Nine of the top pros gathered in St. George’s Town Square on Friday ahead of the Ironman 70.3 U.S. Pro Championship. See what they had to say below.
Leanda Cave (GBR)
On choosing to race Ironman 70.3 St. George.
This is a destination race. It’s a beautiful place to race. I don’t know if anyone out there has plans post-race, but I certainly do. It’s one of those places where you have to get out and see it for all of its beauty. That’s one of the reasons I’m here, and secondly there’s some serious talent on the start line. I’m a true believer of racing the best in the world. You never really get a true indication of where you are in terms of your fitness and performance until you get to the start line and race some of the best. It really sets me up for what I need to do for the rest of the year in terms of what I need to do for training to get to the world championship races in September and October where I want to be in the best shape of my life. This is a great starting place for me to see where I can improve or see what I’m actually pretty good at. It’s great all of these girls are here and it’s great to have this race to find out if I’m fit or not.
Andrew Starykowicz (USA)
On his race strategy for Saturday.
My strategy is to get on the bike and make everyone chase me. I’m going to go out and swim as fast as I can and get out of the water and the first 10 miles are the nicest of the course, meaning that it’s pretty flat and quick. Then you can get a lot of people on the edge for the first climb. I’m going to put my foot down and constant pressure. We’ll see what happens at the end of the day. I’m excited. It’s awesome that St. George and the community have been able to close the roads that they have. The pavement conditions are awesome. I come from the Midwest and I’m used to dodging potholes and I didn’t see a single pothole on the course so I’m excited.
Sebastian Kienle (GER)
On the similarity of this course to the 70.3 world championships in Las Vegas.
I think the climate is a little friendlier than it was in Vegas in September. It’s not too far from Vegas here in Utah. The course is, especially on the bike, is also similar to the one in Vegas. I think I already proved that this kind of course suits me pretty good. So I hope I’m not too far from the result from Vegas.
Kelly Williamson (USA)
On how she’s feeling heading into the race.
I’m not going to sit here and say that I feel amazing and everything is totally on, because it’s not. I got a few nice comments after St. Anthony’s. Everyone said, “Kelly, I saw you did St. Anthony’s. Good run!” Which is nice, but it was because the other things weren’t quite there. It was fun to do St. Anthony’s as a little speed for this. I’ve gotten some good rest in. It’s a gorgeous place. Coeur d’Alene was my first Ironman in 2010 and this puts you in that kind of mentality. Clear blue skies. Cool weather. Well, cool to me at least. I’m excited to get out there against an amazing field.
Andy Potts (USA)
On where this race fits into his season.
The way I look at a year is that I don’t put races on a hierarchy, A, B and C racing. The way I like to plan it out is more like they’re a bunch of lily pads out there and I’m trying to leapfrog my way up to the biggest lily pad, which would be Hawaii. I like to race my best every time out, but what I’m bringing to the table will hopefully be a little bit more as I get through the season. I like to tell people it’s a smart way to do it because it keeps you motivated throughout the year and then I’ll break it down with goals in between races. Weekly goals, down to daily goals. So that it’s not a looming, daunting race at the end of the year that just says, “I’m scary. Beware.” You approach it in a smart manner and you give yourself an opportunity each time you race. That’s why I gave myself this opportunity to see if my riding is where I want it to be and if I’m making the right progress. It’s another test.
Meredith Kessler (USA)
On the Ironman New Zealand win earlier this year.
I love Taupo. I’ll be back next year for the 30th anniversary. That is always a special race. It falls a little early in March. I decided to go earlier than that and race Auckland in January and work on the weaknesses in December, which is always king for me to try to do and then try to jumpstart that into the season in January and March. This will be my first time going into Kona a little bit fresher. I tend to do more Ironmans than I probably should be going into the big dance.
Heather Wurtele (CAN)
On training in St. George.
We fell in love with the area when there was the first full Ironman in the area in 2010. I was happy enough to win that race and that probably made my view rosy. The area was just awesome. We loved it.
We’ve spent a lot of times on the roads around here, swimming in the lakes, at the Washington Community Rec Center so it the course is definitely very challenging on the bike and the run so knowing this course is a little bit of an advantage.
Jordan Rapp (USA)
On his mentality of racing after a near-death accident a few years ago.
I think every time I come out here there’s always that nervousness that racing is still super special. I think that’s one of those things that makes me know that I made the right decision to come back and do this. I think if you stop getting nervous. I think if you stop getting nervous on race day, that’s a bad thing. It’s certainly not something we wish upon ourselves, the butterflies in the stomach, but I think it’s a sign that you’re putting the appropriate care and thought and effort about doing things like this. You don’t know what you’re capable of. You’re challenging yourself in a pretty remarkable way. I think it’s that sort of unknown. That first year I was afraid to ride my bike. I think I did it just to prove that I could. I think once I crossed that one-year line I started thinking more about the things that didn’t happen. I didn’t die and I didn’t break my neck and I didn’t lose a career. All of these positives. That’s what I try to focus on now. Being happy to be out here. I like to race to win and I like to do well, but I’m coming out here because racing is special and I think you always hope to have your best day and you put the training in and plan to have a great day. Even if things don’t go your way, we’re pretty lucky to be out here. I would say that even as hard as it can be I try to enjoy this kind of suffering because it sure beats the other kind of suffering.
Ben Hoffman (USA)
On racing in St. George.
St. George is a special place to me. Dating back to even before they had the Ironman here, I was coming here to do training trips in college. That was my start in triathlon. We would get out of the Montana winter and come here and have some fun in the sun and train on the course. We didn’t know at the time, but it was the course. It’s been a special journey over the last three years to do this race. It was obviously one of the hardest on the circuit when it was an Ironman. I was second in the first year, which I was ecstatic about and then fourth the next year and I won it last year. That was in some of the toughest conditions I’ve ever seen. It was a crazy day. As far as this race goes, even though it’s a half distance I think it’s probably the only half Ironman that’s basically going to be like an Ironman. As far as the competition goes, it’s going to push us all day. We have some of the best athletes in the world. It’s going to be a really fast race for the course.
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