Oceanside 70.3 women’s field features higher “Strength of Field” score than the men’s
A stacked field is set to line up in California on SaturdayPhoto by: Canyon
There’s been lots of hype about Jan Frodeno’s return to racing at Ironman 70.3 Oceanside this weekend, but that shouldn’t overshadow the stellar women’s race we’re likely to see on Saturday. The Professional Triathletes Organisation’s Strength of Field (SOF) score for the women’s race is 87.5 for the women, while it’s 84.8 for the men’s field. (Yes, we know that’s probably skewed a bit because Frodeno has no ranking right now, but the bottom line is there’s a stacked women’s field set to race – you can see the full start list here.)
Sodaro’s first race as defending Ironman World Champion
American Chelsea Sodaro surprised many with her huge win in Kona last year, but that performance shouldn’t have been a surprise. She was impressive with her runner-up finish at Ironman Hamburg in her Ironman debut, and took third at the PTO Canadian Open a few weeks later. And that’s all when daughter Skylar was just over a year old.
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Sodaro rounded into top form for Kona, running her way to a brilliant win in her first appearance on the Big Island. The key for the American to take the win on the weekend will be how close she is off the bike – her All-American running background makes her a real threat if she’s within striking distance of the lead in T2.
Former champions look for another title
The two women most likely to have opened up a gap on Sodaro starting the run have both won in Oceanside before – Canada’s Paula Findlay (2021) and Great Britain’s Holly Lawrence (2017). Lawrence is typically one of the fastest swimmers at any race she enters, and is also very strong on the bike. She loves the “home-town” Oceanside course, too – she’s finished on the podium at this race five times, and was fourth on another occasion.
Findlay’s last two races included a runner-up finish at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship and a win at Ironman 70.3 Indian Wells-La Quinta. Triathlon fans have seen just how impressive Findlay can be when she’s in form – she’ll definitely be one to watch.
Matthews comeback begins
Kat Matthews would have headed into Kona as one of the pre-race favourites last year, but wasn’t able to race after getting hit by a car while training in Texas last September.
Ironman favourite Kat Matthews hit by car while training in Texas
Before the accident Matthews had enjoyed a stellar 2022 including a win over Anne Haug at Ironman 70.3 Lanzarote, a runner-up finish at the Ironman World Championship in St. George, the win at the Sub8 project and another 70.3 win in Swansea. One would imagine it will take a bit of time for Matthews to return to that kind of form again, but it’s not a stretch to imagine she could be in the mix this weekend.
As good as Sodaro might be on the run, Tamara Jewett is likely the fastest women’s runner over the half-distance right now. The Canadian’s swimming and biking continue to improve, so look for her to be a threat if she can come off the bike reasonably close. Australian Grace Thek won Ironman 70.3 Geelong last weekend, and took Challenge Wanaka earlier this year.
The race will be featured on Outside TV, with the pros starting at 6:40 local time (9:40 am EST).