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Previewing the 8th Ironman 70.3 Port Macquarie

 Ironman 70.3 Port Macquarie

Sunday’s Ironman 70.3 Port Macquarie serves as the Australian Age Group Championship and offers 25 qualifying slots for the 2014 Ironman 70.3 World Championship 70.3 in Mont-Tremblant, Québec.

The race incorporates the Hastings River, Ocean Drive and a bike course adjacent to the Pacific Ocean, with the turnaround located at Lake Cathie.

The pros

Tim Van Berkel will need to hold off one of the best fields ever assembled at the eighth edition of this race if he hopes to secure a hometown win.

“Racing at home is always special and the crowd support really does give you and extra gear,” said Van Berkel.

The 2012 Ironman Australia champion Paul Ambrose provides the strongest threat to the title, along with Joseph Lampe – who finished fourth last year, South Australia’s Matty White, and veteran Ironman Jason Shortis who will try to end his pro career with a banner race.

Lisa Marangon leads the charge in the women’s race after recently changing coaches and a solid third place at Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast. She will face her stiffest challenge by Michelle Bremer and the strong running Michelle Wu.

Check out the pro list PDF.

A unique feature of this race is the Top Amateur Award – Michael Atkins Trophy. Each year this award is presented to the top amateur (age group) male and female competitor by Michael’s parents, Tony and Deb Atkins.

In 2001 at age 21 Michael Atkins was the Top Amateur competitor at the Forster Half Ironman with a time of 4 hours and 11 minutes. His magnificent effort included coming in 6th outright and beating 20 professional competitors on the day.

Michael was a member of the Concord Tri club and was known as the guy who was always first into the pool on the coldest mornings and the most encouraging of his fellow competitors (often as he lapped them).

When asked to speak at the award ceremony (as the age group winner) Michael simply thanked his coach and his parents, and told those who had finished the race they were all Ironmen.

Sadly, one week after that event Michael was killed when his bike left the track at the Sutherland cycle track.

Ironman Australia sanctioned the Top Amateur Award in memory of a great competitor and a great advocate of the sport of Triathlon.

Follow the race day coverage at Ironman.com