The post-Kona race calendar includes some interesting characters. A look at the Ironman Arizona and Ironman Cozumel race fields.
October 25, 2017 | NEWS|
It doesn't look like we'll see another Sebastian Kienle / Lionel Sanders showdown in 2017 - the German appears on the entry list for Ironman Cozumel, while the Canadian looks to be making a return to Arizona next month.
It's always fun to have a look at the start lists for the Ironman events on the calendar after Kona as athletes look to start the qualifying process for next year's race. (And even more fun trying to figure out who will actually end up at the race - as you'll see from the entry lists below, many pros are entered in both races!)
Both Sanders and Kienle hardly have to worry about earning enough points to be back on the start line next year (and Kienle, as the 2014 champion, just has to finish an Ironman to validate his spot on the start list), but both are likely looking to get their Ironman commitment out of the way to give them more options in 2018.
Sanders has spoken quite openly about the fact that he felt his focus on shorter races for much of 2018 allowed him to arrive in Kona fresh and ready to go for the title. His runner-up finish certainly attests to the success of that plan.
Racing in Cozumel will open up some other options for Kienle in 2018. He's the three-time winnter of the Ironman European Championship in Frankfurt, but could enjoy some additional bargaining power when it comes to negotiating where he'll race in 2018, if he does at all. Might we see Kienle take on the Challenge Roth course next July?
Last year Sanders set what was, for about eight months, the fastest men's time ever for an Ironman race when he took the Arizona title in 7:44:29. Fellow Canadian Brent McMahon was second in that race, adding yet another sub-eight-hour performance to his resume with a 7:50 clocking. McMahon had to pull out in Kona on the bike after suffering from a jelly-fish sting.
The women's race could turn into a fun battle between Heather Jackson, Michelle Vesterby and Kaisa Sali. Jackson had another fantastic day in Kona, finishing fourth (she's finished fifth, third and fourth over the last three years). Vesterby, uncharacteristically, had a tough day in Kona after a few years of solid performances on the Big Island and looks to get back on track in Tempe. Earlier this year Vesterby had set her sights on a fast time at Ironman Austria - will she get her wish and set a new Danish full-distance record? Sali repeated her fifth-place finish in Kona this year and is obviously fit. Other names to add to the mix include Sarah Piampiano and possibly Kelly Williamson and Angela Naeth - they are entered in both Arizona and Cozumel.
It's hard to imagine that Kienle, if he's recovered at all from his efforts in Kona, will have much difficulty taking the Cozumel title. It is interesting to see Matt Russell's name on the start list, but one would imagine that the American will still be recovering from his horrific crash on the Big Island and isn't likely to race.
The women's race has all kinds of potential. Germany's Anja Beranek looks to be starting her Kona 2018 quest early, as does country-woman Sonja Tajsich. Vesterby's name is down for Cozumel, too, but she has said she'll be aiming for Arizona. Alicia Kaye will certainly be one to keep an eye on - she and Olympian-husband Jarrod Shoemaker are both on the start list for Cozumel. Super-biker Rachel McBride will no doubt look to blast through Cozumel's flat bike course on her Diamondback Andean.
Another athlete entered in both races might be looking to make her Ironman debut this fall - Helle Frederiksen. The Dane finished second at the ITU Long Distance World Championship earlier this year, finishing second to Sarah Crowley and completing the longest run of her life in the process. The holder of the fastest half-distance time ever is brimming with potential over the full-distance.
2017 Ironman Arizona entry list
November 19, 2017
de la Parra
Van Der Merwe
2017 Ironman Cozumel entry list
November 26, 2017