Kona 2019 – the hottest line up!

Welcome, to the arena of dreams! It’s Kona week: the most sought after race for all the Long Distance Triathlon lovers is here and we just can’t wait for the show to begin! Coach Diogo outlines some of the ones to watch.

IMG_9687.jpg

This is the IRONMAN World Championships, with the best Long Distance triathletes in the planet, and they are all in one place, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii!

Not only are the Pro’s are there to race each other but also the best Age-Groups in the world will show us why they deserved a place at the IRONMAN World Championships.

Kona is not a normal place, this is a hell disguised as a paradise and to be able to reach that fantastic finish line, all athletes have to prove to themselves that they deserve it, Kona isn’t a sweet place to race, it’s hot, it’s humid, it’s windy and will test all athletes until their last drop of sweat!

But let’s talk about the race itself, who are the big names to watch on Saturday? When we take a look on the Pro Start List, we can see 45 women and 57 men, they are the best of the best, and all want something in common, the win. Not all the Pro athletes needed to win a race to qualify , when you’re a Kona winner you have your slot guaranteed and you only need to race an IRONMAN race to be able to line up at the IRONMAN World Championships.

Daniela Ryf on her way to Victory in 2017

Daniela Ryf on her way to Victory in 2017

Last year the female winner was Daniela Ryf, the “Angry Bird” as she is known. She won Kona for the 4th time in a row and she is the favourite to win it again this year. However the competition is getting stronger, Lucy Charles-Barclay will put her hat back in the ring again this year. As a strong swimmer, Lucy has been always caught at the end of the bike leg: the question is, will Ryf be able to catch a more mature and more experienced Lucy? Let’s not forget about the German Anne Haug, winner of IRONMAN Copenhagen, she is a strong contender to the podium finish and will definitely fight for the win. If this becomes a foot race, she would be our favourite. Some other names to watch watch: the veteran Miranda Carfrae, seven times on the podium and 3x IRONMAN World Champion and in 2013 she became the champion with the third fastest marathon time overall. She will return to Kona now as a mother to fight for the podium alongside Sara Crowley, Sara True and also Heather Jackson all will have a word to say. We cannot be certain of who will win or finish on the top 3 but the women’s event will be a great Triathlon show!

British favourite Lucy Charles-Barclay is hoping for a strong bike field so she can save her legs for her ever-improving run.

British favourite Lucy Charles-Barclay is hoping for a strong bike field so she can save her legs for her ever-improving run.

When we talk about men’s field, Germany is the country with the spotlight on them. With names like Jan Frodeno, Patrick Lange or Sebastien Kienle, this will be definitely an interesting civial war, before you look outside the borders. Frodeno ,who wasn’t able to race last year due to a stress fracture, is coming back to Kona to claim his crown back from Patrick Lange who managed to took the course record with a superb marathon time of 2h41 and won his second world title in the distance.

Jan Frodeno in the IRONMAN 70.3 Men’s World Championship in Port Elizabeth, South Africa 2018

Jan Frodeno in the IRONMAN 70.3 Men’s World Championship in Port Elizabeth, South Africa 2018

Sebastien Kienle proved in Nice he is strong and as a previous champion will be a contender on the podium finish. The experienced German is always a “tough bone to chew on” and will race hard to get the winner’s crown.

Coach Philip offers words of wisdom to Sebastien Kienle…or Philip just made a funny…we don’t know which is more likely!

Coach Philip offers words of wisdom to Sebastien Kienle…or Philip just made a funny…we don’t know which is more likely!

Three weeks ago, Cameron Wurf won IRONMAN Italy with a marathon of 2h48, his fastest marathon ever. The question is: how well rested will he arrive in Hawaii? He is a good swimmer, an amazing cyclist and he just proved he can run but will it be enough recovery befor Kona? We shouldn’t forget last year podium finishers, Brit David McNamee who proved he can run well in Kona and fight until the end for the podium and the Belgium Bart Aerneouts, are strong contenders for the podium and who knows if one of them could be called IRONMAN World Champion at the end of the day.

Of course we can’t dismiss one of the biggest names for this year, the 2x Olympic gold medallist, Alistair Brownlee will race Kona for the first time. Though interestingly we can’t actually say he raced the IRONMAN distance before (IRONMAN Cork had the swim cancelled: read here to hear why it still was probably more mentally tough than the official distance!), but what we know is Ali always races to win. However we’ve seen how brutal Kona can be for first timers – the Kona rookies– but with the pedigree of Ali Brownlee, we never know what to expect! Lionel Sanders will be in Kona again to prove that his second place two years ago wasn’t a one-hit result, he has changed his way of training so the expectations are quite high. Tim O’Donnel, has suffered this year with some injuries but definitely will prove to us why he is called ‘Captain America’.

It would be remiss of us not to also mention all the fantastic age-groupers who are out competing for age-group titles. With so many to choose from, we will only pick up the two TTH athletes racing: Joss Chelli and Emma Wardall/Hatzis. Since Tri Training Harder began, we have always had athletes in Kona, and we cannot wait for these two to complete their first race on the Big Island. GOOD LUCK!

We are exhausted just reading through all this! If the women race is the show, what can we say for the men’s race? All we know is that on the 12th of October, our eyes will be on Kona to see an amazing day of triathlon. Good luck to everyone racing!