This weekend’s Port Macquarie 70.3 is going to be a tight race at the pointy end. The men’s field has five ‘more’ obvious favourites but lurking beneath them are a a couple of dark horses that could upset the balance of power. One is Sam Appleton. We saw Appleton earlier this year at Huskisson long course finish just under 3mins behind Pete Jacobs in a race that saw Jacobs pushed to his limits by an inform Mitch Robins. Appleton ran a 1:10 for the 20kms and was only marginally off Pete Jacobs on the swim and rode strongly. With an ITU background and a year off the sport in 2011 Appleton is back and at a very young age is looking to establish himself in the 70.3 format.
Kiwi James Bowstead will be looking to put in a faster run than last week at Mandurah. He was a leading swimmer and then put in one of the faster times on the bike to be one of the front runners out of T2.
Someone that will bother Fettell, Berkel and White this weekend will be Leon Griffin. Griffin should be a lot fresher after not racing at Mandurah last weekend. We last saw Griffin racing Lance Armstrong at the Superfrog half ironman at the beginning of October. He out swum Armstrong by around 30sec, rode a mere 17sec slower than Armstrong and then came the surprise. Armstrong had been doing some massive trail running weeks and with the 5 or so miles of soft sand on the run Griffin found himself on the end of a running lesson Lance Armstrong style. Of course we are assuming it was the large trail running volume that handed him the victory.
So with this most recent performance of Griffin’s and knowing what curve balls he has had to deal with this year we could very well see Griffin on the podium or even with a ‘Leon Griffin wins…’ headline on Sunday.
Clayton Fettell is the current Port Macquarie 70.3 title holder. He did this off the back of a dominating swim / bike performance and held out a fast finishing Tim Reed who finally ran out of road in his pursuit of Fettell. Last week at Mandurah he faded in the run after putting in a strong first two leads. Maybe this will mean he is slightly fresher for this weekend. Fettell didn’t get the gap on the field during the bike leg that most expected.
Matty White was right there last weekend as he almost always is. The differences last week were Matty’s run was just slightly off the two guys in front of him taking the last two podium spots and also Tim Berkel’s killer bike ride. Maybe White was thinking about this weekend in the end.
Chris Dmitrieff had a solid race at Forster recently. He is back training and starting to build in to the sport again. Working full time now he is really finding a lot of joy in the sport again. It will be great to see how he goes this weekend.
Ex pro cyclist Casey Munroe had an unusually slow bike last weekend. His swim right up there with the leaders and he found the run a bit tough. He is building in to the sport of triathlon and is young. He will be great to follow.
As we have mentioned before Ben Hammond has decided to step away from ITU cup racing and focus on long course. He didn’t have a great race at Forster pulling out after 60kms on the bike. So he should be fresh for this weekend.
Adam Gordon had a great showing at Forster. Very strong on the bike and in the chase pack behind Fettell. His swim time was a couple of minute down and he played catchup on the bike and then really pushed the pace. This hurt him on the run but he still put in a great run time to finish 4th all over.
We are looking froward to seeing Jason Shortis having a hit out in this field. He has had some good podiums at Port IM over the last couple of year and obviously earlier. Shortis raced Shepparton 70.3 last November for a 5th overall and a 1:19.
We are really interested to see how Michael Prince goes this weekend. Princed raced the Carins 70.3 this year for 7th overall as an age grouper. Prince had a solid race across the board and will have improved over the last few months knowing he is racing open. Prince has some talent and will be great to watch.
Full pro start list below.
In the women’s race it is hard to go past New Zealand’s Belinda Harper. Although Harper does come in to her own over the iron distance she is building very strongly on the shorter 70.3 distance. In the Cairns IM this year Harper out swum and out rode Carrie Lester to only be run down and finish second, just under two minutes behind Lester. At Challenge Roth last year Harper was 4th overall finishing just behind Rebekah Keat and ahead of Belinda Granger.
In saying that Harper is hard to go past we will put Japan’s Kiyomi Niwata out there as a dark horse to watch. She had a DNF at the ITU World Champs final last weekend in Auckland after a stella career in ITU racing at the top level. Niwata is 40+ years old and will almost certainling lead the women out of the water. Unknown is her cycling speed. What will be a certainty is that she will run fast.
The head to head between Kat Baker and Rebecca Hoschke should be great to watch. Last weekend at Mandurah 70.3 Hoschke gave away a bit of time to Baker in the swim and bike but hit back with a run almost 10 minutes quicker she took away the chocolates for that head to head.
Rachel Paxton is down to race. We thought she was having a break. If Paxton takes the pressure off herself to perform and goes to Port to enjoy the race she could get a result.