Tomorrow, thousands of athletes will embark on the Sunsmart Ironman Western Australia event, the year’s last full distance Ironman race. Here are our predictions and some last-minute words from the pros.
Sunday’s conditions in Busselton
Tomorrow, the greats will descend on the beautiful coastal town of Busselton for the gruelling Ironman Western Australia race. Luckily, it looks like mild weather for Sunday: just 24 degrees with no wind in sight. The ocean temperature off the infamous two kilometre Busselton jetty is 20 degrees and the water is crystal clear. The organisers and pros are saying it’s ideal conditions for a fast race. “The winds aren’t predicted to be strong, so it’s definitely a course where I can get under nine hours,” said defending champion Sarah Piampiano yesterday at the live Q&A with the pros.
Sarah Piampiano returns to defend title
Sarah is eager to defend her title, but it’s not her key focus.
“I really admire the tough field this year, and I know I’m going to have to work for whatever place I end up in,” she said. “I definitely want to defend, but I’m really focused on the process of the day.”
Aussie Mel Hauschildt eager to win after disappointing Kona
Sarah is predicted to finish second behind Aussie Melissa Hauschildt, who will be attacking Busselton with a vengeance.
“Kona didn’t go to plan for me,” noted Mel. “I wanted to get another race in before the end of the year. I always love racing in Australia and I don’t get to do it that often.”
Mel’s husband doubles as her coach, and they’re a powerful team. “We never really talk about triathlon out of training. It works really well,” Mel said, adding that she was thrilled to be in the beautiful beachside town.
This year’s women’s race is exceptionally notable. It’s the first time in Ironman history the women are seeded first, adding even more excitement to a huge race.
IRONMAN Western Australia Men’s predictions
Tomorrow, American Andy Potts is tipped to win despite it being his first time racing triathlon in Australia. He’s joined by a fierce field of pros, including Denis Chevrot, Jeff Symonds, Terenzo Bozzone and Clayton Fettell.
Chevrot’s past victory could be key
Frenchman Denis Chevrot is tipped to finish third on the podium and he’s thrilled to be back in Busselton. “This race is very special for me. It was the place of my first IRONMAN win, so I’m always happy to be back here,” he said yesterday. Thanks to his prior victory at this beautiful beachside course, Denis is feeling confident.
“I know the race and I’ve won here, so I’m ready for tomorrow,” Chevrot said.
Kona performance could drive Bozzone
Kiwi Terenzo Bozzone is thrilled to race for the first time at Ironman Western Australia. “I love it that everyone is down here,” he said. In New Zealand you get 15 minutes into a race and it starts raining, so it’s great there is reliable weather here and smooth, flat road.”
After a DNF at Kona, the Kiwi is eager to finish the gruelling course tomorrow in a good position. He’s tipped to place sixth but with his determination to improve on his Kona performance, he could just make the podium.
“You have highs and lows, and when you have disappointing races like at Kona, it really hits you,” he added. But it also gives you the drive to get it right, which is why I’ll be on the start line tomorrow.”
With his young family, Terenzo has been multitasking. “When my kid goes down for a nap, I go down for a nap!”
Jeff Symonds gearing up for a tough race
Charismatic Canadian Jeff Symonds knows he’s an outsider running in an Australian race with a heavy local field, but he admits he’s used to it. “I’m happy to be the bad guy racing against all the Australians in Australia,” Jeff said yesterday. Known as the friendly Canadian, Symonds grew up in Penticton, a Canadian town obsessed with Ironman. “It was hard to watch Ironman and not do it, so I got into it,” he told the crowd at yesterday’s Q&A.
While he’s tipped to finish fourth and has had an incredible year, Jeff remains humble.
“It’s all about getting to that finish line,” said Symonds. “The uglier it gets, the more adversity you push through and the more memorable and awesome it’s going to be.”
Jeff is also the first one to admit it’s going to be a tough race tomorrow, saying “you really have to check your ego at the door.” He added: “if the girls are passing you, just let them go.”
For all the age-groupers out there, the Ironman hosts have one piece of advice. “If it’s your first Ironman, think of it as just another training day with 2000 new friends.”
Trizone wishes all the pros and age-groupers the best of luck for the race tomorrow.