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Preview: 2014 Ironman World Championship Pro Women’s Race

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If your lucky enough to have been in Kona the past week you’d be well aware that it’s very hot right now! The 2014 Ironman World Championship, held this Saturday 11th October in Kona, may well be held in the hottest conditions for quite some time. Local’s have been heard proclaiming they’ve had the hottest summer in well over a decade, some even saying the hottest ever. Combine with this possibly the most talented male and female professional fields yet to be assembled, and ladies and gentleman we are in for one cracker of a race!

If your expecting a dominant performance from one woman on Saturday, all we can say is your in for a shock. Progressively over the past few years we’ve seen a tighter battle in the women’s race, and we can largely thank Chrissie Wellington for lifting the bar, and the professional females for accepting the challenge. There is no longer the disparity between how the men and women race; both genders train hard, race hard, and are involved in a tactical race over the Iron distance.

This year the battle up front is going to step it up another level, and we should see this flow right through the field. Defending champion Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) is back and here to defend her title. Also here are former winners Leanda Cave (GBR) and Natascha Badmann (SUI). Other previous podium placers include Rachel Joyce (GBR), Caroline Steffen (SUI) and Liz Blatchford (AUS).

The swim is going to be critical in making what will be an aggressive front pack on the bike. Expect to see Jodie Swallow, Daniela Ryf, Liz Blatchford, Rachael Joyce, Leanda Cave, Amanda Stevens, Caroline Steffen and Meredith Kessler out first; and they are not going to be waiting for anyone on the bike. I’m going to throw my cards on the table and predict a small chase group to follow, most likely of Gina Crawford, Mary Beth Ellis, Michelle Vesterby, Bree Wee and Kelly Williamson. The pack to follow will most likely contain the defending Ironman World Champion Mirinda Carfrae.

Although the swim will open up the opportunity to establish a lead on the bike, it will by no means determine the final race outcome. It will however make for an interesting tail end of the race, with the chasers forced to remain calm and stick to their own race plan. Carfrae is conditioned for this style of racing, and coach Siri Lindley will have prepared the defending champ yet again for a day of racing from behind. The big question is whether or not the young Swiss “angry bird” of Daniela Ryf can dominate on the bike as she did at the 70.3 Worlds just last month. Remember the likes of Steffen and Joyce were not present in Mont Tremblant, so the dynamics will be very different on Saturday.

So having touched on the swim and bike, we’re left with the marathon; it’s kind of important here! Expect Carfrae to deliver her trademark run, the question is simply how far behind she is off the bike. Other women to run up through the field from behind will include Caitlin Snow (USA) and Kelly Williamson (USA), with Linsey Corbin (USA) also a strong runner looking to make a dent on the marathon.

To pick the top five, let alone the podium, is a hard task this year. To be honest, a top ten finish in the 2014 women’s professional race is going to be an accomplishment to be very happy with. Not forgetting there are in essence around ten ladies here capable of the win. Despite this I’m going to call Daniela Ryf for the win, with Steffen in second and Joyce third. It’s a big call, but that’s my pick based on current form. A talented and rising athlete we are yet to mention is Heather Wurtele (CAN). Wurtele has been on the constant improve and has experience in Kona. The Canadian can swim, she can ride, and she can run fast too. Wurtele is my dark horse pick to shake up the field within the top five.

This of course is not forgetting the rest of the talented women’s field, of particular note Natascha Badmann (SUI), who at 47 years of age is still considered a major contender. Badmann finished 14th in 2013. Michelle Vesterby (DNK) finished 8th here in 2013 and will have a bit more experience under her belt in this year’s race, as will Gina Crawford (NZL) who is looking fitter than ever before and now under the guidance of Purple Patch’s Matt Dixon. Yvonne Van Vlerken (NLD) was last years 4th place finisher and can never be underestimated, despite being one of the slower swimmers in the women’s race; despite this Van Vlerken will be in good company with Liz Lyles (USA) and Corinne Abraham (GBR) very likely to swim around the same time.

The professional press conference, which only showcased a very select few from this talented women’s field, was an interesting affair and appeared to bring out the first real sign of pre race nerves from a few competitors. Here’s a little scoop from what we took from the women yesterday.

