The Girls of Kona – Who to watch out for in 2011

Girls just don't smack talk like the guys! It would make things much more exciting if they weren't so careful about saying something wrong. Any media's good media! Right? Chrissie Wellington is the standout favourite but who are the other top women who will be there ready to pounce

Girls just don’t smack talk like the guys! It would make things much more exciting if they weren’t so careful about saying something wrong. Any media’s good media! Right?

So with the pro women not wanting to say the wrong thing I thought I would ask one who is not racing in Kona but has had some great experience racing many of the women this year and who has also had some great wins this year.

Christie Sym gave Trizone her thoughts on Saturday’s race with the benefit of having raced many of the girls who will be trying to make a name for themselves in Kona this weekend.

So here’s my take on the women’s race from my experiences this season and what I’ve heard, spoken to / about and generally just my own personal views.

Chrissie Wellington is by far the favourite, that’s nothing new, but honestly she is in another league and the only thing that will prevent her from winning is herself. She is not only the best athlete out there but is determined beyond what many could imagine to regain that title. The backlash of not starting last year is a huge driver behind her assault this year and she is in the shape of her life, the majority of the men’s field should be scared.

If Mary Beth Ellis hadn’t just raced (and won!) 3 Ironman events since July she would be the favourite behind Chrissie. I trained with Ellis in the summer of 2010 & she is one talented, tough chick. Now under the guidance of Brett Sutton, I believe she will be a huge force in women’s long course racing moving forward, and nearing the end of her career isn’t going to waste any time mucking around. The biggest factor in Ellis’s performance in Kona will be lingering fatigue & any injuries she may be carrying from the past few months. Don’t be surprised if she is right up there in the hunt, although lingering fatigue will more than likely pay it’s toll on the marathon but still see her finish top ten.

Catriona Morrison is my other pick who has not received as much attention as I think should be paid. I have seen firsthand Cat’s ability on the bike. She is capable of riding with the top bikers and running sub 3 hours if she is healthy and uninjured. As far as I know she is both (which she hasn’t been at Kona in recent years) she’s in fantastic shape so expect to see her right up the front and racing hard. She can handle the heat as she demonstrated in Abu Dhabi earlier this year & I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to see her on the podium.

Mirinda Carfrae obviously is going to run fast, very fast. We saw that demonstrated at HyVee 5 weeks ago over 10km and she is fit, her marathon should be fast. Will she run faster than Chrissie? I’m not entirely sure, but I can tell you I think it will be close. Chrissie has lifted her run this season & I can tell you this is something that will be on her mind. Rinnie (Carfrae) showed a huge improvement in her Kona bike split in 2010, it will be interesting to see how she responds to what I predict will be a much faster bike up the front of the women’s race this year.

Last years women’s race report and results

Last year’s top ten…

1Carfrae, Mirinda29/WPRO0:55:535:04:592:53:328:58:36
2Steffen, Caroline32/WPRO0:55:574:59:223:05:479:06:00
3Dibens, Julie35/WPRO0:53:504:55:273:16:129:10:04
4Berasategui, Virginia35/WPRO0:57:465:05:363:08:309:16:47
5Joyce, Rachel32/WPRO0:52:255:10:323:11:099:18:48
6Thuerig, Karin38/WPRO1:13:124:48:223:14:269:22:48
7Van Vlerken, Yvonne32/WPRO1:01:584:59:413:17:399:23:33
8Snow, Caitlin28/WPRO0:57:505:27:402:56:049:26:42
9Bij De Vaate, Heleen36/WPRO1:13:075:02:303:06:489:27:02
10Cave, Leanda32/WPRO0:55:435:07:293:20:059:27:42

Caroline Steffen is consistent, strong, and has the experience of her debut in 2010 behind her this year. I expect to see her right up there off the bike and it will be interesting to see how fast she can run this year, my guess a low 3 hour marathon which will have her right up in the mix. Her season has obviously been planned around Kona and I hope to see her right up there; I don’t think she’ll disappoint.

The Julie / Chrissie dynamic on the bike will be interesting. Possibly the only female capable of riding

Chrissie’s speed or faster is Karin Theurig. Karin’s challenge is that she could be anywhere from 12-15 minutes behind the top women out of the swim. Julie’s withdrawal from Vegas on the run may be a sign of injury as indicated post race, or perhaps something more. Personally I see Chrissie leading into T2.

My pick for first out of the water is Rachel Joyce but don’t be surprised if Leanda Cave beats her this year. I think we can expect to see Rachel well into the top ten again this year. Another change I expect to see this year is

Lindsey Corbin riding much faster than in previous years. She had a fantastic ride in Vegas and word on the street is that he is riding incredibly strong. This should in my opinion see her up there in the top 10 on Saturday.

Lucie Zelenkova is another one to watch for a top ten result.

I think it’s going to be harder for someone like Caitlin Snow relying on a fast run to come through in top positions this year as it should be faster racing from the front. There is a lot of strong bikers this year and I think we can expect to see an aggressive race, and most likely some major explosions as a result so who knows, but if the strong bikers can control their effort and run smooth I think this will determine the top ten results.