Yes, it’s only May and it may be a bit too early to be talking about the main contenders for October’s Ironman World Championship, but some recent news on the women’s side warrants some preliminary speculation.
Three-time Ironman World Champion Chrissie Wellington will no doubt be the favorite, but it already looks like she will be facing her toughest competition yet.
Two fellow Brits officially signed up for the Ironman World Championship within the last few days, and each of them could contend for the title.
Scotland’s Catriona Morrison did compete in last year’s race, but she did so with an injury. On Saturday, Morrison won her first Ironman at Ironman Lanzarote in the Canary Islands. Her victory came thanks to a comeback in the marathon after sitting on the side of the bike course for nearly 30 minutes with a broken chain. With the win, Morrison earned a slot to compete in the 2010 Ironman World Championship. As long as Morrison stays healthy through October, she is a legitimate contender for the title.
Another recent entrant to the big dance in Kona is Great Britain’s Julie Dibens. Dibens recently said on her twitter account, “just entered for kona! have tried about 4 times but could never click the last button!” With her victory at last year’s Ironman World Championship 70.3, Dibens gained a slot to Kona but she had been hesitant to commit to the race until now.
The addition of Dibens to the lineup may benefit the entire women’s field in the quest to beat Wellington. Dibens will most likely outpace Wellington out of the swim, and the two are fairly evenly matched when it comes to the bike. Regardless of whether or not Dibens will be able to beat Wellington onto the run course, it will at least give her someone to race against on the back half of the bike course.
With Dibens and Wellington dueling it out on the bike course, it could leave room for a faster runner like Morrison, or last year’s runner-up Mirinda Carfrae of Australia, to sneak in on the marathon and take the victory. Carfrae, who holds the course marathon record at the Ironman World Championship, has also made impressive gains in her cycling. Carfrae blew away a top field at the Ironman 70.3 California triathlon back in March by leading off of the bike and turning in yet another strong half marathon.
Wellington is no doubt aware of the new competition for this year. She trained with Morrison in Spain for a few weeks and sometimes trains with Dibens in Boulder, Colo.
Check back to Competitor.com in the months leading up to the Ironman World Championship for more coverage.