2012 saw the inclusion of two new Ironman races on the North American calendar, Ironman Mont-Tremblant and Ironman New York. In the case of Mont-Tremblant, the inaugural race went off with a bang, leaving very little for athletes, spectators or organisers to critique. By all accounts the community of this rustic village of Mont-Tremblant , situated in the Laurentian mountains of Quebec Canada, embraced the event with open arms and hearts.
Meanwhile the city of New York had been given the title of North American Championship. For pro’s this threw 4,000 points and a US $125,000 prize pool on the table, and for age groupers the opportunity to race for the North American title. It was always going to be a monumental challenge to pull off an Ironman within such a major city, and the challenge indeed proved too much. Despite much praise about the thrill of racing in such an iconic location, the logistical problems presented and other associated problems saw the US Championship wiped off the calendar after only it’s inaugural year.
So whilst the rustic village of Mont Tremblant in Canada had happily settled for a 1,000 point and $25,000 pro prize purse in 2012, with the US Championship needing a new home, the enthusiastic French-Canadian village has been rewarded with this title for 2013. So with 4,000 points and a US $125,000 prize purse on offer this weekend, we will be seeing an impressive list of professional women on the start line. Some of these women will be in the hunt for some final points to qualify for Kona, with only seven tickets remaining to the Big Island; others racing purely as a business decision and wanting a hand in one of the largest prize purses on the circuit.
Currently ranked fourth on the 2013 professional women’s KPR and with her ticket to Kona already booked, the 2012 North American Ironman Champion Mary-Beth Ellis is returning to defend her title, this time in a very different setting. Ellis is undefeated outside of Kona, and has no intentions of tarnishing her record this weekend. Since joining professional teamTBB under coach Brett Sutton, Ellis has been a formidable force on the Ironman and Ironman 70.3 circuit, and would have to be race favourite this weekend. The American pocket rocket, originally from Washington D.C., is the US record holder for fastest Ironman and has a proven record on hilly courses, as proven in her victory at Ironman France (Nice) earlier this season.
Australian Rebekah Keat refocused her energy towards Mont-Tremblant after making the decision to withdraw from Ironman Frankfurt in July due to a tendonitis injury. With this injury a thing of the past, a coach she has complete trust and belief in, and experience racing on the big stage, Keat will be hoping to go one better than her second place to Ellis at New York in 2012.
A change of heart following her inaugural Ironman victory at Ironman Cairns in June see’s Bristish/Australian Liz Blatchford on the hunt for KPR points. Blatchford wants to join in on the fun this October, and strategically chose Mont-Tremblant to enable her to do so. With an incredible resume already to her name in a short period of time racing long course triathlon, Blatchford will be looking not only to gain valuable points, but to test herself against some of the sports best. Being only her second Ironman Blatchford still considers herself an Ironman rookie, and we can only expect such a talented woman to grow in confidence, strength and experience with each and every race.
Hillary Biscay, despite having raced Ironman Brazil and Ironman Austria already this year, sits just outside the top 50 on the KPR. The new points system is proving incredibly challenging for pro’s to race enough to gain the points needed to qualify, and Biscay is not one to shy away from racing more than a couple of Ironman each season.
Fellow American and Kona local Bree Wee is desperately hoping to race in her own backyard this October. Finishing second to Caroline Steffen earlier this month at the Cobra Ironman 70.3 Philippines, Wee is showing good form and will be chasing a good result and enough points to qualify within the remaining seven places for Kona.
Another American Sarah Piampiano surprised herself with a fourth place finish at the US Championship race last year in New York, and will be on the hunt for a top five finish this weekend. Piampiano finished fourth again at Ironman Austria (Klagenfurt) in June, with the fastest run of the day.
Jennie Hansen, Haley Chura and April Gellatly all stand a chance at qualifying in the final seven with a top finish on Sunday, and as a result expect these girls to be taking some chances and putting it on the line. Chura particularly will put in a strong swim and hope to put some space into her competition early in the race.
With a start list dominated by American and Aussie’s, Hungarian Erika Csomor may sneak under the radar but is a definite chance to finish amongst the top five.
The timing of this race will provide some interesting dynamics with so much being on the line for Kona qualifying, and a prize purse worth taking a few risks for; not to mention the North American Title. What is guaranteed though this weekend is a fantastic race and amazing atmosphere as the village of Mont-Tremblant welcomes athletes and supporters to what is fast becoming a triathlon mecca. Expect to see this village on the race calendar more frequently in the near future.
Pro female start list:
|49||Christine Anderson USA||USA|
|45||Hillary Biscay USA||USA|
|50||Morgan Chaffin USA||USA|
|51||Haley Chura USA||USA|
|46||Erika Csomor HUN||HUN|
|40||Jessie Donavan USA||USA|
|42||Mary Beth Ellis USA||USA|
|55||April Gellatly USA||USA|
|56||Annie Gervais CAN||CAN|
|62||Jennie Hansen USA||USA|
|44||Rebekah Keat AUS||AUS|
|58||Amanda Kourtz USA||USA|
|43||Joanna Lawn NZL||NZL|
|63||Nina Pekerman ISR||ISR|
|65||Sarah Piampiano USA||USA|
|66||Olesya Prystayko UKR||UKR|
|59||Molly Roohi USA||USA|
|60||Kim Schwabenbauer USA||USA|
|61||Jessica Smith USA||USA|
|64||Keiko Tanaka JPN||JPN|