Following thirty years of history in the Okanagan Valley of Southern British Columbia, Penticton was forced to say goodbye to Ironman Canada. This weekend Ironman Canada will instead be held in a new location, with the debut of Ironman Whistler. A brand new course, and a new community which will hopefully embrace the Ironman community as they have the sports of mountain biking and winter snow sports. The race starts with a two mass start swim in the waters of Alta Lake, with water temperatures more than likely seeing a wetsuit swim. Much like the old (Penticton) course, athletes will ride one loop on the bike and will be challenged with over 4,000 feet of climbing. The race will finish with a two loop run, which is far from flat, with a total of 700 feet in elevation gain.
This weekend is the final chance for the pro women to gain valuable Kona points to push them up the ladder, with the final seven spots to be announced at the end of the weekend. Whilst most of the final changes were decided last weekend at Ironman Mont-Tremblant (Rebekah Keat and Liz Blatchford of Australia, Anja Beranek of Holland, Sarah Piampiano and Jennie Hansen of the USA
Beth Walsh (USA) sits highest on the Kona Points Ranking out of this start list, and would stand the best chance at a Kona spot should she win this weekend. This would have to be a big motivator for the American, although despite this it appears she won’t be racing, instead lining up for early season points (for the 2014 KPR) at Ironman Arizona later this year.
Uli Bromme (USA) has been on the improve over the past couple of seasons, and was a regular at Ironman Canada in Penticton.
Bromme would have to be race favourite going on recent results and experience, with a third place finish at both Ironman Coeur d’Alene and Ironman 70.3 Boise this season.
Bromme will be chasing the 2,000 point victory for her final chance to qualify for Kona, with some rough calculations revealing she may have a sniff of a chance, although it will be touch and go. Bromme typically starts the bike with a fair defecit to the stronger swimmers in the field, although finishes with a strong run so don’t write her off too early.
Christine Anderson (USA) will most likely lead this field out of the water with a sizable margin in her favour. With a fifth place finish recently at Ironman Texas, and sixth at Ironman 70.3 Boulder (just two places behind Bromme) Anderson will likely be looking towards the podium in Whistler this weekend. Anderson’s run is her weakest discipline and she will have to be on the move to stay clear of Bromme.
Lisa Ribes, also of the USA, is another woman on the rise with some consistent racing under her belt. Ribes finished third at Ironman Los Cabos and fourth at Ironman France this season, and is another athlete with the ability to run a fast marathon.
Canadian Gillian Moody is a name to watch, with the obvious lure of a national title on offer. Gillian is a former ITU short course triathlete, and in 2006 raced professionally as a road cyclist for several years. Moody finished fourth at Ironman Canada in 2010, is a tough athlete who knows how to hurt, and is our pick as the dark horse this weekend.
Also from Canadia we will see Sarah Baker, Christine Fletcher, Martina Wan and Julie van Veelan on the start line, racing at their National Ironman Championship.
Keiko Tanaka from Japan and Oleysa Prystayko of the Ukraine will also be battling it out with the American’s and Canadian’s for a podium position.
Pro Women’s start list:
|van Veelan, Julie||CAN|
* Beth Walsh (USA) appears not to be racing