A huge crowd is expected to watch some of Australia’s best triathletes go head to head at one of the world’s best courses for both athletes and spectators at IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong.
The natural amphitheater at Eastern Beach provides a number of fantastic vantage points for spectators, as does the multi-loop bike and run course.
With Geelong providing the location, the entertainment will be provided by two Olympians and a three time IRONMAN world champion, as they go head to head at one of Australia’s most picturesque venues.
Arguably Australia’s most decorated male triathlete, three time IRONMAN world champion and two time IRONMAN 70.3 world champion; Craig Alexander is excited to again be on the start line for IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong.
“I’m really looking forward to coming back to Geelong to race. It is a great place to race, the waterfront venue is awesome and I have good memories there, winning two 70.3’s and a couple of medals at Aussie titles,â€ he said.
Given the races proximity to IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship Melbourne, Geelong has attracted a stellar elite field, which includes dual Olympian Courtney Atkinson.
Atkinson is taking on IRONMAN Melbourne in a little over a month and will be looking for a race form guide tomorrow.
â€œMy goals in 2014 season are focused around trying to master the full IronmanÂ distance race and come October be competitive in Kona. Geelong 70.3 will provide a great early hit out toÂ evaluate just where my body is at with the new focus on the Ironman.”
He’ll provide Alexander with some stiff competition, along with a number of other capable men, and will be hoping to continue his unbeaten run over the 70.3 distance. Atkinson will be looking to create an early lead after the swim.
At the pointy end tomorrow will also be Tim Reed who, as the world number 5 over this distance, will be wanting to come away with a win. Reed raced well at Auckland with the second fastest run split of the day. He will have his work cut out this weekend with 2-3 athletes that should be able to match him on the day. It will come down to the bike and a fair bike at that for Reed.
Atkinson’s Olympic team mate Brad Kahlefeldt has traveled the same path switching to the longer distance and also enjoying instant success, but is determined to put his demons aside after withdrawing from this race last year in the bike leg.
Also racing this weekend with Kahlefeldt is former ITU world champion Peter Robertson and Olympian 2012 Australian 70.3 pro champion Tim Berkel and one of the best swim/bikers in the world Clayton Fettell. Fettell is coming back from eye surgery and will be looking for an improved run from last week in Melbourne. All of these guys are part of the Aeromax Team under Grant Giles based in Lennox Heads.
Olympian and two time ITU world champion Emma Moffatt will be the headline act in the women’s race as the Beijing bronze medalist is hoping to go one better than last year.
â€œI did Geelong 70.3 last year (finishing second) as a race to end my base training phase. Initially I said I’d never do another one, but I’m all entered and eager to race!! Last year I mixed drafting races with non-drafting and really enjoyed the change, so after Olympic distance long course is something I’d like to take more seriously,â€ she said.
Moffatt’s 2014 season will be a mix of Olympic distance and 70.3 races.
â€œI’ll be doing be quite a few ITU World Series races, Glasgow Commonwealth games, and also hoping to qualify for IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships and finish the season back in Australia with the Nepean and Noosa triathlons,â€ she said.
Moffatt is looking forward to racing in Geelong, and in the future expects to make a permanent move into the longer form of the sport.
â€œIt’s been months since I’ve raced so it will be good to blow the cob webs out. Geelong is a great venue for the race, last year I thought 90km on the bike would feel like forever, but the multi loop course goes relatively fast and the two loop run has a lot of variety which mentally makes it easier,â€ she said.
â€œI think there comes a time in your career where you need a change, both physically and mentally. So the natural progression seems to be to go longer. It’s still extremely hard training, but maybe less intense compared to Olympic distance. Also, athletes are able to have more freedom in the races they choose!
Have you seen the destinations Courtney (Atkinson) races in? I wish ITU choose some of the islands he goes too.â€
Other notable pro women racing are Lisa Marangon, Rebecca Hoschke and Michelle Wu. Hoping to stamp their name on the podium will also be Australian based Japanese triathlete Kiyomi Niwata and new to the pro ranks Laura Siddall.
We are making a call and will say that Siddall is a dark horse for the podium. She will have to get over the top of some more experienced and credentialed opponents though.
Lisa Marangon has recently changed to Turbo Studio and is now training with power under the watchful eye of Jo Palazzetti. The benefits of training with power properly will start to show in Lisa’s arsenal over the next few months. This should see an improvement in her long run as well.
Rebecca Hoschke is on a high after a 3rd last week in Melbourne and has stayed down south to do Geelong. Rebecca’s unbridled enthusiasm for the sport makes for some great viewing.Â
IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong is part of the Geelong Multi Sport Festival, held from Friday 7 to Sunday 9 February 2014.
Race starts at Eastern Beach at 7.05am
A one hour special will air on 7Mate, Sunday, 23 February at 2.30pm.
Start list updated but still may not be 100% accurate.