There might only be 26 pros registered to race, but that doesn’t mean the Ironman season opener in Pucon, Chile won’t be a competitive affair. While American Sam Long arrives as the favourite in the men’s race, he’ll have some stiff competition, while the women’s race promises to be an interesting race between a pair of Olympians – last year’s home-country champion (Barbara Riveros, who is after a seventh win in Pucon) and Brazil’s Pamella Oliveira.
There’s $25,000 up for grabs for the pro athletes, with $4,000 going to the champion.
The top five women in each age group will also be eligible for qualifying slots for the Ironman World Championship in Nice, France next September.
Long’s competition is most likely to come from local hero Martin Ulloa, the runner up at last year’s race, last year’s Ironman Brazil champion Luciano Taccone (ARG) and Canadian Matt Sharpe. With his Olympic short-course roots, Sharpe is likely to lead the way out of the water and will find himself trying to hold off the long-distance specialists from there on in.
The only time four-time Olympian Riveros (who also won the Pan Am Games triathlon in Toronto in 2015 – pictured above) hasn’t won this race when she started was in 2022 – that year she finished second to Brazil’s Luisa Baptista. Oliveira, a two-time Olympian, is renowned as a strong swimmer, so look for her to try and make a statement early and put some pressure on the Chilean favourite. Others to watch in the women’s race include Spain’s Marta Sanchez and American Brittany Higgins, who was third here last year.
World Championship Qualification
In addition to the age group qualifying slots (along with pro slots for the top two finishers), the race will also offer slots to the top five placed women in each age category for the Ironman World Championship Nice.
Unlike qualifying slots at full-distance races, though, the Nice slots don’t roll down.
There’s no live coverage of the event in Pucon, but you can follow the race through the Ironman tracker.