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Rating the Canadian pros racing in Kona

by Thorsten Radde, TriRating.com

On October 12th, four Canadian Professional Athletes will be on the start line of the Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

Cody Beals wins Ironman Mont Tremblant (Credit: Kevin Mackinnon)

The first Canadian Pro to qualify for Kona 2019 was Cody Beals (bib M20) when he won Ironman Chattanooga two weeks before Kona 2018. He’s the Kona Pro with the best record on the Ironman distance: three starts, three wins. (There are a few other unbeaten Pros in Kona, but Laura Philipp, Jen Spieldenner, Alistair Brownlee and Daniel Baekkegard have “only” won one Ironman each.) It’s hard to predict his 2019 result: On paper he should be in the mix for a Top 10 finish, but with Kona rookies you never know how they are able to deal with the climate and the tactical demands of the Kona race.

The oldest Pro racing Kona will be 45-year old Sue Huse (F19)The mother of two was also able to secure her place on this year’s Kona startline by winning Ironman Taiwan. Since then Sue hasn’t had much luck racing – all I have for her in my database are two DNFs from 70.3 California and Ironman France when her saddle broke off the post at 40 miles. Hopefully she’ll have more luck in Kona!

Jen Annett finishes third at the Ironman European Championship in Frankfurt. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

Jen Annett (F28) has been racing a lot to get her Kona slot. In her first two Ironmans of the 2019 season she posted a new PR of 8:51 in Arizona and finished third in the European Championships in Frankfurt, but both times she was just outside the slots. She finally stamped her ticket in July by finishing second in Whistler behind fellow Canadian Heather Wurtele who declined her slot. Jen is looking to improve her 25th from Kona 2018 when she lost some time with technical issues on the bike. After Frankfurt she’s also confident she can run a solid marathon in the heat. An all-around good day could see her finish somewhere between eighth and 15th.

Lionel Sanders on the run course at Ironman Mont-Tremblant (Credit: Kevin Mackinnon)

The biggest Canadian name is Lionel Sanders (M17). After dealing with an injury for most of the 2019 season, he was able to get back to racing just in time for the final qualifier in Mont Tremblant and finished second to Cody Beals. Will we see a repeat of his second place in 2017 or his 28th in 2018? The first indication will be where Lionel exits the water: In 2017 he was leading the group with Sebastian Kienle and Cam Wurf, last year he lost three minutes to them. In 2017 he was able to get to the front in the climb up to Hawi, in 2018 he was six minutes behind at the turn. If he wants to be in the mix for a solid Top 10 this year, he’ll have to find at least his way to the main group by 60 miles.

Last year there were a record six Canadian Pros in Kona since the Pro field was reduced in 2011. Jen and Lionel were able to qualify again this year. Brent McMahon didn’t have a good 2019 season, after a DNF in Boulder and a fourth place in Lake Placid he’s regrouping for 2020. Angela Naeth was the top Canadian finisher last year with an eight place, she’s been dealing with injuries and missed getting a slot for 2019, but she’s safe for 2020 after her win at Ironman Chattanooga. Rachel McBride focused on bucket list races with Ironman Lanzarote and Challenge Roth even while dealing with crashes and broken bike frames. Kirsty Jahn took some time off triathlon to focus on running and is now busy growing a real baby to go with her fur baby.

This post had a look at the Canadian Pros in Kona. Do you want to know more about the international athletes competing with the Canadians? Then check out my “Kona 2019 Rating Report” [add link to https://www.trirating.com/announcing-the-kona-2019-rating-report/], 156 pages with more information about Kona than you’ll find anywhere else.