A preview of this Sunday’s Ironman Arizona triathlon in Tempe, Arizona.
Ironman Arizona has yet to take place this year, yet it has been the subject of several news headlines in 2010. First, a bladder holding the dam together at Tempe Town Lake burst in July, putting into question whether Ironman Arizona would be a triathlon or a duathlon. Thanks to some quick work by the City of Tempe, the lake was repaired and re-filled in plenty of time for the event. The event garnered headlines once again last month when three-time Ironman world champion Chrissie Wellington dropped out of the Kona race due to illness and then later announced she would race at Ironman Arizona.
Even if all of the professional women entering this event were racing on fresh legs, Wellington would be the overwhelming favorite; but that is not the case. Every other top female pro racing on Sunday has already had a full season of racing. In contrast, Wellington has only raced three times this year, with her last start dating back to Aug. 22 at the Ironman 70.3 Timberman race. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where Wellington doesn’t dominate on Sunday. She’ll likely go after the win and the course record, which was established at last year’s event by Samantha McGlone with a time of 9:09:19. So who will challenge Wellington and vie for a podium spot? With McGlone choosing not to defend, 2009 runner-up Linsey Corbin, fifth place finisher Leanda Cave, Ironman Canada winner Meredith Kessler and Ironman St. George winner Heather Wurtele are four of the top contenders. It’s important to not that all of these athletes raced last month at the Ironman World Championship in Kona.
The men’s field features several of the sport’s Ironman stars. Last year’s Ironman Arizona winner Jordan Rapp will be back to defend, despite sitting most of the year out after recovering from a brutal bike accident in March. Repeating won’t be easy for Rapp as he is facing top names from around the world, all looking for valuable points towards Ironman World Championship qualification. The biggest competition will come from strong field of Europeans. Hungary’s Jozsef Major (2008 Ironman Arizona winner), Denmark’s Rasmus Henning and Germany’s Timo Bracht, Maik Twelsiek, Max Longree, Jan Raphael are all on the start list. Also racing are Americans Chris Lieto and Matt Reed. Reed will be making his Ironman debut.
Check back to Triathlete.com for post-race coverage of Sunday’s Ironman Arizona event.