1. Heather Wurtele
I don’t know how someone who won the 1500 point Panama 70.3, had a close top 3 at the 1500 point St George 70.3, won Quassy Rev 3, and crushed Julie Dibens’ Coure d’Alene Ironman Record (she won other stuff too but we’ll point out the obvious), does not become a favorite for Kona. The Ironman she won was a hard course, Panama was hot, every other field was stacked…. She is so strong this year. I think she did too much travelling leading up to Vegas which resulted in a relatively poor showing there but since she has hunkered down in the middle of nowhere in the RV I bet she is polishing the axe for the weekend. Not just a sentimental favourite. I think she is a legitimate threat.
2. Meredith Kessler
The nicest woman who is going to kick your ass. Meredith has shown that when she is on form she has zero weakness. Some of her weakness might be over racing at times but not leading up to Kona. I think there has been a thoughtful retreat from the limelight to put some hard work in and I’m betting she is ready to uncork a huge one. I don’t know if anyone has the actual Ironman racing experience the MBK has given she has finished close to 1000 of them but her recent incredible brilliance in the 70.3 ranks shows she is going faster than ever.
3. Caroline Steffen
The always strong race that Caroline has in Kona year after year should be expected yet again. Her swim has improved this year which should mean she will be out in front earlier than ever and I can only imagine she is working hard on her run with Brett Sutton’s endless marathons in training. No one should ever count her out of a top finish position given she delivers every single year.
Everyone thinks Cait doesn’t ride fast. She hasn’t done much racing this year so she is keeping it very, very quiet, but that little lady rode a very impressive race at Steelhead that would indicate her cycling is not weak. She has the legs to keep the power down on the bike and then she can run as fast as Rinny. I think Cait is going to surprise a lot of people this time out when she comes off the bike in striking distance with her killer run.
Mary Beth Ellis
First off, I think the flying away favorite for this year was going to be Mary Beth Ellis before she had another of her string of unfortunate incidents this year. The only thing more incredible than her luck is her ability. I bet she still finishes well with the new hardware in her collarbone just because she is frighteningly tough.
1. Seb Kienle
The man is an animal all around. He is so fast on the bike and is sure to lead and his performance in Vegas shows he is on track for the double this year. He would have fought for top position last year had he not flatted so I think he has been overlooked in how fast he has already shown he can go in Kona.
2. Eneko Llanos
The nicest guy in the Ironman ranks is having a super year. With ITU speed, and a strong pedigree of Ironman experience I think this year is his to have a top performance.
3. Andreas Raelert
Although it is cruel, Raelert has a pattern and this year is his year to be 3rd. He is a very consistent top performer so will be in the mix, but maybe he has found another gear or another level of madness to push for the win.
Pete Jacobs: Pete has raced fast at the 70.3 distance recently but has been having trouble staying healthy. Has the ability to win so depends on his health entirely.
Here are my predictions for top 3, in no particular order.
– Heather Wurtele
– Caroline Steffen
– Meredith Kessler
– Sebastian Kienle
– Andreas Raelert
– Craig Alexander
#1 Eneko Llanos
#2 Pete Jacobs
#3 Andreas Raelert
#1 Caroline Steffen
#2 Heather Wurtele
#3 Meredith Kessler
Stay tuned for some more predictions by Canadian Pros.