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Kona Preview: Daniela Ryf goes for a 5-peat

Daniela Ryf on her way to another dominating win at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship. (Photo: Kevin Mackinnon)

It’s hard to imagine any other pre-race favorite in the women’s race at the Ironman World Championship other than Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf. She’s won four straight titles after finishing second in 2014, her first Kona appearance. She’s dominated the Ironman and Ironman 70.3 world championships for the last half-decade, with only that runner-up finish in Kona and a fourth-place finish at the Ironman 70.3 worlds on the Sunshine Coast in 2016 marring a perfect record of wins – she’s captured five 70.3 world titles and four Kona titles in that time frame.

In other words, it’s her race to lose on the Big Island.

One athlete we at Triathlon Magazine Canada figured might offer some competition to the Swiss star, Mirinda Carfrae, who we featured on the cover of our September issue, offered up some disappointing news via social media yesterday – she had a crash a few weeks ago and is dealing with a fractured radius. While she intends to be at the start line in Kona, it’s hard to imagine that she’ll be ready to compete at the highest level coming off weeks of one-arm swimming.

It’s not as though Carfrae is the only woman with the potential to push Ryf in Kona, though. Great Britain’s Lucy Charles-Barclay, who we featured on our July cover of TMC, has been the runner up in Kona the last two years and has been steadily improving, especially on the run. A former national-team swimmer, Charles-Barclay routinely leads the women out of the water and is a formidable cyclist. An improved run will only make her that much more competitive.

The list of talented contenders also includes Australian Sarah Crowley, who finished third in Kona two years ago and sixth last year. Germany’s Anne Haug, third last year and another super-fast runner. American Sarah True, fourth last year, in theory is another contender, but a challenging qualifying year might have her a little tired heading into Hawaii.

Jen Annett celebrates a third-place finish at the Ironman European Championship in Frankfurt. (Photo: Kevin Mackinnon)

Canadian women

After Ironman Canada there could have been three Canadian women on their way to Kona this year, but Heather Wurtele declined her spot. Jen Annett managed to nail her trip to Kona with her runner-up finish to Wurtele, which seemed all-too-appropriate after Annett missed a Kona slot by one place with her third-place finish in Frankfurt. Always strong on the bike, Annett will no-doubt enjoy another fast day along the Queen K in October.

The first Canadian woman to nail her slot in Kona was Sue Huse, another of the impressive super moms who lives in Montana. She won the swim-shortened Ironman Taiwan last year.

Last year’s eighth-place finisher on the Big Island, Angela Naeth, won’t be back in Kona this year after a series of brave qualifying attempts after a bike crash sidelined her in May.

Here’s a list of the women’s qualifiers for this year’s Ironman World Championship compiled by Thorsten Radde of Trirating.com including the races where they qualified.

Name Country Race
1 Carfrae, Mirinda AUS IM Hawaii
2 Ryf, Daniela SUI IM Hawaii
3 Corbin, Linsey USA IM Wisconsin
4 Pedersen, Camilla DEN IM Wales
5 Bleymehl, Daniela GER IM Italy
6 Philipp, Laura GER IM Barcelona
7 Huse, Sue CAN IM Taiwan
8 Charles-Barclay, Lucy GBR IM Hawaii
9 Haug, Anne GER IM Hawaii
10 Spieldenner, Jennifer USA IM Louisville
11 Hufe, Mareen GER IM Malaysia
12 Jackson, Heather USA IM Arizona
13 Thoes, Svenja GER IM Cozumel
14 Riveros, Barbara CHI IM Western Australia
15 Steffen, Caroline SUI IM Western Australia
16 Cheetham, Susie GBR IM Mar del Plata
17 Crowley, Sarah AUS IM Mar del Plata
18 Kessler, Meredith USA IM New Zealand
19 McCauley, Jocelyn USA IM New Zealand
20 Frades Larralde, Gurutze ESP IM South Africa
21 Watkinson, Annah ZAF IM South Africa
22 Seymour, Jeanni ZAF IM Texas
23 Smith, Lesley USA IM Texas
24 Siddall, Laura GBR IM Australia
25 Bartlett, Nikki GBR IM Lanzarote
26 Piampiano, Sarah USA IM Brasil
27 Liepold, Kristin GER IM Cairns
28 Sali, Kaisa FIN IM Cairns
29 Visser, Els NED IM Cairns
30 Brandon, Lauren USA IM Boulder
31 Mack, Danielle USA IM Boulder
32 Bilham, Emma SUI IM Ireland
33 Lester, Carrie AUS IM France
34 Moench, Skye USA IM Germany
35 Simmonds, Imogen SUI IM Germany
36 Steurer, Bianca AUT IM Austria
37 Derron, Nina SUI IM Vitoria-Gasteiz
38 Kunz, Martina SUI IM Hamburg
39 Annett, Jen CAN IM Canada
40 Withrow, Kelsey USA IM Canada
41 Abraham, Corinne GBR IM Tallinn
42 Morrison, Kimberley GBR IM Tallinn
43 Stage Nielsen, Maja DEN IM Copenhagen
44 True, Sarah USA IM Mont Tremblant