Olympic gold medalist Kristian Blummenfelt has already had quite a year, but he’s looking for even more as he gears up for his first full-distance effort this weekend at Ironman Cozumel. Unfortunately the race won’t be covered live (the Ironman African Championship will be covered live on Facebook Watch), but there will be live tracking of the race which starts at 7:15 AM local time on Sunday Nov. 21 (pro men) with the pro women heading off two minutes later.
After winning the gold medal in Tokyo, Blummenfelt made it clear that he wanted to take the Ironman World Championship as well. He had planned on competing at the Ironman European Championship in Frankfurt, but when the worlds in Kona were postponed to February (the race has since been postponed again and will now take place next May in St. George, Utah), Blummenfelt chose to focus on the World Triathlon Championship Series Grand Final in Edmonton, which he won, netting the world title to go along with his gold medal from Tokyo.
After a mechanical issue forced him out of the Ironman 70.3 World Championship, Blummenfelt has set his sights on his first Ironman, which he’ll embark on this weekend in Mexico. Last weekend Blummenfelt posted a video in which he can be seen doing a particularly tough run workout during an altitude training camp in Spain.
In the video, Blummenfelt’s coach Olav Aleksander Bu reiterates the goal for Blummenfelt to “take the world championship next year in Ironman.” The Norwegian already has an invitation to compete at the worlds in St. George next year, a win or a top finish in Cozumel would net him a spot for next October’s race in Kona.
The big question is whether or not Blummenfelt can top his countryman Gustav Iden’s debut time from Ironman Florida a couple of weeks ago – the two-time 70.3 world champ went 7:42:57, which is especially impressive because of the tough swim conditions that made the swim course appreciably slower.
Jason Pohl is the only Canadian man entered in the pro race. We profiled him earlier this year after his top finish at Ironman Coeur d’Alene earlier this year:
You can see the full pro list (men and women) competing at Ironman Cozumel here.
Australian super-cyclist Cam Wurf was forced out of the race in Florida due to sickness, so provided he’s back in good health he’ll certainly be one of the men most capable of stopping Blummenfelt from a debut victory. After spending much of the pandemic racing for the Ineos pro cycling team, Wurf proved he’s back in good triathlon form with a win at Ironman Copenhagen over Lionel Sanders in August.
Another potential winner this weekend is the man who won the race in Frankfurt this August, Patrik Nilsson. Austria’s Michael Weiss has won the race in Cozumel three times (2013, 2014 and 2018) and was second at the last event in 2019, so he’ll be wearing race number one on Sunday and will also be one to watch. Others to keep an eye on include Belgium’s Pieter Heemeryck, Switzerland’s Ruedi Wild and American Matt Russell.
Naeth and Annett part of competitive women’s field
While defending champion Carrie Lester is back, the Australian will face some stiff competition as she tries to take a second straight title in Cozumel. Lester typically excels on hillier courses – in 2019 she won Ironman France and Ironman Mont-Tremblant before taking the win in Cozumel, and this year she won Ironman Coeur d’Alene and the extremely tough full-distance race in Embrun – but she’s obviously fit and has proven she can win on the flat course in Cozumel, too.
Another former champion, Michelle Vesterby (she won the race in 2016) arrives in Mexico after a third-place finish at the World Triathlon Long Distance World Championships, where she went 8:38:53, proving she’s in great shape. She took Ironman Lanzarote earlier this year, so she’s already got a spot lined up for St. George next year, a top finish in Cozumel will nail her trip to Kona next October, which will provide more than enough motivation for the Dane to have another good race.
Aussie Sarah Crowley took sixth in Almere just a week after finishing fifth in Roth the week before. While she hasn’t had the kind of season we’re used to seeing from her, in addition to her many Ironman regional championship wins (Cairns, Frankfurt) and other Ironman titles, she’s a two-time Kona bronze medalist. (In other words, she shouldn’t be counted out, especially if the conditions are tough.)
Canadian hopes will be on Angela Naeth and Jen Annett. Naeth hasn’t finished a full-distance race this year as she’s coming back from sickness and injury. She’s spent two weeks in Cozumel gearing up for this weekend’s race, though, and appears ready to return to her usually form.
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Annett has had a challenging couple of years, but has returned to racing in a flurry with a fifth-place finish at Ironman Chattanooga and then took ninth at Ironman Florida. She’s packing a bunch of races into a short time – can she round out the season with another top performance?