Saturday, October 3, 2015

Kona Preview & Predictions 2015 - Women's Race

At Ironman and Ironman 70.3 races throughout the year, pros compete for prize money as well as pre-determined points based on placing. The top 30 women on the 2015 points list have earned a spot on next week's start line (in addition to a few automatic qualifiers).

Here’s the breakdown by country of the women pros who made the cut:

USA: 11
UK: 5
Australia: 5
Germany: 4
Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, Switzerland: 2
Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Sweden, Taiwan: 1

Mirinda Carfrae is tough as nails

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 in 2012, claiming both the Ironman and Ironman 70.3 crowns. Australia’s Mirinda Carfrae took advantage of Chrissie not racing in 2010 due to illness, then proved that performance was no fluke the past two years, breaking Chrissie's course record along the way. Last year she got off the bike facing a ~14 minute deficit, yet ran a 2:50 marathon (only 4 men pros ran a faster split) to win by 2 minutes over Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf. Britain’s Rachel Joyce rounded out the podium a mere 90 seconds later.

The women’s field is as strong as it's ever been this year, and should be a great race!

Rachel Joyce

Who I’d like to see win:

Angela Naeth at IM Texas
Rachel Joyce (UK): lawyer turned pro triathlete has been close the last two years with a 2nd and 3rd. Is potentially the only contender in the field able to ride within shouting distance of Ryf, with only 2 min separating their bike splits last year. I met her at a race this season and, since I’d done the race before, she was asking me for advice… ridiculous, of course, but at the same time shows you how cool and humble she is despite being one of the best in the world.

Heather Wurtele (Canada): 6x Ironman Champion took 2nd at the 70.3 Championships last month (to Ryf) after 3rd at the same race in 2014. Despite her Ironman wins, has historically struggled at Kona, including a 15th place finish last year. Once again I’m a little biased here, as I met her and her husband Trevor a few months ago. She’s awesome... would love to see her have a breakthrough performance.

Angela Naeth (Canada): I know she didn’t race at Kona last year, and I believe this is her debut on the big island. She had a huge win against a stacked field this year at Ironman Texas, yet still comes in flying a bit under the radar. It would be cool to see someone outside of the perennial favorites such as her make some noise in her first attempt.

Daniela Ryf, the consensus favorite
My prediction for the women’s podium:

Daniela Ryf (Switzerland): a dominating performance at the 70.3 World Championships last month proved to many that she is the one to beat. Her bike is a weapon sure to do major damage to the rest of the field, and her improved run should be enough to hold off Carfrae and other challengers this year.

Melissa Hauschildt
Mirinda Carfrae (Australia): in my opinion the 2x defending champion will come up just short this year. It turns out she is human afterall… I watched her place 8th at the North American 70.3 Championships in May, almost 10 min back of winner Heather Wurtele. That said, Carfrae is known for managing her seasons very well to ensure she’s in peak form for Kona. I expect her to push slightly harder than her limits on the bike in order to minimize the deficit to Ryf, but that that effort will impact her run just enough to give Ryf the win.

Melissa Hauschildt (Australia): mediocre swimmer but stellar bike/run combo have made her virtually unbeatable when healthy in the past. Injuries have often held her back in her career, including last year at Kona where she was not able to race. Assuming she is good to go, I believe she could sneak her way onto the podium.

Should be an incredibly entertaining race! Follow live coverage Saturday October 10th on

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