Ironman 70.3 World Championship, Las Vegas – Professional Women’s preview

This weekend we will witness the biggest race on the long course triathlon calendar outside of Kona. The Ironman 70.3 World Championship was previously somewhat of an anti-climax each year, having been held in Clearwater Florida and labelled a "draft fest". Times have changed and Vegas b

Ironman 70.3 World Championship, Las Vegas – Professional Women’s preview

This weekend we will witness the biggest race on the long course triathlon calendar outside of Kona. The Ironman 70.3 World Championship was previously somewhat of an anti-climax each year, having been held in Clearwater Florida and labelled a “draft fest”. Times have changed and Vegas breathed new life into the Championship event, attracting the best of the best in the 70.3 distance. Each year we’ve seen the strength of the professional women’s field grow, and 2013 is no different, with what looks to be the strongest and most impressive field yet.

Defending Champions

The start list is headlined by defending champion Leanda Cave (GBR) and 2011 champion Melissa Hauschildt (AUS). Cave hasn’t got much to show on paper this year, although this really comes as no surprise. Cave typically prepares her season around the races that count most, and knows how to perform when the pressure is on. She’ll be coming into this race as dual World Champion over the 70.3 and Ironman distance, but has enough experience under her belt and the composure to handle this. The question will not be of handling the pressure, but rather reaching a performance level high enough to out race Aussie Hauschildt. Undoubtedly favourite leading into the weekend, Hauschildt has returned with a vengeance after racing sub par in 2012. A running injury and illness the week leading into the race saw Hauschildt falter, failing to defend her title and finishing a distant fourth place. Still a good result, but a disappointing one for the Aussie. Know that she is here to win this year and we’re predicting a lightening fast run split as she will be in pursuit of the stronger swimmers in the field.


The biggest challengers on paper come from Olympians Emma Moffatt (AUS), Lisa Norden (SWE), Daniela Ryf (SUI), Laura Bennett (USA) and Svenja Bazlen (GER). Coming off her big win at Hy-Vee just last weekend Moffatt has the upper hand on Hauschildt, or does she? With an additional 50km of cycling (over a much more challenging course) and over double the run distance, this weekend is going to be a very different race. Each of these girls have experience success over the 70.3 distance, but this is the first time they will all line up beside each other and the best of the world’s 70.3 athletes.

Lisa Norden would be the strongest of this group in the non-drafting format, although will be competing with an injury which has been plaguing her all season. so her form could be a little questionable. Persistent plantar fasciitis has been the cause of a number of withdrawals from Norden, most recently from Hy-Vee last weekend. Plantar fasciitis is a dreaded injury and appears to have a high prevalence amongst triathletes, especially those racing long course. Norden has been attending to her foot all week with icing, massage and taping, with her and coach Craig Alexander hoping it is enough to settle it down and allow her to contend for the title.

Svenja Bazlen finished third at Hy-Vee last weekend and finished second at the Ironman 70.3 US Champs in St George earlier this year. Bazlen is strong across all three disciplines so this should bode well for the German on the tough course that Las Vegas presents.

Speaking of ITU stars, Annabel Luxford (AUS) World Cup Champion (2005) will be making her first appearance after a successful step up to long course racing this season. Luxford showed the triathlon world not only can she swim amongst some of the fastest professional males in the sport, but can also she can ride with the strongest female cyclists. Luxford out rode Caroline Steffen in Auckland 70.3 earlier this year, and we know this girl can run!

70.3 specialists

Impressed yet? Well wait there’s more! We now move onto our 70.3 specialists, with last years runner up Kelly Williamson (USA) leading the charge. Williamson is quite possibly the most likely in this field to challenge Hauschildt for fastest run of the day, and is also capable of swimming amongst the front pack on a good day. Fellow American Heather Jackson (USA) would be our next pick to challenge for fastest run, with the Wattie Ink. athlete having had an incredible start to the 2013 season. Jackson pocketed wins at Oceanside 70.3, Wildflower and Escape from Alcatraz before taking a mid season break, something perhaps more athletes might benefit from doing, and returned to finish second at the highly contested Vineman 70.3 the next week. A former hockey player, Jackson has showed what consistency, determination and belief can produce, having worked her way up the ranks each season. A fourth place finish in 2011, third in 2012, will Jackson step it up in 2013?

Canadian Angela Naeth is back and will be hoping to race with a better outcome than last year’s bike crash, a tumble which resulted in some pretty horrific gravel rash. Naeth showed true strength of character battling to the finish, covered in blood and a lot less skin than she had started the race with. An athlete who has faced many an injury hurdle throughout her career, this year Naeth has had victories at Racine, Buffalo Springs and Eagleman 70.3. Under the guidance of Mark Allen the Canadian appears to have found a good work/rest balance and so it will be great to see how she performs on Sunday.

The list goes on with 2012 fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth place finishers Joanna Lawn (NZL), Heather Wurtele (CAN), Magali Tisseyre (CAN) and Margaret Sharpiro (USA) all returning to race.

Lisa Huetthaler’s (AUT) presence should set the scene for an interesting social experiment, especially should she finish atop the podium (see “The apology of Lisa Huetthaler”).

The list goes on with uber biker Amy Marsh (USA), the ever improving Emma-kate Lidbury (GBR), Catriona Morrison (GBR) returning from an 18 month hiatus due to injury, and Australia’s Rebecca Hoschke racing her first ever World Championship as a professional.


Our favourite would have to be Melissa Hauschildt, with Annabel Luxford, Heather Jackson, Kelly Williamson and Leanda Cave rounding out the top five. We’ll throw the wild card out to Lisa Norden, with her performance very much dependent on her cantankerous foot. Fastest swim we’re calling Annabel Luxford, fastest bike Lisa Norden and fastest run to Melissa Hauschildt.

What we can guarantee is a hot as a hair dryer day, potentially some strong wind in the mix, and one heck of a good battle.

Professional Women’s start list

BIB #Last Name First Name CountryCategory