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A busy weekend of racing in the Ironman Series

Seven races from all across the globe.

It is the beginning of June and that signals that the triathlon season is in full swing. In the Ironman Series alone, they boast one of their biggest weekends of racing with 7 races on tap.

Check out the list of races below. Click on the race to find out more details about that particular event.

Ironman.com will have live coverage. Get in your training and racing, then get back home and check out all the great racing from around the world.

Ironman Cairns – June 9, 2013

McCormack, Brown the targets at IRONMAN Cairns – by USM Media

Cairns Airport IRONMAN Cairns is shaping up as a battle between the old guard and the new kids on the block.

Australian triathlon royalty Chris McCormack will be joined on the starting line by last year’s runner up and 10-time IRONMAN New Zealand Champion Cameron Brown.

Between them the pair has notched up and impressive 23 Ironman titles, with McCormack sitting on a total of 12, more than any other man in history.

After spending much of last season chasing a London Olympic berth McCormack is looking forward to again testing his Ironman legs off the back of a huge training block.

“The preparation has been solid but you always feel like you could do a little more. My season was derailed a little earlier in the year after I broke my hand and required surgery after an event in Abu Dhabi,” he said.

“It set things back a fair bit but overall I have moved passed that issue and have put a few solid weeks of work together. I came to Europe to race some very tough half distance events and they really force you to race above your fitness levels. It is a good way to fast track a training program if you are a little under done.

“I am looking forward to jumping back in and going long again. I really want to be even in my run and try to leave some depth for the season. This race will set me up for Kona. It will be good to try some things out here that we can build on moving forward.”

Current IRONMAN World Champion Pete Jacobs, who will be racing in the IRONMAN 70.3 Cairns, believes that Brown and Macca richly deserve to go into the race as red hot favourites.

“The field has a few relatively new Ironman athletes with nothing to lose, who will push hard on the bike; of course Chris McCormack is the man to beat. He knows what needs to be done and if he wants the win, he will be hard to beat,” Jacobs said.

“I’d love to see Cam Brown get up. He’s had a rough run of illness and below par races since he couldn’t start in Kona last year. He has been an amazingly consistent Ironman athlete over the journey and one of the best in the world, so I hope he’s feeling good and can hurt the field on the run.”

However, if Brown and Macca spend too much time worrying about each other, there is any number of athletes in what is a very strong field, who could cause an upset.

You could almost put your house on the fact that Clayton Fettell will come off the bike with some sort of lead. The super fish and uber biker is looking for a big performance after a disappointing day at the URBAN Hotel Group IRONMAN Asia Pacific Championship, Melbourne.

“Melbourne was mentally very tough for me as the shorter swim meant my strength was taken away, I will be looking for a long hard swim at Cairns,” he said.

For his part Fettell will be keeping his eye on Brown and Macca, but also fellow Aussie Luke McKenzie.

McKenzie, a five time Ironman champion has been training in the US, and his recent Ironman 70.3 form has been solid.

He has recorded top ten finishes in all of his last three IRONMAN 70.3 races with an eighth at St George, ninth at Oceanside and seventh at Pucon.

“I have been living and training in San Diego for the past two months and the new training environment has been great and helped lift me to a really good place going into Cairns,” he said.

“I have been working on my bike leg a lot. Over the last 18 months I feel like I haven’t been riding at a level I’m capable of. I have made the bike a real focus during this block of training.”

McKenzie see’s the main obstacles to registering his sixth Ironman title as Macca and Brown, but also thinks Fettell is one to watch.
Crawford not fazed as favourite

The women’s race at Cairns Airport IRONMAN Cairns looks set to be a battle between experience and IRONMAN rookies.

Six-time Ironman champion, New Zealand mother Gina Crawford is the red hot favourite, simply due to her sheer body of work.

Her biggest threat will likely come from a first time Ironman, accomplished Olympic distance athlete Liz Blatchford, who is going long distance for the first time after cutting her teeth on the Ironman 70.3 circuit last year.

“She is a very experienced athlete and I am sure she will do very well at the longer distance,” Crawford said.

“But I am just focused on getting myself into the best shape I can to perform to the best of my ability. No matter how many Ironman races you have achieved the length is always a bit daunting and I am just focused on what I need to do to get myself though the race as fast as possible.”

For some athletes carrying the tag of favourite can prove to be a heavy burden, it can force them into a mindset of  racing not to lose, rather than racing to win.

Not so for Crawford, she lets other people worry about who is the favourite.

“It makes no difference to me what tag I am given. I just go to each race and give my absolute all to be the best I can be on race day,” she said.

Crawford aside, Blatchford is the most credentialed athlete on paper, albeit at races of a shorter distance for the past 12 years. The Gold Coast-based Brit enjoyed a host of podiums on the ITU circuit for a decade before moving to the Ironman 70.3 distance last year. She has enjoyed Ironman 70.3 wins at Boulder and recently at Busselton and second at Mandurah along with a win at Huskisson and second in the long course event at Koh Samui recently.

“Early last year I was focussed on making the Games and after that I switched to long course racing, so Ironman was a natural progression,” said Blatchford

“Cairns in particular appealed, warm, humid, home state, timing – it just worked well for me.”

Blatchford enters Cairns not having run a marathon before but not concerned knowing she has the base work in her legs.
“I’m feeling extremely nervous but also excited to tackle the distance. I raced in Thailand in April and had a solid race, finishing in good shape. That gave me the confidence to enter Cairns.

“A win would be fantastic but i think i need to be smart and not get carried away.  It’s unchartered waters for me and there are some great girls racing with a tonne of experience.”

There are a number of athletes in the field who could cause an upset and one of those is American Beth Walsh.

In her first full season of racing as a pro last year, Walsh notched up two top ten finishes in Ironman racing, an eighth at IRONMAN Cozumel and second at IRONMAN Wisconsin.

She possesses a blistering run leg so look for her to run herself into a podium position. Her second at Wisconsin included a sub three-hour marathon, the fastest run split.

Also keep an eye on Aussie Michelle Wu, the accomplished IRONMAN 70.3 racer, who is stepping up to take on her first IRONMAN.

But with experience on her side, and a resume that includes six IRONMAN titles, it’s Crawford’s race to lose.

“I am racing an Ironman so I don’t think you can expect everything to turn out the way you have planned. I will be happy to make a few small improvements on the three Iron distance races I have started this year already,” Crawford said.

“During the swim I don’t want to give too much time away to Liz Blatchford, who I know is a really strong swimmer.” She has decided to move to the bigger 700cm rim on her bike after riding the smaller 650c for five years.

“I will be testing this bike out for the first time and using this experience to make future changes in my setup. And for the run, I want to build on the running form that I showed in Melbourne.”

The Cairns Airport IRONMAN Cairns event is Sunday 9 June, 2013. Race starts from 07.25am (local time).

Ironman 70.3 Boise – June 8, 2013

Ironman 70.3 Eagleman – June 9

Ironman 70.3 Kansas – June 9

Ironman 70.3 Japan – June 9

Ironman 70.3 Cairns – June 9

Ironman 70.3 Italy – June 9