With the 2014 Ironman World Championship 75 days away, the first professional spots for the men and women will be handed out this week.
The Kona Pro Rankings (KPR) system was put into place in the fall of 2010 and requires professionals to be ranked against each other based on their finishes at 70.3 and Ironman events around the world. The top ranked 50 men and 35 women in the standings earn starts at the iconic race. A handful of athletes are considered automatic qualifiers and don’t count in the overall rankings. Athletes who have won the Ironman World Championship in the last five years, or who have won the Ironman 70.3 World Championship and Hy-Vee 5150 U.S. Championship in 2013 automatically earn spots in Kona. All athletes, including automatic qualifiers, must validate their start in Kona with a finish at a full Ironman event.
This week marks the end of the first qualifying period, and 40 men and 28 women, plus the automatic qualifiers, will be offered the opportunity to register given that they have validated. If a person has not validated or chooses not to accept his/her slot, it will roll down to the next eligible athlete. The remaining 17 spots (10 men and seven women) will be handed out at the end of August.
Frederik Van Lierde (BEL), Pete Jacobs (AUS) and Craig Alexander (AUS) have each won the Ironman World Championship in the last five years and have all validated with an Ironman finish. Though Alexander had previously said he will not return to compete in Kona, he will be offered a slot and told Firstoffthebike.com he will make a final decision by the end of August. Chris McCormack (AUS) is also eligible for a spot based on his 2012 Ironman world championship win, but he has not validated and has not said he intends to compete this year. Sebastian Kienle (GER) also earns a spot based on his 70.3 World Championship win and his validation. Javier Gomez (ESP) won Hy-Vee, but did not validate and has not expressed any intention of racing in Kona this year.
For the women, Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) is an automatic qualifier and has validated. Chrissie Wellington (GBR) and Leanda Cave (GBR) are both automatic qualifiers based on Kona wins. Wellington has retired from the sport, but Cave has Kona on her racing schedule so don’t be surprised if she pops up on the start list for an August Ironman. Melissa Hauschildt (AUS) has a spot locked up thanks to her win at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships. Like Gomez, Hy-Vee winner Emma Moffatt (AUS) has been busy on the ITU circuit and it does not appear she will validate her Kona slot.