Daniela Ryf (SUI):

Daniela Ryf (SUI) is the rookie Kona contender and our pick to take the race by the horns on Saturday

Daniela Ryf (SUI) is the rookie Kona contender and our pick to take the race by the horns on Saturday

Ryf is the youngest professional female on the start line at 27 years of age, and the only female professional under 30. Dubbed “the angry bird” by her coach Brett Sutton, the former ITU talent stole the show in Mont Tremblant to be crowned Ironman 70.3 World Champion just last month. Ryf’s first impressions of the island, to which she only arrived on Tuesday, was that “it seems to be a happy place! I like it, it’s happy, and I can’t wait to race!” Ryf has a strong swim so expect to see her come out in the front pack, and is going to be a force to be reckoned with on the bike. At the press conference today, Ryf stated “I’m love racing hard! I’m looking forward to biking hard. Really hard. And see how fast I can run the marathon after.” Speaking to some of Ryf’s competitors they fear Ryf’s lack of fear; she has come into this race with no expectations and nothing to lose, and that combination is dangerous.

A little nervous looking, Caroline Steffen (SUI) dreams of winning in Kona. We would love to see Xena realise this dream tomorrow.

A little nervous looking, Caroline Steffen (SUI) dreams of winning in Kona. We would love to see Xena realise this dream tomorrow.

Caroline Steffen (SUI):
I must say it is great to see Caroline, better known as Xena, looking happy and relaxed. Xena had a tough year in 2013, losing not only her coach, but also her sponsors with the dramatic changes to TeamTBB. Xena approached Macca (Chris McCormack) asking him to coach her, and has been preparing for Kona in Thailand and at home on the Sunshine Coast of Australia. The Swiss Miss is looking fitter than ever before, and claims “I’m in a very happy place at the moment. I’ve improved too. I’m swimming faster. I’m running faster.” Xena proved this with her victory last month at Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast, running a 1:18 half marathon to take the win. Steffen’s dream is to win Kona, and come Saturday the warrior princess is going to be doing everything in her power to achieve this dream.

 

 

Rachel Joyce (GBR):

Rachel Joyce (GBR) looked pretty calm and composed. Joyce has been possibly the most consistent improver in Kona in recent years.

Rachel Joyce (GBR) looked pretty calm and composed. Joyce has been possibly the most consistent improver in Kona in recent years.

Joyce appeared relaxed and ready for her assault on this year’s world championship, despite being well aware of the level of talent and depth in the women’s field for 2014. Joyce predicts the swim will be very different to last year, with bigger swells and less favourable currents breaking the women up and a small front pack to lead out onto the bike. Despite this Joyce knows the pace will be on out on the Queen K, and is prepared to bike hard to create a large enough gap to runners like Carfrae who’s deadly marathon times simply cannot be matched by the uber bikers in the field. Joyce stated “I’ll need to bike faster, and I’ll need to run faster too. It’s really not rocket science!” Joyce has proven one of the most consistent women in recent years, and is ever improving in her Kona positioning. Having finished second to Carfrae in 2013, there is only one more positional improvement left to make, and that is to finish on top of the podium.

Liz Blatchford (AUS) finished 3rd on debut in Kona last year. The Australian is well aware the field is deeper and more talented than in 2013 and is ready to test herself tomorrow.

Liz Blatchford (AUS) finished 3rd on debut in Kona last year. The Australian is well aware the field is deeper and more talented than in 2013 and is ready to test herself tomorrow.

Liz Blatchford (AUS):

Blatchford’s first attempt at Kona went without any real noticeable hitch, finishing third on her first attempt. Having trained here in Kona the past month Blatchford knows the course and conditions as well as any of her competitors, and has a strong swim almost guaranteeing to see her leave the water amongst the front pack. As with most of the competitors in Kona, whether pro or age group, the run will be the decider, and how well Blatchford can run on Saturday will ultimately determine her end result. “What’s it going to take to beat Rinny? I don’t know. That’s the biggest question. I feel stronger on the bike and hopefully that will convert to a solid marathon.”

 

 

Mirinda Carfrae (AUS):

Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) is back to defend her World Title.

Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) is back to defend her World Title.

