Alistair Brownlee gears up for first Ironman in Ireland

The long-awaited full-distance debut for two-time Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee is coming this weekend at Ironman Ireland.

| June 20, 2019 | NEWS

Alistair Brownlee on the run on his way to a silver medal at last year\'s Ironman 70.3 World Championship in South Africa.

Alistair Brownlee on the run on his way to a silver medal at last year's Ironman 70.3 World Championship in South Africa.

Photo >Silke Insel/ Spomedis

All eyes will be on Alistair Brownlee this weekend as he makes his debut over the full-distance at Ironman Ireland in the ancient 5th century town of Youghal, in the heart of the popular Cork region. 

The two-time Olympic gold medalist blasted through his first half-distance race in 2017 when he took the Ironman 70.3 North America Pro Championship in St. George, Utah, besting Lionel Sanders and Sebastian Kienle in the process. Brownlee finished second last year to Jan Frodeno at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in South Africa, one spot ahead of another legend, Javier Gomez, in what many consider to be one of the greatest long-distance races ever.

It's interesting that Brownlee is making his full-distance debut at a time when he seemed to be hedging his bets for an Olympic birth in Tokyo next year. After missing much of the early season due to injury, Brownlee bounced back with an ITU World Cup win in Cagliari and followed that up with his fourth European title in the Netherlands. He was in the mix at the ITU WTS race in Leeds early in the run, but would fade and finish a distant 44th.

Brownlee's main competition in Ireland is likely to come from the ageless Marino Vanhoenacker (BEL), who has been in Ireland training for a few weeks and appears ready for a big day. Spain's Victor Del Corral could also be a factor if he can stay close enough on the bike to unleash one of his speedy run splits, but one would imagine that with two speedy cyclists like Vanhoenacker and Brownlee set to mix it up through the Cork countryside Del Corral will find himself well back into T2. Others to watch include Jeremy Jurkiewicz from France and Brazil's Igor Amorelli.

Corbin highlights the women's field

American Linsey Corbin arrives in Ireland as the women's favorite. Germany's Anja Ippach and Switzerland's Emma Bilham appear to be the most likely candidates to push the American to the line.