As the season heads towards Christmas we start to see the pro fields get smaller. But this doesn’t mean they are easier. We take a look at this weekend’s professional field at Ironman 70.3 Western Sydney.
Last years champion is racing and should be in good form. David Mainwaring is one of the best natural runners in the game but he will have his work cut out with the recent Shepp winner Dan Wilson toeing the line. In addition last years Ballarat 70.3 champion is also racing. Matthew Pellow was primed to race Shepp but had to pull out. He should be a coiled spring this weekend, if he wasn’t focused on Ironman Western Australia the following weekend. His big challenge will be racing at just the right intensity to leave enough in the tank to perform well over the full Ironman distance seven days later.
I spoke to Mainy as he drove to Penrith on Friday night and he said he is looking forward to a holiday after what has been a tough and emotional year for him and his family. Next week he heads over to Busso to watch a some friends and family race the Ironman before jetting off to meet his better half Holly in Dubai. They then head to Italy for a well deserved holiday together. Holly has been based in Afghanistan for the last few months and after recently being promoted to a Major in the army she will be busting to see Mainy and show off her new stripes. Hopefully their friends and family (us included) will hear some exciting news in the next few weeks.
Ryan Fisher also brings another level to the field and will be one of the favourites. The 2016 Rio Olympian should be yet another top ITU triathlete who will make a successful transition to the longer distance. We know he can swim and run as fast as any so it will just remain to be seen if a solid 90km bike ride will take a toll on the run. ITU triathletes put in as many if not more training miles than the 70.3 pros so there is definitely no doubt Fisher will be ready to take on this weekend’s 70.3. For Fisher it is uncharted territory and he will certainly have a good range finder race on Sunday.
If Todd Skipworth is racing he to will be another hard to beat athlete. One less experienced but extremely talented long course athlete is James Davy (Strutta to his mates). Davy will be amongst the lead swimmers and if he has put the miles in on the bike has the potential to run 1:13-1:15 on a good day. After coming through the ITU junior ranks Davy has spent the last few years completing two degrees at University and is now finding some of his old form and potential. Good mates with Pellow, Mainwaring and Aaron Royle amongst many he will be a force over the 70.3 distance in the future.
Adam Gordon is coming down from the Gold Coast to turn his arm over yet again in 2016. ‘Adsy’ has had a big year with four Ironmans and numerous 70.3 races plus a baby and the rigors of work. Add to that his squad and he must be burning the candle at both ends. You can find Gordon turning people in to runners (amongst other things) on any Wednesday night on the road up to SeaWorld.
In the women’s race we are yet to see if last year’s female champion and former ITU world champion Annabel Luxford will start after missing the Shepparton start line the other weekend. If Luxford does start then on paper she will be the athlete to beat on Sunday. There is too much experience and talent to think otherwise.
With Luxford out last last start it was assumed that Ellie Salthouse would run away with the win. Andrea Forrest had other ideas and the Western Sydney local came in to take a very solid second overall. This weekend Forrest will be hoping she can go one better in front of a home town crowd.
Between Forrest and the top of the podium will be another (almost) local Natalie Van Coevorden. One of Australia’s best ITU triathletes, Van Coevorden loves the non drafting long course racing. This is her chance to get on to the TT and let loose. With a killer swim and the run to back it up look to see Natalie at the pointy end all day.
Canadian Melanie McQuaid will be hoping to upset the locals. The four time Offroad triathlon world champion, six time IM 70.3 winner and multi talented human being has been coming back from a serious leg injury (check out the photo below of the metalwork in Melanie’s leg). McQuaid is still not quite where she wants to be but is well on the way to being back at her best. IM 70.3 Taupo in New Zealand is the focus and when Melanie wants to be producing top run speed by.
McQuaid is an overachiever in so many aspects of her life. With a degree in chemistry and biochemistry, a career racing road and offroad triathlon she is one impressive human being. Add to that her coaching and many other aspects of a full life and you have someone that you can never not back to win.
Melanie is enjoying the hospitality of the Dukes out in Western Sydney and is loving the Riff. She is even thinking about coming back for a block before IMNZ early next year.