Ellis smashing it out at Ironman France


Not only is it the North American Ironman Championships, which attracts those wanting the title and the prize purse attached, but it is also one of the last stop saloons for those wanting to still qualify for Kona. As it’s a P-4000 race, this is the opportune race for those wanting to qualify. In fact the points allocated down to seventh place (2080 for 7th) are still higher than a win at a P-2000 Ironman event, such as Ironman Sweden (2000 for the win) and Ironman Copenhagen a P-1000 race (1000 for the win).

As a bit of a side note. Is having a championship race eight weeks out from Kona a bit rough on those who want to knuckle down and focus on a training block for Kona, especially those who have already qualified? Mary Beth Ellis is the perfect example as she defends her US Championship title. Food for thought.

The likes of Charisa Wernick, who raced at Ironman Switzerland and just missed out on qualifying by 40 points, won’t be looking to get points during this second round, and Stephanie Jones (finished 40th) is another who has stated that she won’t be chasing Kona, so the people who we’ve highlighted below, have indicated that they are looking to qualify for the World Championships from this event.

So with all that said, there are a few races within this race. Mary Beth Ellis, who has had another monster past 12 months with a win, including a course record at Ironman France, a win at Ironman Cozumel, late 2012, a win at Ironman Florida 70.3 (course record) and  this year will be racing to defend her US Ironman Championship title from last year, where she won in New York. With this year’s results and a fifth in Hawaii last year, she qualified in fourth place this year. This woman, we continually say, is one of the toughest athletes out there. In fact at Ironman France she crashed her bike, and still broke the course record. Plus, every Ironman, outside of Kona, that she has lined up for, she has always won. She broke the course record at Ironman Austria in 2011 – her debut Ironman event. She goes into this race as the favourite. She’s a tough one to beat.



Keat at her last Ironman appearance – Ironman Western Australia

Ambassador, Rebekah Keat is gunning for points at this race, enough to get her to the start line in Hawaii. Although keeping it on the down low, even in our Q&A with her, saying she is focused on this race, the decision to race here is with Kona in her mind. Keat has been quiet this year in general in terms of racing due to a few niggles, but she likes to race prepared, and with work on the bike, you can be certain that she’ll be at the pointy end of the field.

Fellow Australia (ignore the GBR next to her name, she is an Australian), Liz Blatchford will be taking on her second Ironman event. Debuting with a win at Ironman Cairns, Blatchford told us here that her preparation for this event has been “waaaay better” and she is hoping to better her performance in Cairns, and also secure those much needed points to go to Kona. Originally she wasn’t out to chase points for the World Championships, but had a change of heart. If she’s improved on her great racing in Cairns, she’ll be out near the front for the most part of the day. With her ITU experience and speed through the water, she’ll be close to the first one out of the drink, and it will all depend on how much work she has put into her cycling, because we know she can run.


Blatchford seconds after her Ironman Cairns win

Sarah Piampiano had a great race at Ironman Austria seven weeks ago, and nailed the fastest marathon split with a 3:02 and change, to her name. She will also be duking it out for points to get to Hawaii. Expect to see her at the pointy end of this field. Speaking of Austria, Erika Csomor won there breaking the nine hour marker – strong across all three disciplines. Csomor has already qualified to toe the line in Kona, so won’t be racing for those points, but this woman loves to race, and is a consistent podium finisher.

Anja Beranek scored a win at Ironman Switzerland just three weeks prior to this race which gave her 2000 points, but still leaves her probably too low on the list to qualify. Unless she wins, which is the only real way that she’d be close to qualifying you’d imagine. Regardless of points though, this is a championship race, and there’s dollars up for grabs, and this woman can race well. It will just depend on how she can back up, three weeks later.


Piampiano at Ironman Melbourne this year

Jennie Hanson, who finished just behind Keat in the ranking has had a busy year with three Ironman events in the qualifying season. Hansen can run very well, can ride pretty well too, but will be chasing out of the water from the get go. Her first win came at Ironman Lake Placid in July this year.

Bree Wee recently came second to Caroline Steffen at the Ironman 70.3 Philippines, breaking the 1:30 barrier on the half marathon, something she hasn’t done in a few years. Wee can swim and bike well, and has shaken any inkling of a running injury that she showed at Ironman Western Australia last year. She can definitely make it into the top seven and hopefully grab those points to be able to race in her backyard in Hawaii.

So, with quite a few different things at stake, let’s see how this race unfolds on Sunday morning.


Start list with points for Kona and possible qualifiers:

Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 6.39.59 PM


Photos by Delly Carr and WITSUP

About The Author

Stef Hanson. Chief.

Chief and founder of WITSUP Serious about what I do, but don't take myself too seriously

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