The women’s field seems to be a bit top-heavy compared to the men’s. For what it’s worth, out of the 50 professionals in the men’s field, there were only two names I’d never seen before. On the women’s side, 10 out of 30 were new to me. That said, it’s still an extremely strong field.
Here’s the breakdown by country of the 30 women’s pros who made the cut:
UK, New Zealand: 3
Australia, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands: 2
Belgium, Canada, Hungary, Sweden: 1
As I did with the men’s preview, here’s a little recent Kona history:
In 2007 a then unknown British triathlete named Chrissie Wellington shocked the triathlon world by storming to a Kona victory. From that point on she was virtually invincible, winning everything in her path including four Kona titles. A few months after winning her 4th in 2011, she shocked the triathlon world once again by announcing her retirement. This opened the door of opportunity in a big way for the rest of the field. Leanda Cave continued the UK dominance last year, claiming both the Ironman and Ironman 70.3 crowns. Leanda is back, but she’s had difficulty repeating her successes from a year ago. Australia’s Mirinda Carfrae took advantage of Chrissie not racing in 2010 due to a severe illness, but she too has been a bit down by her standards of late. In short, this should be an exciting, wide open race!
Heather Wurtele (Canada): 4x Ironman Champion and First Endurance athlete lives the simple life with her pro triathlete husband, bouncing around North America living and training out of an RV. Has finished 8th and 14th the last two years.
Linsey Corbin (USA): 3x Ironman Champion has a career-best Kona finish of 5th. Known for her running prowess, my sources tell me she’s also one of the hotter girls in the field.
Gina Crawford (New Zealand): 5x Ironman Champion in addition to many other big wins. From my vantage point as a race volunteer, I watched her win Ironman Wisconsin in 2007. Has a 2-year old son and is a violinist in the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra in her spare time. She’s also overcome some major health issues, and I’d be happy to see her win.
My prediction for the women’s podium:
Mary Beth Ellis (USA): pocket rocket is a perfect 8 for 8 in Ironman races excluding last year in Kona, where she finished 5th. In the last two years she’s won Ironman Texas, New York, Cozumel, and France, in addition to recently crushing the field at the North American Championships at Ironman Mont Tremblant. I expect her to take care of business in her 2nd attempt at Kona. As a side note, an American woman hasn’t won Kona since 1995.
Caroline Steffen (Switzerland): this ain’t the Swiss Miss from the hot chocolate packets…the ripped chick they call Xena has been close on multiple occasions, placing 2nd in 2010 and 2012. I think she’ll have a great race but come up a little short once again.
Mirinda Carfrae (Australia): pocket rocket 2.0 from Down Under and the 2010 champion has been less dominant the last few years. She’s an amazing runner though, and I expect she’ll sneak her way on to the podium in the final 5k.
Follow live coverage of the race Saturday, Oct. 12th on ironman.com!