The Five Big Questions of SunSmart Ironman Western Australia

There are many things to look forward to at the new-look SunSmart Ironman Western Australia, not least seeing each and every competitor achieve their individual Ironman goals. But as always there are certain members of the field with their eyes on different targets…

Will Bek Keat set a new women’s course record?

Keat set her Ironman-distance personal best of 8:39 in 2008, earning her the title of second-fastest female Ironman ever (to the dominant Chrissie Wellington).

Theoretically she should be able to wipe minutes off the 8:59:20 course record, set by New Zealand’s Gina Ferguson in 2008. Just three months ago she won a European Ironman-distance event in a time would put her five minutes clear of that mark.

She will certainly put fellow Aussie Charlotte Paul’s 3:05:04 run record in jeopardy, with a 3:04 on her resume from the 2009 Ford Ironman World Championship. But after retiring from the 2010 Ford Ironman World Championship with severe cramping, Keat said she wasn’t confident of claiming any records.

She has since been working with a medical team to combat the problem and, if this month’s result at the Campbell’s Shepparton Half Ironman is an indication, has it under control.

Keat, 32, proved she is still getting faster, breaking her own record on that course with a four hour 17 minute race

It will be interesting to see what she can produce under her own pressure to finish the year on a high.

Will Pete Jacobs break the men’s run record?

Jacobs set the third-fastest marathon time ever run at the Ford Ironman World Championship in October 2010. His 2:41:05 was the fastest of the day, even beating out countryman and renowned runner Craig Alexander.

Not one to rest the legs, Jacobs competed over the Olympic distance in Noosa just three weeks after the race in Hawaii. The Sydneysider came down with an illness after both events, making his decision to race the Nepean Olympic Distance triathlon just a fortnight later somewhat surprising. Jacobs finished second due to a stop/go penalty after missing a cone on the bike and backed up just 90 minutes later to be runner-up in a super-sprint event.

The big question will be: does have enough left in his legs after a season of intense racing to back up in Busselton? If so, he will add run record to the course swim record, which he already holds.

Jacobs’ Ironman distance PB is 8:02 – slightly faster than Jason Shortis’ 2006 record of 8.03.56 and also set on a flat, fast course.

Will Patrick Vernay’s indomitable winning record in Australia be broken?

The New Caledonian won Ironman Western Australia in 2007 and 2009 (he was too ill to start in 2008) and has won Ironman Australia every year since 2007.

If he defends the title, he will be the first athlete to win back-to-back Ironman Western Australias. It would be the 37-year-old’s 10th Ironman title. Vernay finished 19th at the Ford Ironman World Championship in 8:35:44.

Will Miroslav Vrastil finish his 22nd Ironman for 2010?

The former national rower from the Czech Republic set out to do the most recorded Ironman events in a single year – the most possible considering two events are held simultaneously – and has so far finished every single one.

He will fly to Western Australia direct from Mexico, where he competes in Ford Ironman Conzumel on November 28 – leaving him just one week to recover for SunSmart Ironman Western Australia.

The 59-year-old cancer survivor has raced three times at Western Australia. This year His son Miroslav jnr, also a national rower, and daughter Denisa will also race on December 5.

Can Luke Bell break through for a maiden Ironman victory?

At the end of his eighth year of professional Ironman racing, Melbourne’s Luke Bell must be due to top an Ironman podium.

He has podiumed at Ironman 70.3 events around the world and to date has won seven in North America.

He finished 16th at his debut at the Ford Ironman World Championship in 2002 and fifth the following year. In 2006 he made it into Hawaii’s top ten again, placing 7th.

Bell will be hoping not to add another Ironman runner-up to his resume, which already includes second places at Ironman New Zealand in 2007, Ironman Australia in 2005, Ironman Brazil in 2006 and Ironman Lake Placid in 2004. His 2010 season didn’t start well, a fall from his bike forcing him to take a break from training until two broken arms had healed. However, he came back strongly with a fourth place at Ironman Coeur D’Alene, to qualify for the 2010 Ford Ironman World Championships. He then stepped back to the 70.3 distance and placed third at Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens and won Ironman 70.3 Cancun in 3:59.

Bell’s World Championship race did not go the way he had hoped, and then he was forced to pull out of the Shepparton Half Ironman in November after cutting his finger during the swim leg.

Will his fortune change on December 5?






Karl Hayes

Karl is a keen age group triathlete who races more than he trains. Good life balance! Karl works in the media industry in Australia and is passionate about the sport of triathlon.