Howdy Y’all! This is Texas! If you think the US generally supersizes everything, well then add more again and you have Texas. Everything is BIG! The state itself takes as long to drive across as 10 states from Maine to North Carolina. It is full of cowboy hats and country music (this may be a myth but never let the truth get in the way of a good story). It’s also known as the Friendliest State, that is until someone messes with a Texan – you don’t want to feel the wrath of a Texan. And this weekend Galveston hosts the Ironman 70.3 Texas event with some BIG names on the start line.

The race is actually situated on Galveston Island, just off the Gulf Coast of Texas. The race course stays entirely on the island, with a one lap swim off the white sand of Palm Beach, the bike that runs out pretty much the length of the island and back, and a three laps run course.

The start list has a BIG 29 professional women lining up, with some BIG hitters coming out to play.

Coming off the back of her win in the Latin American Championships, Helle Frederiksen will be looking to claim another title for the year, and will be tough to beat in current form. It’s hard to find any weakness in her arsenal right now – she will be near the front all day.

Last years’ runner up, and 2013 Champion, Emma-Kate Lidbury lines up as one of the favourites surely looking to reclaim that spot on top of the podium. Following a fourth in Ironman 70.3 Monterrey, Lidbury has the experience and ability to be up there at the front. However Lidbury will have her work cut out with the caliber of women racing.

(c) Sue Hutter

(c) Sue Hutter

Kelly Williamson, is also no stranger to this course, winning here in 2012, and second in 2013 she’ll be looking for a return to winning ways on the course for 2015.

Sarah Piampiano – Little Red Racing – after most of the year off through injury in 2014 (a broken leg) has had a great start getting back to form, second in Monterrey, eighth in Oceanside and then putting in an impressive performance at Ironman 70.3 New Orleans, last weekend to win. Piampiano also raced the ‘back to back double’ in 2014 and is looking forward to heading back to Galveston again. “I raced/am racing both NOLA and Galveston for what they are – races.” Piampiano said. “They are part of my build into Ironman Texas, but I’m going into both focused on each race individually with a give ’em everything mentality. Once Galveston is over I’ll start thinking about Texas. Galveston will be a great race this year as the field is deep and everyone has different strengths so I think it will play out to be an exciting and fun day of racing. I’m certainly preparing myself mentally for it to be a tough and close race.”

Witsup Ambassador, Bek Keat after suffering in the intense conditions and heat in the recent Ironman 70.3 Putrajaya, will be looking to bounce back to her usual strong performances and challenging for the top places.

NaethAngela Naeth is another woman not to look past as she’s one of the strongest bikers around. Having missed qualification for Kona in 2014 by just one spot, she finished the year in style with winning Ironman Chattanooga and then showing great form for a fifth at Challenge Bahrain. Naeth has started 2015 well too finishing third at Ironman 70.3 Monterey  and fifth at Ironman 70.3 Oceanside, where she posted the second fastest bike (only 40 seconds off the fastest) but Naeth’s included a five minute penalty (having caught some of the back of the men’s race it appears to have caused some issues once again for the women – see here).

Lauren Barnett is using Galveston to kick of her season. With a later start to her year than many, Barnett is looking to ensure she’s in form at worlds this year. “That’s my ultimate goal – racing at my best in Austria (Ironman 70.3 World Championships)” Barnett said. Barnett had a stella season in 2014 in her first full year as a professional, with wins at Ironman 70.3 Augusta and Ironman 70.3 New Orleans plus thirds at Ironman 70.3 Kansas, Ironman 70.3 Buffalo Springs Lake, and Ironman 70.3 Racine. Barnett also juggles working full time with training and racing. “I love this race because so many people that I know from Dallas and Fort Worth head down for it and it makes it so fun to see many of the familiar faces I know out there pushing through the pain on the course – all together” Barnett said. “It also suits me well with typically hot, humid, and windy conditions. It’s drawing out a very competitive, talented group of women and I’m looking forward to lining up with such talent, and many who have become friends along the journey.”

Along with Keat, Rebecca Preston will be flying the Aussie flag amongst mainly the Americans. Now back with coach Brett Sutton, with the goal of finishing her career with an Ironman win (she won her debut pro Ironman, and has four Ironman titles to her name), she’ll be hoping to start her campaign for that win in good form here.

Fast Facts about Texas:

  1. Texas is popularly known as The Lone Star State.
  2. More wool comes from the state of Texas than any other state in the United States.
  3. Texas is home to Dell and Compaq computers and central Texas is often referred to as the Silicon Valley of the south.
  4. Texas comes from the Hasinai Indian word tejas meaning friends or allies.
  5. The armadillo is the official state mammal.
  6. The worst natural disaster in US history was caused by a hurricane that hit Galveston in 1900. Over 8000 deaths were recorded.
  7. More land is farmed in Texas than any other state.
  8. The state’s cattle population is estimated to be near 16million.
  9. Amarillo has the worlds largest helium well.

(Ref: www.50states.com/facts)

Start list as per Tuesday 21st April (www.ironman.com)

45

Emma-Kate Lidbury GBR (United Kingdom)

46

Helle Frederiksen DNK (Denmark)

47

Rebekah Keat AUS (Australia)

48

Sarah Piampiano USA (United States)

49

Kelly Williamson USA (United States)

50

Angela Naeth CAN (Canada)

51

Sara Gross CAN (Canada)

52

Lauren Barnett USA (United States)

53

Lauren Brandon USA (United States)

54

Lauren Goss USA (United States)

56

Beth Shutt USA (United States)

57

Maggie Rusch USA (United States)

58

Tami Ritchie USA (United States)

59

Palmira Alvarez MEX (Mexico)

60

Kaitlin Anelauskas USA (United States)

61

Brianna Baird USA (United States)

63

Sarah Cameto USA (United States)

64

Carly Johann USA (United States)

65

Kathy Rakel USA (United States)

66

Rebecca Preston AUS (Australia)

67

Jessica Meyers USA (United States)

68

Amelia McCracken USA (United States)

69

Sarah Graves USA (United States)

70

Alice Hector GBR (United Kingdom)

71

Bailey Hinz USA (United States)

72

Christina Jackson USA (United States)

73

Leslie LaMacchia USA (United States)

74

Kate Bruck USA (United States)

Text by Laura Siddall – Follow Laura on Twitter

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