Carfrae presented her usual media persona, never really giving too much away. When questioned on the strength of the women’s field “I expect nothing less. This is the world championships. This is the most coveted race in triathlon I believe, outside of the olympics. I expect to be racing against the best in the world and I’m prepared for it”. Carfrae chose a different approach this year, selecting to race Challenge Roth, a bucket list race of the Australian’s. In need of a mental break, Carfrae claims she wanted to mix it up, and thus threw Challenge Roth in mid year. The Aussie pocket rocket stated: “I learned in 2010 that you really can’t stick to the same formula after a win. That kind of goes out the window a bit with extra obligations and a bit more travel. When I won last year I sat down and realised I needed a mental break – not break, but I needed to change what I’d been doing in the past. I set about preparing for Roth mid-year. I was pleasantly surprised by the result there, to say the least. Since then it’s been full speed ahead for Kona. Kona is always in the back of your mind; it has to be if you want to be successful here on the island. Business as usual the second half of the year.”

Meredith Kessler (USA) felt privileged to represent the American women at the press conference, and hopes the USA can better their previous Kona performances to finish on the podium in 2014.

Meredith Kessler (USA) felt privileged to represent the American women at the press conference, and hopes the USA can better their previous Kona performances to finish on the podium in 2014.

Meredith Kessler (USA):
Following a DNF in 2012 Kessler returned in 2013 to record a 7th place finish, with a front pack swim and 4:55:13 ride to start the marathon in a nice position. The American’s 3:16:35 run wasn’t enough to maintain a top five position, but all we have seen is improvement in her run over previous years. With a solid preparation in 2013, Kessler and coach Matt Dixon have adopted a similar approach leading into this years world championship, with an increased focus on heat adaptation, and plenty of course exposure riding out on the Queen K, running in the energy lab, and swimming in the clear blue ocean waters of Kona. “There is no substitute for experience on a course like Kona so we want to come into the race with as few questions as possible so a lot of the the race comes from muscle memory.” Coach Matt Dixon has been focusing on improving Kessler’s marathon, an obvious weakness if the American wants to finish on the podium, with the key, they believe, in having the energy in T2 to sustain a quality pace throughout the 26.2 miles. Kessler claimed she was “honoured to be representing the American women at the press conference” although felt there were others just as worthy, if not worthier, of being up there. These athletes would include Mary Beth Ellis, Caitlin Snow, and Linsey Corbin, all of whom have recorded top ten finishes at Kona.

A few other women of note not present at the press conference:

Mary Beth Ellis (USA):
MBE was forced to withdraw from the race last year following an accident in training which left her with a broken collarbone. Deciding to race and see how it went, MBE declared the swim was painful, but the pain on the bike unbearable. Ellis would have to be our pick of the American’s, who to date have been unsuccessful in beating the Aussie and Brit ladies to the top step on the podium in Kona. Ellis must be one of the toughest competitors on the circuit, dubbed by former coach Brett Sutton “the honey badger”, she loves to hurt and proved that she can swim and ride with the best in 2012. Siri Lindley took Ellis back under her wing this year, following a four year break from working together, so it will be interesting to see what form Ellis brings on Saturday. If she can swim front pack the girls will struggle to drop her on the bike, the question is does she have the run speed to clock a sub 3 hour marathon?

Leanda Cave (GBR):
Cave experienced a tough year in 2013 following her World Championship Title in 2012, and is another athlete under a new coach, Clif English, for her 2014 Kona campaign. Cave raced only one Ironman in 2014, winning Ironman Sweden, and validating her position on the start line this Saturday. Cave won at Ironman 70.3 Cozumel, finished 2nd at the Ironman 70.3 European Championship in Wiesbaden, and 3rd at Ironman 70.3 Boulder. Reading other race predictions you could easily forget Cave as a contender this weekend, and Cave publicly tweeted today “Some people say I’m acting like I don’t give two hoots about the IMKona picks… I’m not acting! #LetTheRaceDecide”. Cave knows how to bring good form to the races that count, and that is what matters most in Kona.
The betting market:
http://www.sportsbet.com.au/betting/triathlon/kona-ironman-world-championship.

