In 48 hours the worlds greatest triathletes will vie for the title of Ironman World Champion and people like me will be glued to their laptops watching the drama unfold.
Although I am more “excited” to watch the women’s race at Kona, momentum from a much-hyped men’s race at 70.3 Worlds has carried over the the big island. The men’s race seems almost impossible to predict because of a ridiculously deep field.
Having said that, here is my shot at making the impossible, possible.
Ummmmmm Who? Yea, thought so. Think… anorexic Johnny Depp, ladies. Yep. I am going with this fleet-footed Spainard this year. Rana has had a solid 2014 season coming off his 6th place Kona finish last year. He has proven he can swim with the front pack and run with anyone. The problem last year was the bike as he gave up huge chunks of time to the top 5 at Kona. Encouraged by his legit bike split at Ironman Austria earlier this summer I believe he has what it takes to be the “2012 Pete Jacobs” of this year. Rana will lie in the weeds on the bike and then methodically make his way through the top 5 on the run. Thus, I am going with Rana for the W.
Kienle comes into Kona oddly enough with a big “?” What the heck happened to the defending 70.3 World Champ at Worlds last month? His shockingly lackluster 18th place finish have some wondering if this German freight train is battling injury or illness this late in the season. The consummate professional, Kienle made no excuses after 70.3 Worlds and has seemed calm and confident in Kona. I have no clue what kind of shape he is in but just can’t believe a guy with his ability and bike prowess is due 2 flops in a row. I predict Kienle “flips the flop” and snags second this year barely holding off a late charging Frodeno.
The dude rocks and is the “hot ticket” this year for the Kona win. He looked incredible at 70.3 Worlds last month and ran like Mercury earlier this year at IM Frankfurt after suffering 3 flats on the bike. Is that enough though? How seasoned does he feel at the iron distance AND his first go at it on the Big Island? If I wasn’t already going with Ryf (a Kona virgin) for the women’s victory I might have pulled the trigger on Frodeno taking the W. After all, some of my guy friends have a massive man-crush on the guy and I straight up worship the his run stride. He’s a freaking gazelle. Anyway…. Love the guy. Love his athleticism. Love what he does for the sport. Won’t win it this year. Frodo takes 3rd.
The defending champ. A heavy favorite again this year. Can he repeat? For sure. The guy has it all. He is calm, collected and his precision-like-approach is something everyone should aspire to. Really, there is nothing to not like about this guy and he doesn’t seem to have a weakness. Maybe its the underdog in me, but I am picking Van Lierde at 4th like I did Rinny. It is incredibly hard to repeat in Kona and I just believe 2 new champs will be crowned this year. If FVL does pull off the win I will stand and applaud. Love watching him race.
What does a race best marathon split in 2013 translate to for Mr. Aernouts this year? By most accounts the conditions in Kona last year were more “favorable” than usual. I think tougher conditions make this man’s weapon even more lethal on Saturday. Barring a repeat of his dismal 57:XX swim last year I predict a jump into the top 5 for this Belgian improving from his 8th place finish last year. However, if he pulls one out of his rear and swims a 53-54:XX you may see him set up for a top 3 finish. Past results say 5th. I will stick with that.