It’s half-distance heaven this weekend, with six races scheduled to take place around the globe. Europe is again the hub with the Ironman 70.3 European Championship being the centrepiece of the sextet of events.

Text By Laura Siddall | Lead Image By Aron, Preview Images By Various


Pedersen Chases The Euro Double

Last weekend we saw the European Triathlon Union (ETU) European Championships, Challenge Herning in Denmark. This weekend we return to Denmark for the Ironman 70.3 European Championships, in Elsinore.

It’s sure to be an exciting one with a quality field lining up.

(c) James Mitchell

Camilla Pedersen, won the ETU European Championships last weekend and will be looking for the Euro double this weekend, making the most of the home country advantage and all the Danish support on course.

(c) Getty

Fellow Dane, Helle Frederiksen will also be hoping to draw upon the home advantage. Frederiksen has struggled with injury over the past two years. In 2014 Frederisken won Challenge Bahrain and 5150 Hy-Vee, scooping up a nice little $100k for each of the wins.

(c) Aron

Watch out for yet another Dane, Maja Stage Nielsen who ran herself into third at Challenge Herning with a speedy split. She will be looking to reduce the time lost from the swim this week to ensure her run can put her right up on the podium again.

(c) Witsup

However there is a whole host of world-class athletes wanting to spoil the party. Aussie, Annabel Luxford is one of the best in the world and an incredibly consistent over the half distance. With a whole host of wins to her name, Luxford is coming off a second place at The Championships, being passed only in the last 1km.

One Brit who’s going to be interesting to watch is Sarah Lewis. Lewis had a fantastic race last weekend at Challenge Herning, finishing in fourth overall (third in the European Championship), only fading in the last part of the run. If she gets the pacing right this time, she’s a real chance to challenge near the front of the race.

Let’s also not forget the class of Kaisa Lehtonen (now Sali) and Anja Beranek also on the start line and more than capable of taking the win. Sali was second in Ironman South Africa with a sub three-hour marathon, so can definitely run! Beranek finished seventh at The Championship, and is probably stronger over the longer full iron distance, but is always another strong competitor when on the start line and did recently win Challenge Rimini (half).

We’ve long been waiting the return of classy competitor Angela Naeth. Naeth is down to race Ironman Frankfurt, but has struggled with injury for the past couple of years. If she’s fit and healthy she’s always dangerous and one to watch.

 Ironman 70.3 European Championship 2017 Start List

35 Beranek Anja DEU (GERMANY)
36 Sali Kaisa FIN (FINLAND)
37 Pedersen Camilla DNK (DENMARK)
38 Frederiksen Helle DNK (DENMARK)
39 Luxford Annabel AUS (AUSTRALIA)
41 Pallant Emma GBR (UNITED KINGDOM)
42 Seymour Natalie GBR (UNITED KINGDOM)
43 Czesnik Maria POL (POLAND)
44 Hector Alice GBR (UNITED KINGDOM)
45 Jerzyk Agnieszka POL (POLAND)
46 Ahlund Jessica SWE (SWEDEN)
47 Watkinson Amelia NZL (NEW ZEALAND)
48 Stienen Astrid DEU (GERMANY)
50 Stage Nielsen Maja DNK (DENMARK)
51 Thams Line DNK (DENMARK)
52 Wendorff Amanda USA (UNITED STATES)
53 Wiese Anna POL (POLAND)
54 Riesler Diana DEU (GERMANY)
55 Naeth Angela CAN (CANADA)

(Photo by Joern Pollex/Getty Images)

Philipp Aims At Four In A Row

The Challenge Family European series is well and truly underway, with Challenge Heilbronn taking place this weekend after two big Challenge Family events, The Championships and Challenge Herning (also the ETU European Championships), the previous two weekends.

Heilbronn, just 45-minutes north of Stuttgart in Southern Germany, looks like it’ll be just as fun an event with the race taking place right in the centre of the town, and the start list continues to impress with a great battle on paper likely to unfold.

Laura Philipp is the form half-distance athlete in Europe and chasing her fourth straight win. She comes off a solid victoey at Ironman 70.3 Kraichgau last weekend and also won Ironman 70.3 Mallorca and Ironman 70.3 St. Poelten in May.