 

Professional women’s start list:

101 Mirinda Carfrae FPRO FEMALE AUS
102 Rachel Joyce FPRO FEMALE GBR
103 Meredith Kessler FPRO FEMALE USA
104 Liz Blatchford FPRO FEMALE AUS
105 Caroline Steffen FPRO FEMALE CHE
106 Gina Crawford FPRO FEMALE NZL
107 Yvonne Van Vlerken FPRO FEMALE NLD
108 Linsey Corbin FPRO FEMALE USA
109 Caitlin Snow FPRO FEMALE USA
110 Liz Lyles FPRO FEMALE USA
111 Leanda Cave FPRO FEMALE GBR
112 Daniela Ryf FPRO FEMALE SWZ
113 Amber Ferreira FPRO FEMALE USA
114 Melissa Hauschildt FPRO FEMALE AUS (Editor note: Withdrawn)
115 Sara Gross FPRO FEMALE CAN
116 Catriona Morrison FPRO FEMALE GBR
117 Mary Beth Ellis FPRO FEMALE USA
118 Melanie Burke FPRO FEMALE NZL
119 Asa Lundstrom FPRO FEMALE SWE
120 Beth Shutt FPRO FEMALE USA
121 Michelle Vesterby FPRO FEMALE DNK
122 Kristin Moeller FPRO FEMALE DEU
123 Lucy Gossage FPRO FEMALE GBR
124 Amanda Stevens FPRO FEMALE USA
125 Jodie Swallow FPRO FEMALE GBR
126 Sofie Goos FPRO FEMALE BEL
127 Natascha Badmann FPRO FEMALE CHE
128 Julia Gajer FPRO FEMALE DEU
129 Lisa Roberts FPRO FEMALE USA
130 Corinne Abraham FPRO FEMALE GBR
131 Simone Braendli FPRO FEMALE CHE
132 Jackie Arendt FPRO FEMALE USA
133 Kim Schwabenbauer FPRO FEMALE USA
134 Bree Wee FPRO FEMALE USA
135 Jessie Donavan FPRO FEMALE USA
136 Heather Wurtele FPRO FEMALE CAN
137 Kelly Williamson FPRO FEMALE USA
138 Katja Konschak FPRO FEMALE DEU

Trizone reporter Christie Sym will be reporting live from Kona on Saturday. Refer to both Trizone and Trizone Women’s twitter feed for live updates, and photo’s and hopefully some video feed on the website to follow on both Trizone and Trizone Women.

 

Karl is a keen age group triathlete who races more than he trains. Good life balance! Karl works in the media industry in Australia and is passionate about the sport of triathlon.

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Noosa: Jake Montgomery Finally Makes His Debut

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Celebrating its 35th birthday the Noosa Triathlon will be in party mode, but the very courageous Gold Coast based professional Jake Montgomery will be the one with the biggest smile, as he finally celebrates his long-awaited debut in Australia’s greatest triathlon.

“I planned on doing Noosa for the past four years, but unfortunately I have never made it to the start line,” Jake said with a casual comment that masks several horror years of extreme courage, immense pain, hardship and the rebuilding of both body and mind.

A handy runner and swimmer at school it was his first swim coach, Mick Maroney that convinced him to have a crack at triathlon. With year 12 behind him, young Jake headed over to Vitoria-Gasteiz in Spain with Jamie Turner’s squad to learn about the draft legal world of ITU Continental Cup, before eventually finding long course racing. With the help of Aussie IRONMAN legend Craig Alexander, in 2015 Jake threw himself in the deep end and headed to Boulder to continue his triathlon education on the US circuit.

“I spent three months in the US. I did a lot of training with Crowie, and he taught me the ins and outs of 70.3. He knows every aspect of it, and I was surprised how much he taught me and all the tips and tricks he gave me.”

A fifth at IRONMAN 70.3 Port Macquarie, second in 70.3 Mandurah and Western Sydney proved that the hard work was paying off, but it was IRONMAN 70.3 in Geelong where Jake finally got the result he was looking really.

“I was getting closer, and I was pretty determined to break through, and that is when I raced Geelong in February 2016 and had my first win at the National Championship. With the win at Geelong being at the National titles a lot of the sponsors came onboard, and it got pretty full on.”

Only Slowing Jake Down

Two weeks later Jake’s world was flipped upside down when he was hit by a garbage truck only 500m from home while riding back from the pool. His bike and right foot went underneath the rear wheels, and he ruptured two ligaments in his right ankle. With the pain, Jake thought he had broken his shin and that it was snapped in half and remembers picking up his leg to see if it was still straight.

Four weeks in a hospital, two weeks in a boot and Jake was given the okay to start back again…slowly. Following the doctor’s orders to the letter by May 2016, he was again headed Stateside and trying to make up lost ground in his quest to race the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships on the Sunshine Coast. Returning to Australia Jake was in the form of his life, but in a cruel twist of fate, only 16 hours before the event his world was again thrown into chaos.

