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Kona: Our Ironman World Championship 2016 Predictions

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The Trizone office sat down to discuss and debate the men’s and women’s podium for many hours and they finally come up with their predictions.

We don’t know about you, but the team at Trizone is extraordinarily excited about this weekend’s Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Arguably the most gruelling athletic event in the world, the race includes a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile of bicycle and a 26.2 mile run.

Suffice to say, it’s definitely not for the fainted hearted. The men and women who participate in this event are amongst the fittest people on the planet, and in celebration of their efforts we’ve decided to give you a guide to our top five male and female contenders for the big race.

Before we jump into the predictions, I also wanted to say a huge thanks to Thorsten Radde for his invaluable insights into the numbers – neck, I’m a numbers kind of guy as well. Thanks mate!

MEN

Jan Frodeno

The 35-year-old German comes into this year’s World Ironman Championship as a raging hot favourite and deservedly so! Last year’s victory in Kona was extremely significant as it made Frodeno the only triathlete (male of female) to win both an Olympic Gold medal (Beijing 2008) and an Ironman World Championship. After finishing third in 2014, Frodeno started last year’s race in style, completing the swim in second place, before really asserting his authority during the cycling leg for a finishing time of 8:14:40. His form coming into this year’s race has been ominous to say the least. Last July he set a new world record for the fastest iron-distance triathlon time after clocking 7:35:39 for the 140.6 mile Challenge Roth in Germany. But what else do you expect? With a nickname like ‘Frodo’ it’s no wonder he’s champion at long journeys!

Sebastian Kienle

Kienle was only eight-years-old when he boldly declared to his third grade teacher that he wanted to be a professional triathlete. 2014 Kona champion is very much the baron of the bicycle, with the cycling leg often proving to be his strongest stage. In the 2012 World Ironman Championship he recorded the fastest bike time despite having a flat tyre, while his 2014 World Championship win was very built on his strong cycling – he was actually slower in the swimming legs than second placed Ben Hoffman and third placed Jan Frodendo. He will be buoyed by the fact that he comes into Kona after taking first place in Ironman European Championship in Frankfurt last March. A master of the 70.3 mile race, Kienle has twice been crowned World Champion in this category (2012 and 2013) and was the runner up in 2015 and 2016.

Frederik Van Lierde

The 2013 Ironman World Champion is being touted as one of the favourites this year. Although a picture circulating of him running this week in Kona shows him looking very lean. Maybe a bit too lean. We could be wrong and would be happy to be wrong but you need a bit of body fat to race this distance.

Lionel Sanders

Missed in his first attempt. He is an enigma. He would have to be the one guy that all the other are male pros are watching. If he has got the recipe right he will be hard to beat. This guy does not seem to have a pain barrier. He will go deep to win this.

Brent McMahon

Although he has only been part of the Ironman Circuit for three years, McMahon has already had a pretty significant impact. In 2014 he announced himself to the world when he won his debut Ironman race in Arizona with a track record time and the fastest Ironman set by a rookie. McMahon made his World Championship debut last year coming in an impressive ninth place and if his recent form is any indication, he looks almost certain to better this in 2016. On May 29 he set the second fastest Ironman time ever when he racked up his second win in Brazil with a time of 7:46:10.

Andy Potts

A former member of the USA national swimming team, Potts became a professional triathlete in 2003 and participated in the 2004 Olympics just 18 months after picking up the sport. In 2007 he won the Ironman 70.3 Championship, and currently has seven Ironman race wins to his name. At Kona last year, Potts was one of the pace setters during swimming stage (no surprises there), with his 00:50:56 was only bettered by Jan Frodeno (00:50:50) and Dylan McNeice (00:50:45) but he dropped off during the cycling stage. In terms of performances this year, Pott’s definite highlight was his win at Ironman Canada in Whistler. Potts registered a time of 8:20:23, more than seven minutes ahead of second placed Pedro Gomes (8:27:31).

Men’s podium

We strongly believe that the men’s field will be flooded with the European’s with a sprinkling of Canadian and Aussie. First will be a toss-up between Jan and Sebastian. These two are the finest athletes going around over the last few years. Rounding out the podium will be Brent with a possibility of having an Aussie nudging the 3rd place on the podium. Both Luke and Tim will be there however we are unsure as to the depth in both of them right at this moment – we know that they have it, but did they bring it to Kona? Let’s hope they have both left last year’s performances in 2015 and it’s not playing with their heads.

