By Barrie Shepley
IRONMANIA WEEK DAY FOUR: Today let’s size up the competition on the women’s front for this year’s Ironman World Championships on Saturday October 10th! The competition is stacked. These are our picks for who to keep an eye out for on Saturday.
Carol Steffen, Mary Beth Ellis & Liz Blatchford
Switzerland, USA and Australia are well represented with Seffen, Elis and Blatchford. All three women have won numerous Ironman races and they all race the same. Great swimmers, terrific bikers, and very good runners. If Ryf or Carfrae falter for any reason, all three of these women are more than capable and ready to be on the Kona podium. Blatchford has the least Ironman experience (having spent more time on the ITU Olympic Circuit), but she has already proven she can be on the podium in Kona with her 3rd in 2013 debut. Mary Beth has the most wins, but has not been able to dial in the big performance in Kona. Caroline Steffen has twice been runner up on this course and after a year of setbacks due to injuries, she will be hungry to finish off with a big day. Everyone pretty much believes that the rest of the field are fighting for bronze with Ryf and Carfrae as the two odds on favourites for first and second.
Canadian Women to Watch
The last time Canada had a legitimate medal threat in Kona on the women’s side, it was former Olymipian Samantha McGlone in 2007. McGlone was a very close 2nd overall in Hawaii just a year after ending her Olympic racing career. This year in Kona, Canada has Kelowna’s Heather Wurtele and Angela Naeth. Wurtele is and her husband Trevor both race professionally and have become famous for the two living and training out of their camper-van. They sold their earthy belongings a few years ago, and have been racing and living out of their trailer ever since. Heather has had big performances this year (including a podium at the 70.3 Worlds last month) and is looking to make up for a disappointing race in Kona last year. Both Heather and Angela play a similar game. They are average swimmers who try to minimize their losses out of the water. Both women are exceptional bikers (perhaps only Ryf, Ellis and Steffen can ride faster then the two) and they have proven they can run fast off the bike. Naeth is making her Kona debut, but her win at Ironman Texas this spring was so impressive, it has many believing she could fight it out for a podium before the day is over. It would be a big surprise if both women are not in the top 10 before the day ends.
Who are you cheering for this Saturday? Let us know in the comment section below if you think we missed anyone!