A year ago all eyes were on Geelong as Javier Gomez jumped into the race to nail his qualifying spot for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Nice. This year it appears as though all the Olympic hopefuls are focused on their short-course training as a who’s who of Aussie and Kiwi middle-distance stars will line up to kick start Ironman’s Oceania series.
Some of Australia and New Zealand’s top half-distance athletes will be on hand this weekend at Ironman 70.3 Geelong, which kicks off the Ironman Oceania series.
Leading the women will be Kiwi Hanna Wells, fresh off a runner-up finish at Challenge Wanaka last weekend, who took two 70.3 titles in Australia last year (Sunshine Coast and Western Australia).
“This is my first time racing Geelong 70.3,” Wells says. “Unlike everyone else I am not coming out of an off season, as Geelong 70.3 will be my third race of 2020. I will be going into a bit of a rest period/off season after this race, so it is slightly different timing to many other athletes. However, it has worked well for me to time my season this way.”
Her main competition is likely to be Australia’s Grace Thek, second in Geelong two years ago and third last year. (The woman who beat Wells in Wanaka, Radka Kahlefeldt, is listed on the start list for Geelong, but since she’s making her Ironman debut in New Zealand next weekend and she’s not listed in the pre-race media preview, we’re assuming she’s taking the weekend off.)
To see the Ironman 70.3 Geelong pro start list, click here.
Appleton looks for another win
Two-time Ironman 70.3 Geelong champion Sam Appleton suffered some bike issues at last year’s race, but was still able to take second to Gomez. He made his Ironman deubut at Ironman Western Australia last December, then took the rest of the month off to recover and is building back to fitness heading into this weekend’s race.
The man who took second at Ironman Western Australia behind Alistair Brownlee, Matt Burton is also in the field. Burton managed to break the eight-hour barrier in the process, setting himself up as one of Australia’s fastest-ever full-distance racers and is certainly going to be one to watch as well.
A couple of world champions will also be in the field, including Tim Reed, the 2016 Ironman 70.3 world champion when it was held at the Sunshine Coast and Ironman legend Craig Alexander, the two-time 70.3 and three-time Ironman world champion, who continues to compete with the world’s best over the half-distance at 46 years of age. Others to watch include super-swimmer Josh Amberger and Tim Van Berkel.