Ironman.com – MELBOURNE, Australia (December 11, 2012) â€“ IRONMANÂ® Asia Pacific Champion Caroline Steffen will defend her title in Melbourne next March.
The IRONMAN Melbourne race is one of the three global championship events offering USD$125,000 prize money and coveted qualifying slots culminating in the IRONMAMÂ® World Championship in Hawaii.
In just its second year, the event has already attracted many of the world’s best athletes and major corporate support to become a premier event on Melbourne’s annual sporting calendar.
Steffen posted the second fastest ever IRONMAN time in storming to victory in this year’s event.
The Swiss star came agonizingly close to winning the IRONMANÃ’ World Championship in Hawaii recently, passed by Great Britain’s Leanda Cave only 3km from the finish.
Since 2010 the â€˜Swiss Miss’, as she is affectionately known has amassed an astounding six IRONMAN Championships (2010 â€“ 2012), two ITU World Long Course titles and twice runner up at the IRONMAN World Championship.
Steffen likes returning to races that hold good memories for her and Melbourne is high on her list.
â€œI had so much pleasure at IRONMAN Melbourne last year in a city I do love. It is such a great venue to race and the course suits me perfectly. I like the point to point marathon,â€ said Steffen.
Steffen, a former national swimmer and professional cyclist revealed she had an advantage going into the race this year.
â€œIn 2007 and 2008 I spent several weeks with my pro cycling team riding on the beach road between Frankston and Melbourne every day. During the race I had all these great memories of my time back as a cyclist and I knew every single corner of the road, which helped.â€
Steffen said it felt like a home-town victory as she is based on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast for much of the year with partner David Dellow, who finished fifth in the same race and will also contest the event in 2013.
â€œAustralia is the country where I spend most of my time at the moment, so it feels like home, and always puts a smile on my face when my Aussie fans are cheering for me.
Steffen and Dellow are the first of many high profile athletes to sign on for this iconic race and compete for coveted Kona qualifying points and prize money.
The event which doubles as the Asia Pacific Championships carries a prize purse of US$125,000 and 4000 points for the professional field.
IRONMAN Asia Pacific has announced an additional 25 slots, raising the total to 100 qualifying places for age group athletes wanting for the 2013 IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
This makes the IRONMAN Asia Pacific Championship Melbourne just one of only four IRONMAN events in the world to offer 100 slots.
â€œThis elevates the status of this event significantly on a global scale,â€ said Andrew Messick, CEO of World Triathlon Corporation.
â€œThe offer of slots directly to the IRONMAN World Championship from the IRONMAN Asia Pacific Championship Melbourne is an added incentive for triathletes in the Asia Pacific area to realise a dream of racing in Kona, which remains the Holy Grail of our sport.â€
Minister for Sport and Recreation, Hugh Delahunty welcomed Caroline Steffen’s decision to defend her IRONMAN Asia Pacific title.
â€œI look forward to seeing Caroline Steffen and many of the world’s best athletes competing at next year’s IRONMAN Asia Pacific Championships,â€ Mr Delahunty said.
â€œI encourage all Victorians to come along and support the event.â€
In further good news the URBAN Hotel Group will continue their involvement with the event, announcing their elevated status as the Naming Rights sponsor in 2013.
The URBAN Hotel Group is an active supporter of the sport and appreciates the dedication and sacrifices required to complete an IRONMAN event, but also identify with the enormous satisfaction and sense of accomplishment on crossing the finish line.
Ricky Jeffs Group General Manager of Erdigroup, the parent company of the Urban Hotel Group said we are honoured to be the naming rights sponsor of the 2013 Urban Hotel Group IRONMAN Asia Pacific Championships.
We have a long history of supporting the sport across many parts of Australia but St Kilda and Melbourne is our home and we are proud advocates of all that it has to offer. With 100 Kona spots on offer, the world’s best athletes and some enhancements on this year’s race it is set to be an amazing event and I am counting down the days to what will be the greatest Ironman we have seen in Asia Pacific region.
â€œThe URBAN Hotel Group is an outstanding supporter of IRONMAN events in Australia,â€ said IRONMAN Asia Pacific CEO, Geoff Meyer.
â€œThe URBAN team is actively engaged and passionate about progressing the sport and we are thrilled to be continuing our partnership with the URBAN team, and look forward to delivering another incredible event with them.â€
With Hotel Urban St. Kilda just 200 metres from the Ironman Asia Pacific Championship event site in St. Kilda, the hotel will play host to the â€˜who’s who’ of the IRONMAN world during the Melbourne race week, with the world’s best athletes and Ironman identities resting up each night in a signature Urban Snorer bed.
The inaugural IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship was held on Sunday 25 March, 2012. The event was a great success being hailed as one of the World’s great Ironman races. The scale of the event however meant that there was some traffic impact to the community which all stakeholders have worked together to address.
Organizers had some key learning’s from the event this year and have made some changes to the course to minimize the impact to traffic and the community.
Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship Melbourne will be held on Sunday, March 24, 2013.
The 226km race will take place in Melbourne’s South East and Bayside suburbs. The course will include a 3.8km swim in the Frankston Foreshore, a fast and smooth 180km bike on the EastLink Tollway and 42.2km Brooks run from Frankston to the Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship finish line, located at the iconic St. Kilda Catani Gardens.
For further event details: www.ironmanmelbourne.com.