(c) Joern Pollex/Getty Images

Yvonne Van Vlerken is a seasoned athlete and racer and finished second to Philipp last weekend, so will be looking to reverse the result, and finish back on that top spot.

(c) Finisherpix

However, Heather Wurtele will challenge them both. The Canadian who is in Europe for the summer focusing on the Challenge Series of races, recently finished third at The Championship, and is one of the best half-distance athletes in the world. She’ll be making it very difficult for the other women to claim that top spot and looks to be back to full fitness following a slight calf issue that effected her early season races.

Also stirring things up will be Asa Lundstrom, who races for Terrible Tuesdays Triathlon Club (sorry couldn’t resist putting that in as it just made me smile). Lundstrom finished eighth at the Ironman World Championships in 2016, and fourth just a few weeks later at Ironman Busselton and more recently fourth at Ironman 70.3 Pays d’Aix.

 Challenge Heilbronn 2017 Start List

BIB Surname First Name Team Nat
20 Philipp Laura Team Erdinger Alkoholfrei DEU
21 Vlerken Yvonne DEU
22 Sämmler Daniela Team Erdinger Alkoholfrei DEU
23 Lundström Åsa Terrible Tuesdays Triathlon Club SWE
24 Watkinson Annah ZAF
25 Wolff Katharina Tri-Team Heuchelberg DEU
26 Walter Verena Iserlohner Tri Team DEU
27 Wurtele Heather CAN
28 Badmann Natascha Toni Hasler Team CHE

(c) Stephen Pond/Getty Images

Charles Chases Another Win

Full credit must go to the Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire organisers, who have once again given the number-one bib to the women this year. All of the top-four finishers from 2016 return to do battle again.

Reigning champion Lucy Gossage will look to defend her title. Gossage, now back working as an Oncology doctor and balancing that with racing, is now just focusing on competing in the UK over the summer.

(c) Getty

Gossage is going to have a tough time defending though in what could be a great battle of the Brits.

The British women are dominating at the moment. There hasn’t been a weekend in the past few months where a British athlete is not on the podium and often it’s the top spot.

The athlete of the moment is Lucy Charles. She’s had an incredible few months of racing establishing herself as one of the best in the world currently, with wins at Challenge Salou, Ironman Lanzarote and probably her biggest win at The Challenge Family, The Championship.

If she decides to race, and has recovered well she will be the one to watch. Charles finished fourth at Staffordshire in 2016.

Another Brit showing great form this season is uber biker Kimberly Morrison, who finished second to Gossage in 2016. In pretty much every race Morrison posts the fastest bike split (often by 5-10minutes) and/or breaks the course record.

She stormed to the front of The Championship and rode away from very good bikers, showing just how strong her cycling is.

Charles should be first out the water and Morrison is likely to be first off the bike, and if she’s put enough damage in on the bike, could hold on, on the run to take the win.

Nikki Bartlett was third here in 2016, and has had some podium finishes already in 2017 and could be nudging for the podium again in 2017.

Hannah Drewett is probably not as well known as the other Brits in this field, but is another strong speedy swimmer and likely to be right up there with Charles. Drewett finished third at Weymouth 70.3 in 2016, and a foruth at the Bilboa Triathlon earlier this year.

A special mentioned to Claire Hann too. Claire having raced as an age-grouper for a few years now, has stepped up to the pro ranks and I wish her all the very best for Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire. (Note: I raced Claire in the 2013 ITU Worlds in London in my last race as an Age Grouper. I won, and Claire finished second in her what I think was her first year in the sport!)

American Laurel Wassner could very well spoil the Brit’s party though, as will be up at the pointy end for most of the day.

 Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire 2017 Start List

Surname First Name Nationality
1 Gossage Lucy GBR
2 Morrison Kimberley GBR
3 Bartlett Nikki GBR
4 Charles Lucy GBR
5 Brown Brooke CAN
6 Comber Kate GBR
7 Donegan Aine IRL
8 Drewett Hannah GBR
9 Hann Claire GBR
10 Nieuwoudt Magda ZAF
11 Wassner Laurel USA

Lauren Hopes To Make It Goss-Ta Rica

American Lauren Goss will head to Ironman 70.3 Costa Rica as favourite for the win, fresh off her victory at the Escape from Alcatraz race last weekend.

