The Heat Is On For St George 70.3 Stef Hanson. Chief. April 30, 2014 Race Previews This weekend’s main attraction is the second edition of the Ironman 70.3 St George – US Pro Championship. Between the chance for earning a national title, a shot at the $75,000 prize purse and amassing a good chunk of KPR points, St. George has drawn a highly competitive field. Meredith Kessler returns as the defending champion and she will not be relinquishing her US Pro title easily. She has already successfully defended her Ironman New Zealand title in March of this year and backed that up just two weeks later with a solid third place at Ironman 70.3 California (Oceanside). Kessler was a powerhouse here last year in tough conditions, with tough competition. Another in-form athlete who is no stranger to the St. George course is Heather Wurtele. Living the RV-lifestyle has afforded Wurtele and her husband, Trevor, the opportunity to train on the St. George course for the last several weeks. The Canadian athlete delivered a fantastic performance at Oceanside to run away with the win (race best 1:17 run) in course record time and she’ll be hoping to improve upon last year’s third place finish in St. George. British athletes, Julie Dibens and Jodie Swallow are likely to be in the mix from the gun. Dibens, the 2009 70.3 and Xterra World Champion celebrated her return to racing after a two year injury hiatus at last month’s Oceanside race. Coming off the bike in first place underscored her world-class swim-bike abilities but in an era where “1:17 is the new black”** on the run, she’ll be hard-pressed to hold off some of the fleet-footed women. Swallow is another 70.3 World Champion (2010) who is renowned for racing from the front but also could struggle to hold off the race’s best runners. The third British athlete competing in St. George on Saturday is last year’s ninth place finisher, Emma-Kate Lidbury, fresh off her second place at Ironman 70.3 Texas in April. Rachel Joyce was another of the Brits who was signed up to race, but unfortunately has had to pull the pin on starting –> check out her website for her update on what’s what. Fortunately for the WITSUP team, Joyce will be our woman on the ground, keeping the world up to date on what’s happening in one of the biggest races the calendar has seen. Challenging Meredith Kessler for the US Pro title will be fellow Americans Mary-Beth Ellis, Linsey Corbin, and Sarah Piampiano, all of whom have shown solid form during early-season racing. Ellis placed second at the Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship, Melbourne, Corbin earned top honours as the Ironman Los Cabos 2014 champion and Piampiano is three-for-three in podium appearances in 70.3 racing in 2014. Sarah Haskins recently announced that she wouldn’t be racing which is a shame as she was our pick for the dark horse of the race, not having the long course track record of her competitors. However, there is little doubt about her short-course speed and form in 2014, after taking time off from racing in 2013 to give birth to her daughter, Caroline. The 2008 US Olympian has scored four victories so far this year with the latest coming this past weekend at the St. Anthony’s triathlon in Florida. St. George would have marked her debut at the 70.3 distance – we will just have to wait. Other potential challengers include Canadians Angela Naeth and Melanie McQuaid, Australian and WITSUP ambassador, Rebekah Keat and Americans Amy Marsh and Lisa Ribes. ** At a recent track training session, Meredith Kessler declared to me that “1:17 is the new black!” in reference to the run speed required to be competitive at the 70.3 distance these days. A special shout out to contributor Jordan Blanco who will be racing on the weekend as well! ~ Chief. Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName Email Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.