By The Crushing Iron Coach
For die hard triathletes this is the equivalent of Super Bowl week. All the hoopla and excitement culminates Saturday in Kailua Kona, Hawaii with the Ironman World Championships.
Triathletes all over the world will post up in front of their laptops to watch the world’s best compete.
Predicting the podium at Kona, and even the top 10 (OUT OF ORDER!) for that matter is a lot like filling out your bracket for the Final Four. Your chances are about zero.
Personally, I am more intrigued and excited to follow the women’s race this year than any other year in the past. If you have not taken the time to familiarize yourself with the contenders here is a little cheat sheet for Saturday and some bold predictions on finishing order.
Feel free to weigh in on your podium predictions with the #CrushingKona!
PREDICTION: THE TOP 10 WOMEN AT KONA
1. Daniela Ryf, 27 Switzerland @danielaryf
The 2014 70.3 World Champion. Daniela Ryf is still not a household name after taking the win at 70.3 Worlds last month but she will likely change all of that on Saturday. Ryf comes into Kona unbeaten this year and with the guidance and coaching of Bret Sutton she will be prepared both mentally and physically. With her ITU background she will be racing at the front as soon as the gun goes off. Winning on the Big Island on your first attempt is almost sacrilegious, until Chrissie Wellington did it. We all know how that turned out. Leanda Cave pulled off the 70.3/Kona double in 2012 and I think Ryf has all of the tools to pull off her own. Calm. Cool. Collected. I see Ryf taking her first of many Kona crowns on Saturday and a legend begins.
2. Jodie Swallow, 33, Great Britain @jodieswallow
Is this the year for Swallow? Coming off a 2nd place finish at 70.3 Worlds last month Jodie Swallow comes into Kona in excellent form. Im still not sure why she does not get more attention and maybe that has to due with her injury plagued 2013. Who knows? What I do know is the that you can bet she will be at the pointy end of the field All. Day. Long. I predict she will be leading the main pack on the bike for the majority of the day and will do the lion’s share of the work to put a large gap on the “runners” of the field. She is one of my favorite athletes to follow and I think she finally nails it in Kona coming in 2nd.
3. Leanda Cave, 36, Great Britain @leandacave
*Disclaimer– This pick is probably heart over head.
After an injury plagued 2013, Leanda Cave seems to be rounding into form at just the right time. She is coming off a solid win (validating her Kona spot) at Ironman Sweden and a very sharp looking win at Cozumel 70.3 in Kona-like conditions. She has proven she knows what it takes to crack the “Kona code” and I think she comes into this race with a chip on her shoulder. The video of her finishing Kona last year a disappointing 12th, stood out most to me. It was a long year for her and you could tell she hated not being at the top. I think she races with revenge on her mind and snags a podium spot at 3rd.
4. Mirinda Carfrae, 33, Australia @Mirindacarfrae
The defending champ with quite possibly the most beautiful run stride on the planet is the heavy favorite to repeat this year and although it wouldn’t shock me one bit if she ran her way through the field again this year, I have my doubts putting her a top the podium. She most likely will not make the first pack out of the water and thus miss the “freight train” out to Hawi. If the forecast holds it will be very hot and windy and possibly lonely for Rinny as she pushes to give up as little time as possible. She can probably afford to give up 10-14 minutes on the leaders but I dont think she cuts it this year. Rinny finishes just off the podium in 4th.
5. Heather Wurtele, 35, Canada @TeamWurtele
Full disclaimer, I have zero objectivity on this one. No one in the women’s field seems to conduct herself better on and off the course than this towering Canadian. She is talented and always races smart. In Kona, patience and intelligence can trump fitness and talent on the world’s biggest stage. Wurtele showed last month at 70.3 Worlds she can race with this best and sent a message with her excellent run split. Im not convinced this is her year to crack the top 3 BUT she will be prepared, race smart and I hope she rounds out the top 5. There is nothing to not like about this pro so do yourself a favor and pull for her on Saturday. I know I will.
6. Rachel Joyce, 36, Great Britain @RJoyce09
7. Meredith Kessler, 36, USA @mbkessler
8. Corinne Abraham, 37, Great Britain @CorinneAbraham
9. Caroline Steffen, 36, Switzerland @Caroline_Xena
10. Liz Blatchford, 34, Great Britain @Liz_Blatchford