As the only Ironman to take place between the Ironman World Championship (Oct. 10) and the Ironman 70.3 World Championship (Nov. 14), this Saturday’s Ironman Florida attracts a mixed field of professionals, with all looking for an opportunity to make a late-season statement.
Written by: Liz Hichens
With the men’s race at Ironman Florida lacking the usual depth of Ironman races, many eyes will be on the women’s field. Thanks to the five Ironman Florida victories already under her belt, Scotland’s Bella Bayliss is the favorite. Despite competing in, and winning, several Ironmans already this year, Bayliss is a contender because she has proven several times that she can recover quickly and perform well at the Ironman distance. Bayliss will face off against American Heather Gollnick. Gollnick, a Florida resident, competed at the Ironman World Championship and will be depending on a speedy recovery to be competitive on Saturday. The United States’ Jessica Jacobs and Denmark’s Charlotte Kolters also competed in Hawaii and will be looking for 2010 qualifying spots on Saturday. Germany’s Nina Kraft and the United States’ Katya Meyers did not race in Kona, and their fresh legs could be the difference to earn podium spots.
With last year’s winner Tom Evans of Canada and last year’s runner up Torjborjn Sindballe of Denmark not racing, the men’s race is wide open. The favorite is likely South Africa’s Raynard Tissink. Tissink won this year’s Ironman Wisconsin and did not compete in Hawaii, making this race his focus. A last minute entrant is the Czech Republic’s Peter Vabrousek. Despite competing in several races already this year, Vabrousek is always considered a contender in any race he does. Like Vabrousek, Australia’s Luke McKenzie decided at the last minute to compete in Panama City on Saturday. McKenzie has already competed in five Ironman events in 2009 and will be looking to close out the season on a high note. Other podium contenders include Americans Mac Brown and Justin Daerr.