Preview: Ironman North American Championship

It’s just two days until the North American Championships, and here are out top picks for the podium.

With 75 Kona slots and coutnless Kona points up for grabs, plus a huge prize purse of $150,000, Ironman Texas 2017, the North American Championships, are going to be an exciting event this weekend.

Ironman Texas Swim

The rolling start at North Shore park is the beginning of a very clear and straight forward swim course, but don’t rely on water clarity. Wet suits were optional last year, but ensure you pack yours just in case.

“The water was murky and was difficult to draft,” said Matthew Russell, who placed second last year.

Ironman Texas Bike

The bike course isn’t known for its hills and troughs, so you won’t have to struggle with huge elevation. The two-loop course makes its way from The Woodlands to Northern Harris County along roads mostly closed to traffic.

Strava distace: 179.8km
Elevation: 1,052m

Ironman Texas Run

This three-loop run course takes place next to the water in The Woodlands, creating a picturesque venue for this long course event.

The weather can be warm, so be prepared for needing enhanced hydration. Matthew Russell said, “on the last lap I was feeling the heat and was getting more and more dehydrated but pressed on…With those brutal conditions, there were a number of athletes who struggled.”

Strava distance: 41.5km
Elevation: 107m

Ironman Texas Course Rating: 11:51


Who’s tipped to win

2015 winner American Matt Hanson, Matthew Russell and Great Britain’s Joe Skipper are tipped to take out the top spots. The two top ranking men have home advantage, plus Matthew Russell placed second last year and will be hungry for the win.

  • Matt Hanson: 17% (5-1)
  • Matthew Russell: 15% (6-1)
  • Joe Skipper: 14% (6-1)
  • Ronnie Schildknecht: 12% (8-1)
  • Bas Diederen: 10% (9-1)
  • Will Clarke: 9% (10-1)
  • Jordan Rapp: 8% (12-1)

On the women’s side, Jocelyn McCauley who won both Ironman Mallorca and IM New Zealand in 2017 is tipped to win. Fellow American Kelly Williamson is tipped may take out third place, while Belgian Tine Deckers is tipped to come in second. Haley Chura, who made a huge comeback this year after a terrifying road accident won’t be racing, but her odds were high until she pulled out of the championship.

  • Jocelyn McCauley: 41% (1-1)
  • Tine Deckers: 17% (5-1)
  • Kelly Williamson: 15% (6-1)
  • Michaela Herlbauer: 8% (11-1)
  • Malindi Elmore: 2% (40-1)
  • Lauren Brandon: 2% (49-1)

Who won last year?

The bike leg at last year’s event was shortened as there were issues with bad weather and limitations to getting permits for the event, so last year’s winners’ times aren’t relevant to the record. However, Patrick Lange, the German who came third at Kona last year, placed first at he North American Championships, with American Matthew Russell and Kiwi Terenzo Bozzone finishing in second and third. German woman Julia Gajer placed first, with Americans Jodie Robertson and Lisa Roberts placing second and third.

Who holds the records?

2016’s altered bike course means the results aren’t eligible for course records, however the prior years’ were. Matt Hanson, who is also tipped to win this year, set the course record in 2015 finishing in 08:07:03, along with the fastest run split in 2014 of 02:41:38. Joe Skipper, who’s been tipped to take out one of the top spots, set the bike record in 2015 with a split of 04:10:07.

The course record in the women’s field is still dominated by Rachel Joyce from 2013 who finished in 08:49:14. Kelly Williamson, one of the top women in the field this year, set the swim record of 51:49 in 2014, which if she can reproduce this year, will put her in great stead for a podium finish. The women’s bike record was set by Corinne Abraham in 2015, and the run by Caitlin Snow in 2012.

Extra info about the North American Championships 2017

Late additions and withdrawals

Highly ranked triathletes Kyle Buckingham and Haley Chura withdrew from the race on April 13th. Kyrill Kotshegarov was added to the startlist last week.

Tons of Kona points up for grabs

This event offers 75 Kona qualification slots, more than any other race in North America, so it’s a great race to get prepared for the year of ironman ahead.


– Data sourced with permission from

Shawn Smith

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.

  • Mikael Staer

    Flying under the radar is Maja Stage Nielsen of Denmark. #2 at Ironman Mallorca 2016 in her full distance debut.

    • She’s certainly on the rise and one to watch. With less IM’s in the body I’m just not sure how she will find it.

      • Mikael Staer

        Like I said 😉