Ironman Cairns is just over one week away, and the field is fierce. Tim Van Berkel is back to defend his title, while Sarah Piampiano may be on track to taking out the win for the women. Here’s a break down of the course, and some handy info to help you prepare for the race.
Ironman Cairns Swim
The swim is set in one of Australia’s most picturesque tropical beaches; Palm Cove, Cairns. The one lap, 3.8km course sees athletes swimming an anti-clockwise route through the surf. While the swim course is absolutely beautiful, it can also be incredibly choppy, and those who haven’t swum in the surf should be prepared for a tough swim.
Last year’s champion Tim Van Berkel said “The wind also whipped up the chop for the swim. I got a good start in the swim though and was in the lead group with ten others for the first lap. Thank goodness us Aussies are brought up swimming in the surf! In the end the first ten guys out of the water were all Australians, which says a lot. Hanson and Rapp from the USA were really struggling with the conditions.”
Ironman Cairns Bike
Get ready for the possibility of incredibly heavy winds, as each year the bike has its own challenges, winds being a major factor.
The first transition feeds onto Williams Esplanade, and Captain Cook Highway before heading south to the turn around. After athletes turn around, they’ll head north toward Port Douglas.
The route toward Port Douglas is truly breathtaking.
Tim Van Berkel told Trizone; “the bike course is definitely one of the most scenic in the world. It goes up through the Captain Cook Highway towards Port Douglas, and there’s ocean views on one side and tropical rainforest on the other,” said Van Berkel.
While the views may be great, the weather on the bike leg can make it incredibly tough. Van Berkel told Trizone “conditions on the day were challenging to say the least and the wet and windy weather definitely contributed to some carnage on the bike leg – both Luke McKenzie and Jordan Rapp punctured and Matt Hansen crashed early on. Todd Skipworth went down just in front of me and I nearly lost it twice myself.”
Ironman Cairns Run
The three-lap run course makes its way along the Cairns Esplanade and past the Esplanade Lagoon, a favourite spot among locals. Ironman says “Unfortunately for competitors, they will have to settle for one of the aid stations around the Esplanade, rather than stopping to enjoy a ‘cold one’ as they finish up the last two laps of the race, but the energy and support of all the spectators in the area should help to carry them through to the finish line.”
Who’s tipped to win
Defending champion Tim Van Berkel is tipped to win again this year. Not only does he know the course inside and out, after competing there many times, he’s also incredibly hungry to defend his title. David Dellow, known for his fierce biking ability who came second last year, may make it to the podium too. Braden Currie is always one to watch too. Kiwi Cameron Brown is in with a chance at the podium and his past experience at Cairns positions him with a good chance.
- Tim Van Berkel: 45% (1-1)
- David Dellow: 21% (4-1)
- Braden Currie: 12% (7-1)
- Fredrik Croneborg: 10% (9-1)
- Cameron Brown: 8% (12-1)
- Jeff Symonds: 2% (62-1)
Impressive cyclist Sarah Piampiano is tipped to win the women’s race, and she’s a clear favourite. Strong swimmer, Australian Sarah Crowley is likely to make the podium too, but the rest of the podium is anyone’s guess. American Jennie Hansen may be in with a shot, while German Kristin Moeller is also in with a chance. Aussie Dimity-Lee Duke may also be in with a chance due to her experience in the Australian conditions.
- Sarah Piampiano: 55% (1-1)
- Sarah Crowley: 34% (2-1)
- Jennie Hansen: 4% (24-1)
- Kristin Moeller: 3% (34-1)
- Tine Holst: 2% (56-1)
Who won last year – Men
Australian Tim Van Berkel finished in 8:15:03 and set a new course record in 2016. David Dellow made it into second, while Pete Jacobs came third. The swim record was set by Clayton Fettell in 2011, while Luke McKenzie set the bike record in 2013. Tim Van Berkel set the run course record in 2013.
Who won last year – Women
Jodie Cunnama of Great Britain won last year in a lightning fast 9:06:18, and set a new course record, a new swim record and a new bike record. The only record she didn’t set last year was for the run, and it was set last year by Linsey Corbin.
Ironman Cairns Weather
Cairn’s weather is every-changing and each year the conditions are different. As Cairns is tropical, the weather can become incredibly humid, very rainy or very hot. Most of the athletes arrive at the event at least a week earlier to help their bodies acclimatise to the conditions. Cameron Brown told Trizone he arrives in Cairns ten days early to help himself prepare for race day.
As IM Cairns is a Regional Championship and there are Automatic Qualifier spots for the winners, every participant has a chance to qualify for Kona. Also the P-4000 race has a lot of KPR points so there are a lot of athletes that should be able to qualify even without winning the race. Here are the minimum finishes for most of the participants.