“I was doing the final spin to see that the bike was ready to race in the morning. I remember every minute of the morning, lunch and getting the bike ready and then rolling out over Alexandra Headland and that is about it. I remember the first minutes of the ride, and then I got hit by the car and things flipped upside down. I have a month missing after that. It wasn’t until weeks later that I looked at my Garmin to see that the incident happened about 20 minutes into the ride. When I went from 40kmh to zero km/h.”

“I don’t have any recollection of hospital time, and when I got back home, I was just sitting in the lounge. It was all I was doing through the day. I had a fractured sternum and shoulder and several muscle tears through the neck and shoulders, and there was also brain bleeding and swelling in three different spots. The fractures are a six-week heal, but the Neurologist said he didn’t think I would be running again. He said we would give it four months, and you can try if you are desperate, but he wasn’t recommending that I try again. That wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear, and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else at that stage of my life, so I was going to try my hardest to get back to running or at least give it a go.”

“I was seeing speech therapists and occupational therapists and all the doctors. In the first session with the speech therapist, she came in, and she was quite shocked. She said, ‘Oh, you can talk.’ My speech wasn’t great, and my sentences were really jumbled and stop-start for the first couple of months. She said from what I have read happened to your brain, on paper, you shouldn’t be able to talk. So that was pretty scary to hear that I got that lucky.”

“I went through some pretty dark spots early on, where going to the kitchen was the most I could do all day. Going from 25 hours of training a week to zero was a bit of a shock and knowing that running might never happen again, I was pretty depressed at that stage and had pretty bad thoughts. I was lucky that I had my parents by my side the whole time, looking after me and helping me through it all. Without them, things would have been a lot different.”

For eight weeks Jake did nothing but then he embarked on another program to rebuild his body and confidence in the hope that he would one day get back to competing in the sport that he loved. Initially, it was the hydro pool to rebuild his strength, then a five-minute walk became a two and a half hour walk and eventually he was on a stationary trainer building up week by week. Four months after the incident his training miraculously started in earnest when he was able to run, ride and swim properly again.

Back racing in Geelong

IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong in February 2017 was his comeback race, and a fifth place in a strong field was the boost he needed. Similar results at IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder and Santa Cruz have helped rebuild his confidence and reboot his career and now Jake is determined to use the Noosa Triathlon as final hit out before IRONMAN 70.3 Western Sydney Asia Pacific Championships in November.

“After Santa Cruz, I made it to Vegas for a sponsorship commitment for Cervelo then took two weeks recovery and let the body reset. As soon as I got home, I got back into training and now have my eyes set on Noosa. I am looking forward to the draft free bike. Racing for half the time as a 70.3 I will be able to push 100 percent and see how long the body can last for. It will be a bit of fun.”

“Noosa is probably the most stacked race in Australia and the organisers put up a good prizemoney, so it encourages all the professionals in Australia to toe the line and have a crack. It is only a two and half hour drive for me so that is just nice and no plane flight required which is a bonus. Noosa will be a nice hit out and the perfect opportunity to use a bit of speed and see how the body comes down from the altitude.”

“I have spoken to plenty of people who have done it before and they love the race and the whole atmosphere of the weekend. I have heard that it is crazy busy but pretty good at the same time. So, I am looking forward to getting up there and getting amongst it,” he said with anticipation.

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Noosa Triathlon: The Big Guns Will Be In Town To Celebrate

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The 35th Noosa Triathlon Multi Sport Festival is shaping up to be the biggest yet, with the who’s who of Australian sport and some of the nation’s most recognisable faces heading to the Sunshine Coast to join in the birthday celebrations.

The five-day festival (1-5 November) features an ocean swim, a fun run, the Charity Golf Day and elite cycling and running events and culminates on Sunday 5 November with the Noosa Triathlon hosting more than 8,500 competitors, making it the world’s largest standard distance triathlon.

Headlining the Noosa Triathlon are key athletes from Australia’s Commonwealth Games triathlon team for 2018, Ashleigh Gentle and Jake Birtwhistle, defending champion Dan Wilson, plus Commonwealth Games hopefuls Aaron Royle, Ryan Bailie, Gillian Backhouse and Luke Willian.