  1. Jan Frodeno – Jan has just been too good in all the big races. Unless he has some bad luck (mechanical, stomach bug or so) I think he’ll be able to deal with everything his competition and the course throw at him.
  2. Sebastian Kienle – Putting Sebi in #2 is a bit tricky – I think he’ll risk a lot to win the race – even if that means he could struggle late in the run and finish in 8th as last year. But I hope Sebi will have a great race and it’ll take everything from Jan to run him down.
  3. Brent McMahon – Brent will have learned from last year’s slow (for him!) 3:06 marathon. He’ll take the next step in his Ironman racing and will finish on the podium.

WOMEN

Daniela Ryf

After running second at Kona in 2014, Ryf went one better last year to take out first place. While she see posted a great time in the swim last year (00:56:14), her best stage was definitely the cycling leg. The Swiss native was far and away the fastest cyclist with her time of 04:50:46 more than four minutes better than Canada’s Angela Neath who registered the second best time for that stage. Throw in the fact that Ryf also won the 2015 70.3 World Championship and it will be hard for her to top last year’s effort. Ryf’s form has been decent this year. While she dropped out of Ironman Frankfurt with hypothermia, she bounced back strongly to take out the Ironman Switzerland with an awesome time of 8:51:50. She couldn’t defend her 70.3 World Championship title after coming fourth on the Sunshine Coast, but ‘Angry Bird’ is still expected to be among the top three at Kona.

Mirinda Carfrae

To say Carfrae’s last outing at Kona was disaster would be an understatement. The Australian pocket rocket was hit by a car in the lead up to the race, but still participated, eventually withdrawing midrace with back pain. This year’s edition will be the Queenslander’s eight attempt at the gruelling race. She regularly finds herself on the podium at Kona having won the race in 2010, 2013 and 2014, while placing second twice (2009 and 2011), and third once (2012). In fact, the 35-year-old still holds the course record at Kona after completing the circuit with a time of 08:52:14 back in 2013. Carfrae has been performing strongly in the lead up to Kona. This year she broke the Ironman Austria women’s race record with an 8:41:17 time, beating Linsey Corbin’s previous record by one minute and 25 seconds!

Jodie Swallow

Like Carfrae, Swallow is another athlete looking to put a disappointing Kona DNF behind her. Last year Swallow withdrew from the race during the early stages of the run, after pushing herself too hard in pursuit of the win. Swallow’s greatest strength is definitely her swimming. In her last two attempts at Kona she has been the first out of the water. She is also a strong cyclist, but she’s been known to run out of energy during the run. Her build up has been mixed. She didn’t finish Ironman South Africa after breaking her elbow mid race, but she bounced back to take out the Asia Pacific Ironman in Cairns. She also bought up her sixth straight South Africa 70.3 Championship.

Yvonne Van Vlerken

A veteran of the long distance triathlon circuit for close on 10 years, Van Vlerken has proven herself to be a worthy podium contender coming into her fifth race at Kona. Although she qualified for last year’s race, the 2008 runner-up decided not to participate so soon after racing in Roth, preferring to focus instead on this year’s World Championships. A strong cyclist, Van Vlerken generally loses time during the swim stage. That said, she often does well during the run too and is more than capable of running under 3:05. Her build up to Kona has been solid if not spectacular. She won Ironman Barcelona and the Challenge Wanaka but placed third in Ironman Western Australia and the Challenge Roth.

Heather Jackson

Jackson’s fifth place at Kona last year made her the top finishing American in 2015. A former Ice Hockey player, she picked up long distance triathlon racing while teaching English at a private school in Thailand. Since turning pro in 2009, Jackson has focused primarily on 70.3 races and was runner up in the 70.3 world Championships in 2013. The highlight of her 2016 season was definitely excellent performance at Ironman Lake Placid during which she registered a new course record (09:09:42). A consistent runner and cyclist, Jackson will probably need to improve her swimming if she wants to finish on the podium in 2016.

Women’s podium

There’s certainly no safe houses in this field either. If Rinny has it dialed-in, then it will be game over for anyone who – go you Aussie pocket rocket! Dani will be good form this year and we believe she’ll be very hard to beat. The third place getter will be Mel, another hard hut Aussie.

