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What you need to know about the inaugural Ironman Middle East Championship in Israel

Israel hosts its first full-distance Ironman event

Photo by: Ingo Kutsche

Tomorrow we will see an impressive pro field on hand in Tiberias, Israel for the first Ironman Middle East Championship. Canadian Sylvan Adams (pictured above), the man who helped bring the opening of the 2018 Giro d’Italia to Israel and co-owner of the Israel Start-Up Nation World Tour cycling team, is the Honorary President of the Middle East Championship. In addition to the 75 age group slots on tap, the race offers three men’s and women’s pro qualifying slots for Kona, along with a US$100,000 prize purse.

The race starts and finishes in Tiberias, in northern Israel. The athletes do the 3.8 km swim in the Sea of Galilee, the lowest fresh-water lake in the world at 209 m below sea level. That’s followed by a two-loop, 180-km bike course (there’s a 70.3 race that runs the same day) that runs alongside the lake. The four-loop run course follows the western shore of the Sea of Galilee from Tiberias to Migdal.

Patrick Lange and Sebastian Kienle. Photo Ingo Kutsche

German world champions highlight the men’s race

After an impressive sixth-place finish at this year’s Ironman World Championship in Kona, Sebastian Kienle continues his two-year retirement tour with an appearance in Israel. He’ll be taking on the two-time Kona champ, Patrick Lange, who finished 10th in Kona and is no-doubt keen to prove that he’s fitter than that finish indicated. The two Germans, along with countryman Florian Angert and Denmark’s Daniel Baekkegard, are likely the main favourites for the race, but with 65 pros registered for the race, there’s lots of opportunity for some other players to be at the front of the race, including France’s Denis Chevrot, Sweden’s Jesper Svensson, Ironman rookie Miki Taagholt (Denmark) and yet another German, Boris Stein, are just a few of the names we could see contend for a top finish.

You can see the full pro list here.

Daniela Bleymehl at the pre-race press conference. Photo: Ingo Kutsche

Astle, Cheetham and Bleymehl highlight women’s field

After wins at Ironman South Africa and the Ironman European Championship in Frankfurt, Germany’s Daniela Bleymehl DNFd in Kona, so one would imagine she’ll be extremely motivated to have a big day in Israel tomorrow. Great Britain’s Ruth Astle finished Kona, but her 14th-place finish wasn’t likely what she was hoping for considering her fifth at the Ironman World Championship in St. George in May. Countrywoman Susie Cheetham took 11th in Kona (another of the recent moms who seems to be excelling of late – add Bleymehl to that list, too!), so look for her to be in the mix as well.

Great Britain’s India Lee will be interesting to watch in her Ironman debut, while Maja Stage-Nielsen is another athlete to keep an eye on, especially on the run if she can stay in contention.

You can see the full pro list here.


There’s no live coverage for the race in Israel, which starts at 6:15 AM local time, so you’re best bet for results will be through the Ironman tracker.