The long-distance world is also well represented with Sarah Crowley fresh from her podium at the IRONMAN World Championships, IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Champion Josh Amberger, Jake Montgomery making his long-awaited Noosa debut, Liz Blatchford in her first race back as a new mum and two time World Duathlon Champion Felicity Sheedy-Ryan mixing it up with a swim.

Defending champ Ashleigh Gentle is shooting for Noosa title #5, and Dan Wilson is hoping to go back to back this year, but they are fully aware of the strength of the field assembled for the 35th anniversary year.

Four-time champ, Ashleigh Gentle has developed a real affinity with the Noosa over many years, and she can’t wait to get back this year.

“I’ve raced six times, and been up a couple more on top of that to watch and be part of the festival. I love the atmosphere. I love Queensland, and it is very special to come back to the race each year after spending so much time abroad. I love seeing familiar faces and being surrounded by so many other people who love triathlon. Noosa has always been really important to me. It’s the one I look forward to the most. I obviously want to do well, but there is a lot less pressure than the intensity of World Series races.”

“I would love to defend my title. I’m sure as always it will be a competitive field, but I’m looking forward to getting out there and going hard. Noosa Triathlon has been a big part of my career, and I am thrilled I can be a part of this milestone, although it only feels like yesterday we were celebrating the 30th year of Noosa,” she recalled.

Dan Wilson is a Noosa veteran, and he is hoping he can revisit the form that saw him dominate in 2016 and go out on a high note.

“I think this is around my 10th Noosa. I first came here in 2003 as a little junior. I’ve missed a few through injuries along the way, but always come back when I’m able. It is a bastion of Australia triathlon, and it is a ripping location, it is one of the ‘funnest’ races on tour. What more could you need?”

“I would obviously love to repeat last year’s result, but it also looks like it will probably be the best field we’ve ever seen at Noosa, so it’s going to be a tough ask. Noosa is always a special race, it is usually at or near the end of the season, so everyone is looking to finish the season strong at a fun race.”

“This year, Noosa will be even more special, I’m hanging up the suit at the end of this year, so it’ll be the last chance to go round at Noosa, and one of my last races ever, so I’m looking forward to really savouring the weekend,” Wilson said.

Aussie Olympian and two time Noosa champ Aaron Royle is pumped up and glad to back in Noosa looking attempting to keep his perfect Noosa record intact.

“I’ve raced Noosa twice and had two good wins there, which has been fantastic for myself in my career. I guess because of that, and the expectation to go there and win is greater with each year. I want to win again to make it three from three races, but that is always easier said than done. I’m sure there will be a handful of others saying that they also want to win.”

“I knew of the Noosa triathlon before I knew what triathlon really was, and certainly before I followed the sport. I think it was Channel 7 showing it back in the day and I remember thinking this looks pretty cool (before I even contemplated doing one myself).”

“For me, Noosa always signifies the end of my racing season, but with a race of this significances, I’ve never struggled to find motivation for this race. It’s the biggest domestic race on the calendar with so many legendary winners that have gone before, so it is easy to see why so many top-level athletes turn up each year,” Aaron said.

IRONMAN 70.3 specialist Jake Montgomery might be a Noosa debutante this year, but he is well aware of Noosa’s legendary status.

“I’ve been meaning to race Noosa for a few year’s now but have never been able to toe the line. I went there once a few years back for surfing but have never experienced the triathlon weekend.”

“Noosa is definitely the pinnacle race in Australia and one that everyone loves to put on their calendar. Not necessarily just the race but the whole weekend of event and atmosphere make it a must for many. Having not raced anything shorter than a 70.3 for the past three years it will be interesting to see how my body handles the faster racing and pushing myself over the shorter distance. I am mostly looking forward to the swim, any race with a beach start and ocean swim is a must for me.”

“Nearing the end of a hard year it will be a good hit out to finish off. While it’s still a competitive race, it will also be a lot of fun catching up with friends, sponsors and watching the other events before the triathlon. Being one of Australia’s oldest triathlons, it is now also the biggest in the country with sold out entries and days of multisport events. It attracts some of the best athletes in the world and organisers of the event have the weekend dialled in,” Jake said.