  1. Daniela Ryf – Dani has been magnificent in Roth and also in Zurich just one week later. She and her coach are smart enough to pull that off while still preparing for Kona. She’ll run close to three hours and Rinny won’t be able to make up enough time on the run.
  2. Mirinda Carfrae – Rinny is probably as hungry as ever to show that the Ironman Hawaii title is hers. But to reclaim her title she’ll need a faster bike than ever, and that’ll probably take something out of her run legs. I’d love it if the race becomes close towards the end of the run, but I’m afraid Rinny will be too far behind in T2.
  3. Melissa Hauschild – Mel will hopefully be able to finally race Kona – and she’d be disappointed finishing “only” third. But if her two top competitors are in good shape and have a great race, Mel has to be content with gaining experience in the deep Kona field.

 

A cyclist and tech geek at heart with a passion for new shiny things and a huge appetite for triathlon. I spend most of my time between managing two of Australia's best triathletes and a traditional corporate life.

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Challenge Roma – The First Big European Challenge Event In 2018

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On April 15, 2018, will be Challenge Roma’s second edition. After its debut in 2017, the Italian capital will be again protagonist of great international triathlon in a new location, the Rome Marina “Porto Turistico di Roma”, with new distances: 1.9 km swimming, 90 km bike, 21 km running. A middle distance like Challenge’s primary races, Challenge Roma will be the first European race of the year too. A chance for triathletes from all over the world to test their athletic preparation, in a very fast and beautiful path, in Roman Spring beginning.

Porto Turistico di Roma will also be home of the Expo Village, which will host numerous side activities for the entire weekend starting from Friday. The involvement of schools and local institutions, and then go on Saturday with the Sprint triathlon, the paratriathlon super sprint, valid as the second stage of the Italian Championship, before the Challenge Roma race on Sunday morning.

Challenge Roma Location

For the second edition of Challenge Roma, a new location was selected: the Porto Turistico di Roma. In fact, Rome extends its borders to the coasts of the Tyrrhenian sea, and its marina is a central point for many activities, thanks to the excellent sea-water quality. Completely renovated, the Marina is close to the Leonardo Da Vinci Fiumicino Airport, and offers a lot of public services including restaurants, shops, children spaces and a long, romantic walk through piers and boats.

Protagonists

What will kick off at the Challenge Roma will be a high-level parterre. Attracted by the charm of the capital and by the calendar that places the race as the first test of the 2018 season in Europe, lots of pro’s are keen to join Challenge Roma second edition and the fair weather of spring.

Among others, the Slovenian Jaroslav Kovacic, 34, the British Will Clarke, 33, the German Andreas Dreitz, 34 years winner of Cervia (Italy) full distance. But they will not be the only ones. Also, the Germans Alexander Schilling, 30, and Michael Goehner, 38, the Spaniards Inaki Baldellou, 29, and Pablo Dapena Gonzalez, 30, the Russian Georgii Kaurov, 25, and the young British George Goodwin, 22 years.

Among the women, all eyes will be on the Italian medium-distance champion Marta Bernardi, 28 years old and the new name of the international triathlon. Two skilled athletes will challenge her: the Dutch Yvonne Van Vlerken, 39, and Britain’s Caroline Livesey, 38 years old, and Sofie Goos, 28 years old from Belgium. In addition to them also the Hungarian Gabriella Zelinka, 27, the young Russian Mariia Bibicheva, just 21 years old, the Czech Simona Krivankova, 35, the two Belgian Sofie Goos and Karen Steurs, respectively 37 and 38 years, and the Croatian Sonja Skevin, 23 years old.

Paratriathlon, 2nd Stage Italian Championship

The long weekend of the Challenge Roma will host Saturday, April 2 at 2 pm the 2nd stage of the Italian Paratriathlon championship on the Super Sprint distance (0.4 km of swimming, 10 km of bike, 2.5 km of running). At the start over 40 athletes for a parterre of the highest level led by the Rio 2016 Olympic bronze Giovanni Achenza in addition to Italian champion pts5 Gianfilippo Mirabile and multi-champion champion Veronica Plebani.

Challenge Roma Sprint

Saturday, April 14 will be staged, starting at 10.30, also a race Sprint distance (750 m swimming, 20 km cycling and 5 km running) open to all members of the Italian and International Triathlon Federation. The route will develop almost entirely within the Port of Rome, with the exception of the cycling village that will “stretch” on the seafront in a 5 km circuit to be repeated 4 times. The stretch is completely flat.

