The 2011 Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 Phillippines to be held at Camarines Sur Water Park, has again drawn a star studded professional field for this Sunday’s race which is the third time the event has been held.
Leading the men’s field are top male professional triathletes including defending champion Pete Jacobs, fellow Australians Luke Gilmer, Justin Granger, and New Zealand’s Cameron Brown. The female professionals include Amanda Stevens, Belinda Granger, Katya Meyers and Bree Wee.
Pete Jacobs is returning to the Phillippines in an attempt to claim back-to-back titles. Jacobs won the event last year ahead of the inaugural winner of Terenzo Bozone. This race is close to Pete’s favourite and he has been pumped about coming back.
Jacobs is one of the world’s best Ironman swimmers and set to use this to his advantage in the two lap swim course. He has the ability to swim away from the pack. In Kona in 2010, Jacobs clocked the fastest run split of the day and third fastest of all time and his dominating win at this year’s Ironman Australia makes him an even more formidable competitor. At this years Ironman Australia Pete had put almost a minute on the pack by the quarter mark of the swim. He then held on to the lead for the entire race. Even with a foot injury, which turned out to be a stress fracture, slowing him down he still managed to stay ahead to win. This injury put Jacobs out of running for around 6 weeks. This break gave him more time to focus on his swim. It will be interesting to see how this looks on Sunday. Jacob’s wife Jaimielle will also be taking the start line in the age group race on Sunday to race in her third half ironman distance triathlon.
Brown is the most consistent athlete to compete in the Cobra Ironman. He is a ten-time winner of the New Zealand Ironman (2001– 2005, 2007– 2011) held in Taupo, New Zealand. He will be looking to grab his first Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 crown to add to his collection of titles. Brown arrived in Manila yesterday suggesting that he may not quite be ready to race after suffering from a bit of sickness over the last week. In june this year Cameron was entered to race Challenge Cairns but had to pull out due to a calf injury. He went on to win Ironman Korea 70.3 convincingly at the beginning of July ahead of fellow Kiwis Guy Crawford and Keiran Doe. In Germany for the European Ironman championship and Brown started well but had an out of the blue poor bike leg. He then punctured to make things worse. Once off the bike he ran a solid 2:51 to get himself back in to 7th place overall.
Justin Granger recently raced in the Cairns Half with a very solid 1:25 run to be one of the quicker runners on the day. Luke Gillmer turned pro this year with his first race at Port Maquarie in May. He has gained valuable experience and it will be good to see how he has progressed.
The women professionals are equally talented and multi-titled. With Australia’s Belinda Granger is an 11-time Ironman and Ironman 70.3 distance champion and is considered one of the sport’s premier cyclists. She joins the Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 with husband and training partner Justin. Belinda won Challenge Wanaka in January this year and was fith last month at Challenge Roth. In June Belinda was fifth also at Challenge Cairns. One of the amazing things about the race was Belinda’s amazing recovery after loosing her grip and hitting a bump on the bike. It was real ‘heart in your mouth’ stuff. Even more amazing was the description by Belinda to the camerman on the motorbike straight after.
Hawaii’s Bree Wee has had some good results over the last year with a 4th recently at Rev3 Portland, a 2nd behind Belinda Granger at last year Rhoto 70.3 in Hawaii, 3rd at Ironman Louisville 2010 and other top finishes.
Amanda Stevens has had a solid year of racing so far with a fifth at Ironman South Africa in April and a fifth at the Eagleman 70.3 in June. Amanda should battle with Bree for the swim honours.
Whilst Amanda Balding and Luke McKenzie were set take on Phillippines Ironman 70.3, they are to remain in the United States to meet visa requirements for their continued stay in the US. Last year’s women’s second placer Michelie Jones is injured and also won’t be taking to the start line.
Despite the late withdrawals, both the men and women fields are set to be hotly contested.