Two-time defending champions Kristian Blummenfelt and Holly Lawrence headline a pair of strong fields set to race at the Ironman 70.3 Middle East Championships in Bahrain on Dec.7.
Norway’s Blummenfelt won the race in 2017 in his 70.3 debut and then successfully defended the title last year by setting a new half-distance world record in a blazing time of 3:29:04. His countryman Casper Stornes, who took third last year and also went under the previous record, will also be in the field.
Blummenfelt comes in on good form, having recently placed fourth at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in September just a week after taking the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Lausanne, and will have a good shot at the three-peat.
Other notable male entries include American Ben Kanute, Austrian Michael Weiss and Denmark’s Daniel Bækkegård, who all have 70.3 wins under their belt this year. Weiss is just a few weeks off of his second-place showing at Ironman Cozumel where he clocked 7:47:24.
On the women’s side, Lawrence is the clear favourite as she seeks a third straight title. The 2018 race was her first after overcoming a fractured ankle earlier in the year and, since then, she’s had a phenomenal 2019 that’s included wins at 70.3 Dubai, St. George (the North American championship), Elsinore (the European championship) and Vietnam (the Asia-Pacific championship), and a runner-up finish at the world championships in Nice.
Other contenders in the women’s race will be Sweden’s Sara Svensk, who won Ironman Barcelona this year and was 10th at worlds, along with South African Annah Watkinson, who took fifth last year and added a third-place finish at the Ironman African Championship in April.
The race will also feature a celebrity relay that includes a Legends team made up of Australian open water swimmer Chloe McCardel, British cyclist Mark Cavendish and four-time Olympic track champion Mo Farah.
There will be 75 qualifying slots on the line for the 2020 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Taupo, New Zealand.