Whilst Alcatraz was reduced just the bike and the run, Goss will be wanting to show how strong she also is in the swim in Costa Rica.

She will have to be on her game for the swim with Dede Griesbauer on the start list too. Griesbauer recently won the 12-hour Time Trail World Championships, in a new world record, completing 258 miles. She also beat the men in the 12 hour race as well as the two person teams!

Griesbauer is also part of the very successful Julie Dibbens coaching group so will be wanting to continue the winning momentum. Griesbauer finished third at Ironman 70.3 Eagleman last weekend.

Leanda Cave is always one to watch when on a start list. Cave finished fourth at Ironman 70.3 Eagleman last weekend, just behind Griesbauer and will be hoping to turn the tables this week and move up onto the podium.

Ironman 70.3 Costa Rica 2017 Start List

16 Cave Leanda WPRO GBR
17 Goss Lauren WPRO USA
18 Griesbauer Dede WPRO USA
19 Cameto Sarah WPRO USA
20 Jahn Kirsty WPRO USA
21 Linnell Allison WPRO USA
22 O’Mara Kelly WPRO USA
23 Ramsey Lenny WPRO NLD
24 Tastets Pamela WPRO CHL

Speedy Cheetham Lines Up A Luxembourg Victory

For such a small country in the middle of Europe, the Luxembourg start list sure packs a punch also gives the women the number one bib.

Last years winner Natascha Schmitt will look to retain her title in her run up to racing Ironman Frankfurt in July.

Britain’s Susie Cheetham iscoming off the back of her maiden victory and sub nine-hour performance at the Ironman South American Championships in Brazil and will be hard to beat as she’s just as impressive over the half distance.

Corinne Abraham is getting better and better again with every race, and her 3:03 marathon in Lanzarotte, shows she pretty much back to her best.

 Ironman 70.3 Luxembourg 2017 Start List 

Bib number Last Name First name Age Group Nationality
1 Schmitt Natascha FPRO DEU (GERMANY)
2 Basso Anne FPRO FRA (FRANCE)
4 Bossow Franziska FPRO DEU (GERMANY)
5 Diawuoh Annabel FPRO DEU (GERMANY)
6 Donegan Aine FPRO IRL (IRELAND)
8 Grohmann Katharina FPRO DEU (GERMANY)
9 Schulz Jenny FPRO DEU (GERMANY)
11 Sanjana Francesca FPRO GBR (UNITED KINGDOM)
12 Tondeur Alexandra FPRO BEL (BELGIUM)
13 Abraham Corinne FPRO GBR (UNITED KINGDOM)
16 Konschak Katja FPRO DEU (GERMANY)

Chances Aplenty In Pescara

Kristin Moeller starts with the top bib number for this weekend’s Ironman 70.3 Pescara, but with her third place finish at Ironman Cairns last weekend, we are unsure whether she will be on the start line or not.

Tine Deckers will line up as one of the favourites. The five-time winner of Ironman France has had two solid fifth place finishes this year, (Ironman Texas and Ironman 70.3 Barcelona).

Amanda Wilson and Alexander Tondeur are also good chances to be in the mix.

 Ironman 70.3 Pescara 2017 Start List

BIB Surname First Name NATIONALITY
51 Möller Kristin DEU (GERMANY)
52 Donat Camille FRA (FRANCE)
53 Deckers Tine BEL (BELGIUM)
54 Noguera Anna ESP (SPAIN)
55 Jalowi Annett DEU (GERMANY)
56 Schulz Jenny DEU (GERMANY)
57 Jarvis Sarah DEU (GERMANY)
58 Tondeur Alexandra BEL (BELGIUM)
59 Lindholm Borg Camilla SWE (SWEDEN)
60 Huetthaler Lisa AUT (AUSTRIA)
61 Wilson Amanda AUS (AUSTRALIA)


About The Author

Rob Sheeley is the Race Editor for WITSUP

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