The Championship 2017 Preview Rob Sheeley June 2, 2017 Race Previews The Slovakian city of Samorin will provide the venue for the inaugural Challenge Family event known as The Championship this weekend. The race hub will centre around the incredible x-bionic Sphere, a location that has to be seen to be believed. Text By Rob Sheeley | Images By Witsup, Getty, Breakthrough Media, Delly Carr, James Mitchell, Finisherpix and Challenge Samorin A large start list with a plethora of quality athletes gives every indication that this race could be one to remember. (c) Finisherpix Heather Wurtele sits atop the list and will start as one of the favourites. The Canadian makes her much anticipated return after suffering a calf injury at Ironman 70.3 Oceanside. Wurtele amassed five half-distance wins in 2016 including Challenge Iceland and also finished third at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship. She has already notched up a win in 2017 with victory at Ironman 70.3 Campeche. Wurtele is as classy as they come and it would be no surprise to see her imposing figure on the top step post-race. (C) Delly Carr Annabel Luxford absolutely dominated the Australian half-distance circuit over the summer. She won Ironman 70.3 Western Sydney, Ironman 70.3 Ballarat, Ironman 70.3 Geelong and Challenge Melbourne. This will be the opportunity to see her pitted against some of the best in the world. Expect Luxford to be up near the front right from the first stroke of the swim. (c) Talbot Cox Ellie Salthouse has been a revelation since she moved to the half-distance. The Australian was recently third in a stacked field at the Ironman 70.3 North American Championships. Late last year she took out Challenge Shepparton and won her first half-distance race at Challenge Melbourne in 2016 as well. Salthouse is a genuine podium contender in any race, regardless of her opposition. Photo: Jim Fryer / BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com Emma Pallant is a model of consistency over this distance. Her recent results include a narrow win at Challenge Mogan Gran Canaria, where she claimed the scalp of none other than Daniela Ryf. She also took out Ironman 70.3 Barcelona again highlighting the fact that she is one of the best in the business over the half-distance. Pallant is armed with a devastating run-leg so anyone in front of her out of T2 will not be able to relax if the Brit is in pursuit. Radka Vodickova-Kahlefeldt has had a quieter start to the year by her standards but will be ready to come out firing here. The flying Czech can match it with anyone over this journey and will be one to watch on the weekend. Anja Beranek recently won Challenge Rimini and in 2016 was the Ironman 70.3 European champion. With a strong bike and solid swim/run, the German powerhouse is likely to be pushing for a podium. Laura Siddall makes her return to half-distance racing after winning Ironman Australia in Port Macquarie early last month. Siddall has plenty of miles in her legs having already raced three full-distance races in 2017 as well as finishing second to Annabel Luxford at Challenge Melbourne. She won her first half-distance event last year at Challenge Poznan before a string of second-placings leading up to her Australian victory. Look for Siddall to be big on the bike and carry that momentum onto the run. Lucy Charles is a one of the biggest improvers in the sport at the moment. Formerly noted for her swim, Charles proved that she is no one-trick pony at Ironman Lanzarote when she set new swim and bike course records en route to her maiden Ironman win. There is little doubt that she will lead out of the water and give them plenty to catch on the bike. When it comes to big biking, few can match it with another Brit, Kimberley Morrison. She took out Ironman 70.3 Texas earlier this year and will be sure to light up the Slovakian bike course. Others to keep an eye on include Natascha Schmitt, one of Europe’s more consistent athletes, Kirralee Seidel who placed behind Luxford on multiple occasions over the summer, Sara Loehr who won Challenge Salou last week and Rachel Klamer who makes the move from ITU to middle-distance racing. The Championship 2017 Start List 100 Heather Wurtele CAN 101 Anja Beranek GER 102 Annabel Luxford AUS 103 Ellie Salthouse AUS 105 Emma Pallant GBR 106 Radka Vodickova-Kahlefeldt CZE 107 Lucy Charles GBR 108 Rachel Klamer NED 109 Kimberley Morrison GBR 110 Laura Siddall GBR 111 Jen Annett CAN 115 Fabiola (Adriana) Corona MEX 117 Erika Csomor HUN 118 Maria Czesnik POL 119 Sara Dossena ITA 121 Syliva Gehnboek AUT 124 Corina Hengartner SUI 127 Paulina Kotfica POL 130 Sara Loehr (Munoz) ESP 131 Hannah Maksimava BLR 133 Kristina Nec Lapinova SVK 134 Ana Pais Santos POR 135 Romina Palacio Balena ARG 137 Vanessa Pereira POR 138 Daria Radczuk POL 139 Frankie Sanjana GBR 140 Jenny Schulz GER 141 Ulrike Schwable GER 142 Kirralee Seidel AUS 143 Sonja Skevin CRO 146 Judith Vaquera (Corachan) ESP 148 Dana Wagner GER 151 Katharina Wolf GER 153 Laura Zimmermann GER Natascha Schmitt GER Svenja Thoes GER Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName Email Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. 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