Who will be in Kona:
While the men’s race won’t have as much drama as we were hoping, it will still have defending world champion Craig Alexander. Two-time Ironman world champ Chris McCormack has confirmed that he still plans to race after not making the Australian Olympic team. Between the two Aussies, they’ve won the last five Konas. Another top Aussie, Pete Jacobs (runner-up last year) will be there and looking to move one spot up the podium. This might be the year the Germans regain the crown, with Andreas Raelert not recovering from breaking the iron-distance world record. He won Challenge Kraichgau (a half-iron-distance race) in June and followed that up with a fourth-place finish in a tough field at the Ironman Frankfurt European Championship earlier this month. His younger brother Michael Raelert made his highly anticipated Ironman debut in Regensburg in June and finished second to veteran long-course pro Dirk Bockel of Luxembourg (who finished fourth in Kona last year). Germany’s Timo Bracht also got the win at Ironman Western Australia in late 2011 and put in an impressive runner-up performance at Challenge Roth this month. With other top names such as Belgians Marino Vanhoenacker and Frederik Van Lierde, Aussie Luke McKenzie, South Africans Raynard Tissink and James Cunnama, Great Britain’s Tom Lowe and Spain’s Eneko Llanos, the field is still stacked and will make for another exciting race this October.
On the women’s side, we’ve known since early this year that the queen of Ironman won’t be defending her crown this year. That leaves the 2010 champ, Mirinda Carfrae, to step up in her place. She’ll have tough competition from Switzerland’s Caroline Steffen, who has victories at Ironman Melbourne and Ironman Frankfurt this year, and who was runner-up to Carfrae in 2010. British athletes Leanda Cave (who got third at Kona last year) and Rachel Joyce are looking strong this season. And so far this season, some of the American women have looked healthy and strong, including Linsey Corbin, Meredith Kessler and Mary Beth Ellis (the last American to win in Kona was Tim DeBoom in 2002). Also watch for Canadian Heather Wurtele, who finished eighth in Kona last year—her two Ironman St. George titles have shown she can handle the wind and a tough course.
Check back to Triathlete.com as we keep you updated on who’s going to be in Kona this fall.