The inaugural Ironman Tulsa event was supposed to take place last year – the race generated lots of excitement because it was the first new Ironman race in the United States since Ironman Chattanooga made its debut in 2014. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed that first race by a year, but it would appear that things are set to go for this year. And, based on a report from Thorsten Radde on TriRating.com, there should be some big names on hand for the event, which serves as the Ironman North American Championship.
As a regional championship the race will have a total of six pro qualifying slots for Kona – two for the men, two for the women and two more to be designated based on the size of the men’s and women’s fields. There will be US$150,000 in prize money. Pro entry closes on May 3.
The race will also offer 75 age group slots for the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii in October.
Headlining the field is four-time Ironman World Champion Daniela Ryf, who made a similar trek over to the US in 2019 to take the North American Championship when it was held in Texas. The last time we saw Ryf compete in a full-distance race was her uncharacteristic off day in Kona in 2019, so one can be sure she’ll be 1) super fit and 2) super motivated on the start line in Tulsa. The list of potential challengers to the Swiss star is impressive – Kona podium finisher and multiple Ironman champ Heather Jackson (USA), up-and-coming star Laura Philipp (GER) (fourth in Kona in 2019) and 2019 Ironman European champ Skye Moench (USA) are the most likely fellow podium contenders. Athletes like Canada’s own Angela Naeth, American super-swimmer Lauren Brandon, Denmark’s Michelle Vesterby and Britain’s Ruth Astle and Katrina Matthews could very well picture in the mix as well.
Sweden’s Patrik Nilsson is back to try and defend his North American title, and will face an equally as intimidating group of challengers. Belgium’s Bart Aernoets is a multiple-Ironman champ, has been a runner-up in Kona and won Challenge Roth, so he could certainly be one to watch. Antony Costes (FRA) has been on fire over the winter on the Zwift Pro Tri Series, so he will be arriving in Tulsa in top shape, too. Some fast Europeans who might not be as familiar here in North America, but will certainly be ones to watch, are Germany’s Andreas Dreitz and Florian Angert, along with Denmark’s Kristian Hogenhaug. Another athlete to keep an eye on is Mexico’s Mauricio Mendez Cruz, the youngest Xterra world champ ever.
Early entry lists aren’t typically particularly accurate when it comes to Ironman race fields, so we’ll have to wait until we get closer to race day to truly know who will be competing in Tulsa.