Time Schedule

It all starts on Friday, April 13, from 10 am with the Duathlon School promotional event, dedicated to schools: children will compete in the area inside the Marina.

From 2 pm, the afternoon will be dedicated to the public with the opening of the Triathlon Expo, where brands and technical equipment dedicated to the discipline will be exhibited. Saturday, April 14th we start with Challenge Sprint triathlon at 10.30 a.m., followed by Paratriathlon Super Sprint at 2 p.m., valid as the second stage of the Italian Championship series and then finish at 4 p.m. with the Challenge Duathlon Kids dedicated to kids and youngsters of Lazio’s triathlon schools. Also, in the afternoon, starting at 4.30 p.m., Challenge Roma briefing (Ita and Eng) in view of the main event of the following day.

Sunday, April 15 will be the day of the Challenge Roma, which starts at 13.15 am. From 5.15 it is expected the leading athletes arrival who will be rewarded immediately with the Flower Ceremony, a characteristic symbol of CHALLENGEFAMILY.

The long triathlon weekend will close up in the evening with the Award Ceremony and live music “farewell party” starting at 9 pm.

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Challenge Family Introduces A World Ranking For Pro-athletes

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Challenge has decided to expand the successful European Money Ranking in 2018 to a so-called Challenge World Ranking. This means that professional Athletes can earn points not only in European races but also in races outside of Europe. The earned points count up in a final ranking at the end of the season with a total bonus prize purse of $165.000.

With this World Ranking, Challenge rewards the pro-athletes racing the series and results in having the best professionals racing head-to-head in the Challenge races. “We strongly believe that the professional Athletes are the ambassadors of our wonderful sport. We have seen strong racing and amazing winners in the European Ranking the last two years. We are happy to extend this to a worldwide ranking first time in 2018 ” says Zibi Szlufcik, CEO of Challenge.

The first races to be added to the ranking in the 2018 season are Challenge Taiwan, Challenge Sangil (Mexico), Challenge Aasia-Pacific Championship (Taiwan) and Challenge Daytona (USA). All European races remain part of the ranking.

The total prize purse $165.000 for the worldwide ranking will pay 5 deep for both male and female athletes. The overall winners will take home $30.000. Second place will earn $20.000, third and fourth place $15.000 and $12.000 consecutively and fifth place winner will pocket $5.000. In the event of a tie, the prize money will be averaged between the two athletes and corresponding places.

The points system that leads to the final ranking will remain the same as last year’s European ranking. This is based on points earned by the athlete’s six best Challenge race results of the season, of which no more than two can be long distance races, which earn double points. The Championship is also included in the World Ranking, with more points to collect then regular middle distance races.

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Laura Siddall Looks To Go Back To Back at Ironman Australia

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The 2018 season has kicked off with a bang for Laura Siddall breaking through to pick up the Ironman New Zealand title in March, and she is looking to continue her winning form when she heads to Port Macquarie (6 May) to defend her Ironman Australia crown.

Siddall, who represented England as a junior in 400m hurdles and netball, began her love affair with triathlon while she was working in Australia on a two-year contract with Shell Oil and she was soon on a rampage loading her trophy case full of age-group championships across the globe over all distances.

Siddall eventually made the leap the pro ranks and continued her love affair with Port Macquarie that started with her first half distance triathlon at Ironman 70.3 Port Macquarie back in October 2009.

“Ironman Australia will be my last race in the Southern Hemisphere before I migrate north for the European summer. It is an important race for me, as I won last year, so want to come back and show my support for the event and the people of Port Macquarie.”

“It is also important to me because the race has so much history and was very much part of my early days in the sport. It is pretty much a local race where I started triathlon, so many friends will be participating and competing as well, over both the full and 70.3 distances.”

“While Ironman Australia may be an early season race for many, it will be my fourth race of 2018 and second Ironman, having won Ironman New Zealand in March. Expectations as always to continue the build in my training and race performance globally as an athlete.”

“Ironman Australia is very much part of that development and learning. It’s always about transferring the training into the race and executing a performance that I can be proud of and pushes myself to the limits. If I focus on that, then hopefully I am somewhere in the right place at the end of the day.”

“Ironman Australia is one of the historic races around the world. It truly comes alive with the amazing support in Port Macquarie. The course is tough and gritty but has wonderful crowd encouragement.  With the likes of Matthew Flinders Hill on the bike, the tri club alley on the run, it really does make the races pretty special and a brilliant atmosphere,” Laura said.

