Defending champion Heather Jackson headlines women’s-only pro race at Ironman Arizona
Jackson, along with Australian Sarah Crowley, arrive as pre-race favourites in Tempe, while Canadian Melanie McQuaid will also be in action.
After the pro-men-only race at Ironman Florida earlier this month, the pro women will get their chance to race next weekend at Ironman Arizona. The event has attracted a star-studded contingent with a US$50,000 prize purse and two qualifying slots for the 2020 Ironman World Championship on the line.
Highlighting the field is defending champion Heather Jackson, who set a new American Ironman record at last year’s race in a blistering time of 8:39:18. Jackson has had a strong year, including wins at Ironman Vitoria-Gasteiz, 70.3 Chattanooga and 70.3 Coeur d’Alene, and most recently finished fifth in Hawaii last month.
Also entering the race in good form is Australian Sarah Crowley, who took third in Kona and will look to wrap up a successful season that’s included 70.3 wins in Taiwan and Santa Cruz, along with a pair of second-place showings at the Ironman Asia Pacific Championships and Challenge Roth. The 36-year-old Brisbane native has been sub-nine hours in all three of her full-distance races so far in 2019.
Based on what they’ve shown this year, both Jackson and Crowley could have a shot at Chrissie Wellington’s 2010 course record of 8:36:13 depending on the conditions come race day.
Also expected to challenge for the victory are Americans Meredith Kessler, Linsey Corbin and Lauren Brandon. Kessler won three consecutive races in Tempe from 2014 to 2016, while both Corbin (Wisconsin) and Brandon (Boulder) have picked up Ironman wins this year.
Victoria’s Melanie McQuaid will be the lone Canadian pro competing, as the three-time XTERRA world champion will aim to close out her year on a high note after a second-place finish at Ironman Wisconsin in September.
In addition to the two pro qualifying spots on the line for Kona, there will also be 40 slots available for age groupers on Nov.24.