proudly supported by Naming Rights Sponsor, the Urban Hotel Group.