This year is the 40th anniversary year of the birth of Ironman and Laura is thankful for the huge influence the sport has been on her life as an athlete.

“It is awesome to see the sport grow over the past few years, not just the 40 years. If I think back to when I was growing up in the UK, I didn’t have a clue about triathlon. It was only when I was in Australia, where the sport was, at that time so much bigger, that I discovered it. But now, almost 10years later, I see how big the sport is in the UK, thanks to the likes of Chrissie Wellington but also the Brownlee brothers.”

“In the early years of my time in the sport, my friends and family wouldn’t have heard of triathlon, yet now I have all sorts of people contacting me saying they’ve signed up for a race or event and are training for a triathlon. It’s fantastic.”

“I started the sport as a complete beginner, and I’m now a professional and grateful for the opportunity to follow something I love, and to live my passion day to day. I travel the world training and racing and I know I’m incredibly privileged to do this. It is a lifestyle and has a wonderful community. I’ve met so many amazing people around the world, and heard so many incredible stories. It has given me some fantastic experiences and ‘pinch myself’ moments that I could never have believed or dreamed of,” she said.

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Australia Takes Gold in Commonwealth Games Mixed Relay Triathlon, Gentle Celebrates Big Comeback

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The Australian mixed relay team win gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. Photo: Triathlon Australia/Delly Carr

The Australian team won on its own turf in Saturday’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games mixed team relay triathlon. The team included Ashleigh Gentle, Matthew Hauser, Jake Birtwhistle, and Gillian Backhouse. Birtwhistle secured the victory in 01:17:36, 52 seconds ahead of England’s team and 01:52 ahead of the bronze winners of New Zealand.

For Birtwhistle, the mixed relay marked a Commonwealth Games podium streak after he nearly closed a wide gap behind South Africa’s Henri Schoeman, in the run leg of Thursday’s men’s triathlon, and won a silver. For Gentle, it was a major comeback story after she missed the Thursday podium by two positions.

Ashleigh Gentle Excels in Relay

Gentle, the third member on the course, made up for a 15-second deficit in the 250m swim leg by handing Birtwhistle a 39-second lead during the 1.5km run, easing his sprint to victory.

Gentle didn’t have it easy. She struggled with Thursday’s silver winner, Jessica Learmonth of Britain, during the entire 7km bike leg, which they completed together. Learmonth had a slight mishap while dismounting her bike, giving Gentle an opportunity to sprint ahead of her in the run before handing the final run stretch to her teammate.

A Tough Week for the Brownlee Brothers

Birtwhistle commanded a solid, and growing lead, over two-time Olympic champion, Alistair Brownlee of England. Brownlee had a rough week after realizing he did not give a prior calf injury enough time to recover. His brother, Jonny, was also recovering from a leg injury.

Who Australia was Up Against

England had a truly all-star team. Other than the Brownlee brothers and Learmonth, the team also included Vicky Holland. In the individual triathlon race, Learmonth and Holland claimed silver and bronze behind Bermuda’s Flora Duffy, who finished in 00:56:50, 43 seconds ahead of Learmonth.

The New Zealand quartet had Tayler Reid, Nicole van der Kaay, Andrew Hewitt, and Ryan Sissons. Sissons, a last minute replacement for Tony Dodds, claimed fifth in the individual triathlon. Dodds finished in 16th. Pundits had high expectations for Hewitt this year, but she finished 13thin the individual race.

 

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XTERRA New Zealand returns to Rotorua for 16th year this Saturday

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Sam Osborne and Jacqui Allen are back to defend their elite titles at the 16th annual XTERRA New Zealand Championship race at Lake Tikitapu in Rotorua on Saturday.

For Osborne, a Rotorua native and the reigning XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour Champion, it marks the start of another ambitious season of XTERRA racing.

“I’m feeling good & ready,” said Osborne, who won five majors and finished second in the European Tour rankings last year.  “I’ve had a very consistent block of training with no interruptions, and that can only be a good thing.”

Osborne will need to come out of the gates sharp if he is to defend the hometown crown in front of a raucous crowd sure to be filled with his family and friends. The field is stacked with Kiwi greats and Aussie star Ben Allen who has 18 career wins of his own, including two in Rotorua (2012 and 2013).

