Both men’s and women’s fields are looking very strong for the premier event at this weekend’s Huskisson Long Course Triathlon Festival.
Current champion Tim Reed would have to go in to this weekend’s race as the slight favourite ahead of former multiple champion of this race Pete Jacobs based on current race form and match fitness. Jacobs comes in to the race without a recent form guide but as everyone knows if he is race ready he will be very hard to beat.
Reed is coming off a huge week of training. He is working towards Ironman and the recent racing in Auckland and Geelong has been interrupting this focus. We suspect that his coach may not have been that happy that he is racing again hence the big week of training.
Reed will have his work cut out as usual from the gun with Jacobs, Michael Fox, Sam Appleton and possibly Kieran Roche likely to form a lead pack in the swim. It remains to be seen whether Jacobs will attempt to clear out and take the race to the field or back himself to be able to hold them off in the run.
Former multiple champion Pete Jacobs is ‘cruising in to the year’ with out and early season niggles. “I have been approaching this year differently. I am taking care of niggle as they appear and not rushing in to races. Batemans Bay is the next race on the calendar but the rest of the season is still yet to be decided on’.
Pete Jacobs is pleased to see that Tim Reed is racing. ‘Tim will provide me with a benchmark that will very useful going forward. He is in great form and I will love racing him. I will need to make sure that there is as big a gap as possible between myself and him as his strong bike will bring him back in to the race’.
Jacobs loves coming to Husky and it is an easy race to decide to do with out having to commit months out. Once he was comfortable with where he was at with the training he made the decision to race. ‘Huskisson is always a good way to get the season going without to many pressures. This year I want to make sure that the races I do offer some good experiences and leave with me with good muscle and emotional memory. If I am not up to their level yet then that is alright. I want to win the races I do however. That side of the memory is a focus!’.
Jacobs loves this course because he can be out of sight and out of mind. ‘I love to ride it by himself and have always ridden well here’.
He is clear that he doesn’t want to race if not ready in 2014.
There will be some good running with David Mainwaring looking to make amends after his slower than expected run at the Auckland 70.3 recently. Mainwaring is still trying to get used to running off the bike. With a 1:08 at the in the Sydney Half Marathon he can run and is still a relative newcomer to the long distance. Mainwaring was second to Tim Reed at Challenge Forster and will be wanting to narrow the gap this weekend.
Sam Appleton was second overall last year behind Tim Reed with a 1:09 20km run. Appleton’s recent results show that he is building strongly and it is only a matter of time before he is ‘the one to beat’ at these bigger races. His competitors all have a close eye on him. Appleton held on to Jacobs well in to the bike at the Sunshine Coast 70.3 last year but Jacobs was in very good bike shape. He will be looking to stay with Jacobs on the bike this weekend.
Josh Rix finished with an 7th at Challenge Melbourne with a solid swim and bike but fell off the pace on the run. It is early days in 2014 for Rix and he Huskisson will be another hit out for him as he builds in to the year. Rix can perform at the top.
Michael Fox has been a big improver in the last few months with his bike jumping up a few gears. We saw the first evidence of that at Canberra last December when he rode with Appleton and James Hodge. He lost a few spots on the run but we saw a very different runner at Challenge Melbourne when Fox ran a very solid 1:17 to match John Polson and only be a minute off Tim Berkel who was running hard to beat Polson.
Not on the original start list is Paul Ambrose who comes in without a recent form guide over this distance. What we do know is that on his day the 2012 Ironman Australia champion would be pushing the favourites all the way or likely forcing them to catch him on the run. Ambrose is a front pack swimmer and strong cyclist and has plenty of prodiums and wins in big races to his name.
Todd Israel has been growing solidly since gaining his professional license. He is swimming and riding with the leading groups and his run is constantly jumping up to the next level. The former 800m runner in a prior life is shoing tonce again that sprinters can make good long distance runners.
Scott DeFilippis was 3rd at Ironman Florida in 2012 in that insanely fast race with a 8:09 and a 2:47 run in which Starykowicz rode an incredible 4:04 to eventually win the race.
Lindsay Wall was third at Challenge Forster behind Mainwaring and Reed. He has been riding well and we look forward to seeing how he performs at Husky. He has raced here many times and knows the course well.
The women’s field is stronger than recent years with defending champion Liz Blatchford the red hot favourite. Liz had an outstanding 2013 with a win at Huskisson, a win in her maiden Ironman at Cairns and finished it off with a 3rd at the World Ironman Championship in Kona to stamp her arrival on the long course scene.
Wanting to dethrone Liz will be Lisa Marangon, Michelle Wu and Carrie Lester. Both are strong over this distance when they are on their game. They will need to be to keep anywhere near the former ITU triathlete who is one of the strongest swimmers in the game. Marangon can swim well and will be looking to improve on the bike with some added strength that should aid her run.
Michelle Wu will be playing catchup with the stronger swimmers likely to put 1-2 minutes in to her and with the bike course suiting stronger riders Wu will need to play to her strength which is the run. A race fast run will be needed to get on to the podium on Sunday.
We are looking forward to seeing how Ange Castle has progressed since her race at Ironman Australia last year where she put in a great performance to get on to the podium.
Matilda Raynolds will be looking to find the ‘fun’ in racing again this weekend and get the love back for the sport. Under new coach Chris Hanrahan Raynolds is looking forward to having a great year. A recent change in career means that she will have more time to train and race in 2014.