After battling an injury this season, will 2011 women’s champ Melissa Hauschildt rise to the challenge of keeping her world title? Who will pull out a surprise podium finish, and who will fold in the Nevada desert heat? All bets are off this Sept. 9—race day of the 2012 Ironman 70.3 World Championship. (Read the men’s preview.) Go to Triathlete.com/Vegas2012 for complete coverage of the race.
Mirinda Carfrae (AUS), 31
The double world champion (she won the 70.3 world championship in 2007 in Clearwater and the 2010 Ironman World Championship) has never raced on the Vegas course, but if she decides to toe the line—her Kona build is her primary focus—she’ll be a race favorite. Earlier this season Carfrae won Rev3 Quassy.