“Yeah, I’ve seen Benny’s made the trip over earlier than normal, so he’s clearly giving the race and the course a great deal of respect,” said Osborne.  “There’s plenty of big mountain bikers in the field to be concerned about as well. We’re racing at one of the best bike parks in the world and with the swim only being 1km here, it puts a lot of those guys right in the mix. Watch out for Hayden (Wilde) too.  He is coming off a decent racing block with ITU, so you know he’ll be sharp, and he’s not someone you take lightly on the start list.”

Of note, the bike course has seen some significant changes this year, and the new arena is a good one says Osborne.

“The new course is great.  Organizer Frank Clarke has done a good job to get it to flow so well. Rotorua is like a playground of trails so to have a course that links up some of the best cross-country trails we have means it’ll be one of the best bike courses in the world. The talk around the course is its a bit flatter than before but there is a lot of power climbing on loose gravel in there which is incredibly leg sapping. And re-introducing Split Enz was a great move, it’s a trail that has got a lot of free speed if you invest in working the bike down it.  It’s pretty physical to ride it fast but that’s the sort of stuff the mountain bikers can strut their stuff on.”

Wilde, a two-time 15-19 division XTERRA World Champion, finished three minutes behind Osborne in second-place last year and says he’s excited to ditch the road for the dirt this weekend.

“Can’t wait to get back on the trails where it all started and compete at XTERRA again,” said Wilde. “For me, this will be my only XTERRA this year as from May to August I’ll be in Europe racing WTS and World Cups to get as much experience and racing in as possible. I am finding the road stuff fast and exciting, but I miss XTERRA.  Nothing compares to the off-road XTERRA feel and that’s where my triathlon career started so I just love it and can’t wait to race this weekend.”

Keep an eye out for Wilde, as his goal is the 2020 games and the pursuit of the Olympic dream, “but a return to Maui someday is in the cards for sure, I love that place,” he said.

The seemingly endless string of super strong Kiwi XTERRA racers carries on with the likes of Lewis Ryan, the youngest of the Rotorua crew at just 19-years of age.  Ryan won the overall XTERRA Pan Am Championship amateur title two years ago and will make his elite debut on Saturday.

“Lining up with the big boys from here on out,” said the ever-cheerful Ryan.  “Definitely an awesome opportunity and something I’m super stoked to commit too. Making it even more special is that I’m able to pin on my first pro number at home here in Rotorua, so my excitement levels are peaking!”

Ryan said he grew up watching the “old guard” XTERRA pros and feels honoured to toe the line with the legends.

“I’ve been pre-riding the course the last couple days with Ben and Jacqui Allen and it’s brought back a whole load of memories,” he explained. “I grew up watching Ben have some epic battles here and as a kid who knew nothing about triathlon and was just at XTERRA Rotorua to support my Dad, these guys like Ben made the sport look so attractive.  It’ll be special to line up beside one of the good guys of the sport who I’ve idolized since day one.”

As for who he thinks the favourites should be, Ryan says “it’s Sam, Hayden, Ben and Olly Shaw. Olly (also from Rotorua) is always a player here, and they’re all phenomenal athletes.  In terms of the actual race, everyone knows it’s going to be a fast swim. Ben and Sam have proven themselves as some of the best fish in the sea. Going out onto the new bike course, the race dynamic will be a little bit different to previous years and I think it’ll make for an exciting showdown. There’s going to be plenty of opportunities to put moves in over different sections of the course. There’s no obvious make or break sector so I think we’re just going to have to wait and see what happens. For myself, I’ve got certain sections of trail that seem to have a nice flow about them which should make for some good fun come Saturday. My actual goals are completely different to previous races, as I’m really going into it totally relaxed. It’ll be my first time lining up as a pro, so I just want to enjoy the moment and embrace the atmosphere.”

Other elite men on the line include XTERRA veteran Alex Roberts from Taupo and Rodney Bell from Australia.

In the women’s race, Jacqui Slack from Great Britain will be gunning for her third Rotorua crown (she also won in 2012).

“It’s awesome to be back here in Rotorua,” said Slack, who also won XTERRA Tahiti and finished 2nd on the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour last year.  “The weather is being kind and the trails are dry and fast. I’m feeling great and training has been going well so I’m ready to kick off the Asia-Pacific Tour. As always, there will be some solid competition from the Kiwi ladies making sure it’s a close race along with our Aussie lass Penny Slater.”

