These days, we hear the words ‘Stacked Field’ get thrown around a fair bit; it’s a a bit of jargon which has become somewhat watered-down. In some cases, it’s the publicity machine behind the race hoping to build a bit of excitement around their event.
In other cases, it’s more than hot wind – it’s quite literally, a stacked field. Â The IRONMAN 70.3 Vineman will play host to such a field this forthcoming weekend, as the North American season rolls on.
The Women’s Race:
The race for the women’s title will also be a tough-battle with some very classy athletes set to go head-to-head. Multiple Ironman Champion and 2012 Vineman 70.3 Champion, American Meredith Kessler, will be back to defend the silverware. Kessler had an amazing 2012 and is off to a flying start in 2013 with a number of big wins including a stellar performance at Ironman New Zealand.
In fact, the entire 2012 podium will be returning this Sunday to Healdsburg, California.
Former Ironman 70.3 World Champion and 2013 ITU Long-Distance World Champion, Australian Melissa Hauschildt, lead the race last year with a blinding 1:18 half-marathon but unfortunately faltered with gastro-intestonal issues allowing Kessler to make a move. Hauschildt finished the run 50-seconds behind Kessler, and will look to go one better, hungry to regain the Vineman 70.3 title which she won in 2011.
Texan Amy Marsh, a top-10 Kona finisher last year, had a great performance at Vineman last year in taking 3rd and is returning with solid form. Fellow American Heather Jackson, 4th in 2012, is coming back and will be one to watch. Jackson finished 3rd at the 2012 Ironman 70.3 World Championship and has been on song in 2013 with wins at Oceanside 70.3, Wildflower, and the coveted Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon.
Linsey Corbin will bring not only her Cowboy hat, but the Ironman 70.3 Mont Tremblant title to California. The proud Montanan, who just missed out on going sub-9 at Ironman Arizona late last year, has shown she has getting in good shape for the pointy end of the year.
The Men’s Race:
Craig ‘Crowie’ Alexander was set to lead the charge to keep the Vineman 70.3 title in Australian hands, withÂ defending champion Greg Bennett absence on the startlist. Unfortunately, Crowie has scratched himself from the race. Until now, Alexander has had a great start to 2013 with a podium finish at the Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship Melbourne just days after the birth of his 3rd child, and wins at both the Hawaii and Kansas 70.3 races. His cards remain close to his chest at the moment, as to the reasons why he won’t be racing.
The Australian contigent will, instead, be headlined by a number of other fast Aussies. Newly-crowned Ironman Australia champion Luke Bell will look to add to his 30+ Ironman 70.3 titles on Sunday. Bell’s win at Port Macquarie ended a long search for that first Ironman title, and shows that the Victorian is in good form. Bell recently finished on the podium at the San Franciso International Triathlon behind 2013 Ironman Cairns champion Luke McKenzie, who will also be there come Sunday. McKenzie is back to his old winning ways after parting with former coach Siri Lindley, having taken wins at Ironman Cairns, Phillipines 5150 and the San Francisco International Triathlon.
Add to the equation perennial 70.3 guns Joe Gambles, Paul Matthews, Tim Berkel and the in-form Tim Reed and we’ve got ourselves what’s sure to be a barn-storming race – just between the Australians!
The New Zealand big-guns of Terenzo Bozzone and dual-Olympic medalist Bevan Docherty will be looking to trouble the field with fast racing. Both Bozzone and Docherty are in great form and bring to the race strings of podiums and wins from the last few weeks.
The likes of North-American Ironman Champion titleholder Jordan Rapp, former Olympian and multiple 70.3 title holder Andy Potts, Ironman Canada champion Matt Russell, Texan Brandan Marsh, and Â Trevor Wuertel -who has been running really well this year- will bid to stop the charge of Australian and New Zealand athletes from cleaning up the prize purse of $50,000 US.
The race should be an absolute firecracker and one of the best in the race’s 23-year history. Buckle up!
– Steve Crossman (@crosso_s)