From Maternity Ward to Start Line: Steve McKenna's Ironman Australia Title Defence

Defending champion Steve McKenna rushes from the birth of his second child to compete in a highly anticipated battle against rivals Tim Van Berkel and Sam Appleton at the 37th Ironman Australia.

From Maternity Ward to Start Line: Steve McKenna's Ironman Australia Title Defence

The 37th edition of Ironman Australia is set to take place on Sunday in Port Macquarie, with defending champion Steve McKenna making a last-minute dash from a maternity ward in Adelaide to the start line.

The most compelling storyline heading into the race is Steve McKenna's attempt to defend his title just days after the birth of his second daughter. The 32-year-old's win in Port Macquarie last year was his first Ironman victory and he'll be looking to make it back-to-back titles. Another storyline to watch is the anticipated battle between McKenna, Tim Van Berkel and Sam Appleton, who swapped the lead on numerous occasions during last year's run.

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Pre-Race Landscape

Contenders and Favorites

Steve McKenna, Tim Van Berkel and Sam Appleton are the top contenders and pre-race favourites. McKenna is the defending champion, while Van Berkel has a strong track record in Port Macquarie, including a second-place finish in 2023 and a win the year before. Appleton, a US-based Aussie, has been training well and feels he's in better shape than last year.

Dark Horses and Underdogs

Other athletes to watch include former Ironman New Zealand champion Mike Phillips, professional cyclist turned triathlete Ben Hill, Finland's Henrik Goesch, and Kiwi Matt Kerr.

Course and Conditions

The Ironman Australia course consists of a 3.8km swim, 180km ride, and 42.2km run. The weather conditions for race day look to be wet and windy which will certainly play a role.

Potential Race Dynamics

The swim segment is expected to be competitive, with positioning heading into the bike likely to be crucial. On the bike course, the formation of groups, key climbs or descents and the likelihood of solo breakaways or collaborative efforts will be factors to watch. The run will see the decisive moves made given the weather.

Athletes to Watch

Steve McKenna, Tim Van Berkel, and Sam Appleton are the key athletes to watch, with their strengths and weaknesses likely to play out against each other in head-to-head battles. Mike Phillips, Ben Hill, Henrik Goesch, and Matt Kerr are also expected to be in the mix.

Predictions and Expectations

While predicting the podium is always a challenge, it's expected that Steve McKenna, Tim Van Berkel, and Sam Appleton will be in contention for the top spots. If none of these guys get a mechanical on the bike leg, I'm going for a 1-2-3 with the mayor of Port, Tim Berkel to get the win.

IRONMAN Australia – Professional Men’s Start List 

  1. Steve McKenna - AUS
  2. Tim Van Berkel – AUS
  3. Sam Appleton – AUS
  4. Mike Phillips – NZL
  5. Ben Hill – AUS
  6. Henrik Goesch – FIN
  7. Matt Kerr – NZL
  8. Brett Clifford – NZL
  9. Scott Harpham – NZL
  10. Matt Lewis – AUS
  11. Nathan Miller – AUS
  12. Nathan Dortmann – AUS
  13. Kyle Tremayne - AUS