Of note amongst those Kiwi, ladies is Hannah Wells, who was second to Slack here last year, and Kristy Jennings, the reigning 35-39 XTERRA World Champion who will be making her debut in the elite field on Saturday should injuries she suffered in a bike crash last week subside.

“I’m going to ride the mountain bike course to see how I feel and will make the call then,” said Jennings, who also has XTERRA Danao, Tahiti, and Albay on her docket this season.  “It’s a 50/50 chance of racing right now which is super disappointing, but we’ll see.”

Other female elites on the line include Aussie Leela Hancox, who finished fourth at the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship race in Malaysia last year, and Laura Mira from Brazil, who was fourth in the XTERRA Pan Am Pro Series last season.

XTERRA New Zealand is the first of four races on the 2018 XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour, which heads to the Philippines for the one-day Asia-Pacific Championship race in Danao on April 22, follows with XTERRA Tahiti in Moorea on May 11, and wraps up in Albay (Philippines) on June 17.

XTERRA NEW ZEALAND ALL-TIME ELITE WINNERS
Year Men Women
2003 Sam Mallard Evelyn Willamson
2004 Hamish Carter Sonia Foote
2005 Hamish Carter Sonia Foote
2006 Hamish Carter Gina Ferguson
2007 Tim Wilding Gina Ferguson
2008 Terenzo Bozzone Sonia Foote
2009 Richard Ussher Nicola Leary
2010 Scott Thorne Nicola Leary
2011 Richard Ussher Karen Hanlen
2012 Ben Allen Jacqui Slack
2013 Ben Allen Renata Bucher
2014 Conrad Stoltz Barbara Riveros
2015 Braden Currie Suzie Snyder
2016 Braden Currie Lizzie Orchard
2017 Sam Osborne Jacquie Allen

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Ironman Foundation and Challenged Athletes Foundation Team Up for Junior Seau Adaptive Surf Clinic in Oceanside

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The Ironman Foundation will hold its second service project of the 2018 season with an adaptive surf clinic that will include specialized sessions for youth, women and military/adults with physical challenges as part of the Junior Seau Foundation Adaptive Youth Surf Program presented by Challenged Athletes Foundation, taking place on Sunday, April 8, 2018. In addition, the Ironman Foundation will distribute over $33,000 in charitable giveback to non-profit initiatives and groups in the greater Oceanside, California community in conjunction with the 2018 Ironman70.3Oceanside triathlon taking place on Saturday, April 7.

The clinic will host three specialized sessions that will total up to 30 kids, women and military/adults with physical challenges who will spend the morning learning to paddle and surf at Oceanside Pier with the assistance of volunteers including professional and age-group triathletes and coaches. The Junior Seau Foundation Adaptive Surf Program presented by Challenge Athletes Foundation provides the opportunity for participants with physical challenges to learn how to surf, improve their skills and ultimately share in a lifestyle sport that so many in Southern California enjoy, while celebrating the legacy of Junior Seau, the former San Diego Chargers linebacker who lived in Oceanside and surfed regularly.

“We are very grateful to the Junior Seau Foundation, the Ironman Foundation and all the athletes who will come out to help advance our program to teach and develop the next wave of challenged athletes in Adaptive Surfing,” said Virginia Tinley, CAF Executive Director. “This clinic offers everyone that participates in a truly special and life-changing opportunity to make an impact in this community. We are excited to see some of these attendees catch their first waves and stand on their surfboards for the first time.”

The Ironman Foundation Community Fund provides community and volunteer grant opportunities to non-profit organizations where North American Ironman events are held. In 2018, the Ironman Foundation will distribute more than $1.7 million in grant funding to support the needs of Ironman race communities across North America, including a grant program to support organizations with a volunteerism component.

“We are honoured to support so many outstanding local community organizations and for our ongoing partnership with Challenged Athletes Foundation,” said Sarah Hartmann, Acting Executive Director of the Ironman Foundation. “The adaptive surf clinic is an extraordinary opportunity for our athletes to connect with CAF heroes and create a lasting and tangible impact in Oceanside.”

To register for the Ironman Foundation 2018 Junior Seau Foundation Adaptive Surf Clinic presented by Challenged Athletes Foundation as a participant, surf coach or volunteer, please visit www.ironmanfoundation.org/oceanside.

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