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Ironman World Championship: Europeans Dominate and Records Fall

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Daniela Ryf of Switzerland celebrates after winning the IRONMAN World Championship on October 14, 2017 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

European dominance of the IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona has continued but not as the pre-race script had been written.

While Switzerland’s “Angry Bird” Daniela Ryf made it three Kona victories, it was not defending champion Jan Frodeno’s day, with the men’s championship title transferring to fellow countryman Patrick Lange.

Coming from a nine-minute deficit off the bike, Lange revelled in near perfect conditions to write himself into the IRONMAN history books to destroy the course record set in 2011 by Australian Craig Alexander, with a 2:39:59 marathon that helped deliver a total race time of 8:01:40.

In a record-breaking day, Aussie Cameron Wurf won the battle of the bikers taking control of the race at the 110km mark and leading into the bike/run transition to set a new bike course record of 4:12:54, more than five minutes faster than Normann Stadler’s 2006 record.

Wurf surrendered his lead early on in the run, as Lionel Sanders (CAN and Sebastian Kienle (GER) made their presence felt, but very quickly all eyes turned to a charging Patrick Lange who had moved into third at 21km of the marathon intent on reducing the six-minute deficit to the leading Sanders.

Lange was on a mission and keen to improve on his third place last year and with 5km to go on the run he flew past Sanders, heading for town and the adoring crowd lining the run course and the finish line on Ali’i Drive.

“It’s everything I ever dreamed of. Oh, my god, I cannot believe it,” Lange said. “I always, always, always since I was a child dreamed of having this crown. From time to time you think someone is hitting with a baseball beneath your knees and you just want to drop out. I had to fight, I had to fight so hard,” Lange said at the finish line.

A fading Sanders managed to hold off the hard-charging David McNamee (GBR) for second with Kienle and James Cunnama (ZAF) crossing the finish to take fourth and fifth.

Swiss miss Daniela Ryf joined an exclusive club at the IRONMAN World Championships, recording her third win in Kona with a very skilful and strategic victory that while remarkably effective, lacked her usual flair and total dominance.

Ryf didn’t have it all her way, with Lucy Charles dominating the swim and majority of the bike before Ryf decided that enough was enough. Ryf wrestled the lead off the Brit and charged home with the fastest run of the day, putting a nine-minute gap to her chasers by the end of the 42.2km run.

“It was the hardest I had to ever fight for the win. I’m so happy to turn it around today,” a more emotional than usual Ryf said at the finish line.

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Ironman World Championship: Patrick Lange Smashes Course Record and Daniela Ryf Earns Third Straight Win

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Daniela Ryf of Switzerland celebrates after winning the IRONMAN World Championship. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Patrick Lange (DEU) and Daniela Ryf (CHE) earned championship titles with momentous performances today at the 2017 IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i. Lange passed Lionel Sanders (CAN) in the final three miles, clocking in at 8:01:40 and establishing a new course record (formerly 8:03:56 by Craig Alexander, 2011). Ryf earned her third consecutive crown with a time of 8:50:47, joining an exclusive “three-peat” winners’ circle alongside the newest IRONMAN Hall of Fame inductee Chrissie Wellington and Natascha Badmann, Dave Scott, Paula Newby-Fraser and Mark Allen. Over 2,350 athletes from 66 countries, regions and territories on six continents started the IRONMAN World Championship race on the Island of Hawai`i in the toughest one-day endurance event in the world.

Patrick Lange of Germany putting the hurt on as he runs to victory and a new course record during the IRONMAN World Championship. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Lange, who raced in only his fourth IRONMAN to-date, had an incredible ascension after having been 17th out of the swim in today’s race. Shortly after the swim, a pack of strong cyclists including Sanders, Sebastian Kienle (GER) and Cameron Wurf (AUS) broke away from the group. Wurf would sail into T2, shattering the 2006 bike course record held by Normann Stadler (4:18:23) with a 4:12:54 split. Sanders and Kienle also smashed the record with 4:14:19 and 4:14:57 split times, respectively. On the run, Sanders took a quick lead as Kienle fell into second. Meanwhile, Lange moved from 11th place to a steady third-place position by the half-marathon marker. Lange then made a decisive pass at mile 23 on the run, as he moved ahead of Sanders to take a hold of the lead, finishing strong in first place. With a 2:39:59 run split, he was only 14 seconds away from breaking the run course record he set last year (2:39:45).

Sanders hung on for second place, ultimately concluding his race with a time of 8:04:07. David McNamee (GBR), Kienle and James Cunnama (ZAF) rounded out the top five.

McNamee had the second fastest run split of the race with 2:45:30, helping him clinch a third-place podium finish by more than two minutes ahead of Kienle.

Defending champion and Olympic Gold Medalist Jan Frodeno dug deep after back spasms slowed him first to a complete stop and then run/walk pace, mustering enough strength to finish the race.

Lucy Charles (GBR) led the professional women out of the water with a 48:48 split, missing the course record by only five seconds. After a speedy transition, Charles took the lead on the bike and had an approximately a five-and-a-half-minute lead over defending champ Daniela Ryf (CHE), Sarah Crowley (AUS) and Annabel Luxford (AUS). This pace remained consistent down the Queen Ka`ahumanu Highway until Ryf attacked, making up over five minutes over the final 25 miles of the bike, which positioned her at the front of the pack. Ryf then greatly extended her lead on the run, with Charles, Crowley and Heather Jackson (USA), fighting for the remaining podium positions.

Lucy Charles of Great Britain cools down during the IRONMAN World Championship on October 14, 2017 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Ryf took first at 8:50:47, almost exactly four minutes off of her own 2016 course record time of 8:46:46. Calling on her epic running abilities, the Swiss star claimed her third successive IRONMAN World Championship victory.

Charles, a Kona rookie, maintained her second-place position throughout most of the run and ultimately to the finish. Crowley rounded out the top three in her second-ever appearance at the IRONMAN World Championship, finishing her race exactly two minutes behind Charles. Jackson and Kaisa Sali (FIN) rounded out the top five women.

 

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Ironman World Championship: The Best Run Images from Kona 2017

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It’s never an easy day out when racing any Ironman race let alone the World Championship. Then add in some hot and humid weather and you really have a very tough set of conditions.

Here are some of the amazing images that were captured during today’s race.

Lucy Charles trying to remain as cool as possible during the run leg. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Lionel Sanders of Canada runs through an aid station and takes on extra fluids and also trying to cool himself. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Patrick Lange of Germany celebrates before crossing the finish line to win the IRONMAN World Championship and setting a course record of 8:01.39 beating Craig Alexander’s 2011 record of 8:03.56. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Age group athletes out on the run course. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

John Joseph McGowan of the United States showing us his guns and ink work. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Unfortunately Jan Frodeno of Germany wasn’t able to really defend his title today due to an injury. He eventually finishes 35th. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

The sun sets on Kailua Kona, Hawaii and competitors continue their journey for their personal success. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Daniela Ryf nearly the final few kilometres during the Ironman World Championship 2017, (Photo: Jesper Gronnemark/Red Bull Content Pool)

Kaisa Sali of Finland celebrates in the finish chute after finishing fifth during the IRONMAN World Championship. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Patrick Lange of Germany putting the hurt on as he runs to victory and a new course record during the IRONMAN World Championship. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Runners compete as the sun sets in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Lucy Charles of Great Britain runs through the barren landscape and eventually to coming 2nd. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

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Ironman World Championship: The Best Bike Images from Kona 2017

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With the backdrop of the most infamous course in the world, the Ironman World Championship bike course never misses by the providing the most amazing landscapes for the bike course. This year was nothing short of spectacular.

Igor Amorelli of Brazil on the bike during the IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Martin Fredriksson of Sweden leads a pack on the bike during the IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Michael Weiss of Austria feeling the hurt during the bike leg. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Jocelyn Mccauley of the United States competes on the bike during the IRONMAN World Championship on October 14, 2017 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

A cyclist leaves the transition area with her bike during the IRONMAN World Championship on October 14, 2017 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. (Photo by Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

KAILUA KONA, HI – OCTOBER 14: A cyclist competes during the IRONMAN World Championship on October 14, 2017 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Lucy Charles of Great Britain showed how strong her bike leg was during today’s Ironman World Championship. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Thomas Gentry McGrath of the United States cools down with water during today’s World Championship in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Michelle Alexander from Denver holds up an ‘IRONMAN are sexy’ sign as athletes cycle past. She certainly brought some smiles. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Cameron Wurf of Australia cycles ahead of Lionel Sanders of Canada during the bike leg of today’s IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. Cameron would go on to set a new bike course record. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

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