Two-time Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee gets his first real test at the half-iron distance this weekend against a three-time world champion and the current Ironman world record holder.
All eyes will be on a small town in southern Utah this Saturday, as a stacked pro field will battle for a shot at 1,500 KPR points and a $100,000 prize purse.
St. George, which plays host to the 70.3 North American Pro Championship, promises to make athletes fight for their share of the prize. The course is one of the most challenging on the Ironman 70.3 circuit, with unrelenting climbs and unpredictable weather—the history of the race includes the entire spectrum of weather, from 100-degree temperatures to freezing rain.
The professional fields feature an Ironman world champion, former Olympians, comeback stories and several new faces. View the full pro start list at Ironman.com.
The stacked men’s start list for this weekend might well be the same field for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in September. Last year’s champion, Canadian Lionel Sanders, will face heavy competition for the top step of the podium.
Coach: David Tilbury Davis
The defending champion thrives under pressure, and he will have a lot of it this year. As one of the strongest cyclists on the 70.3 circuit, Sanders can leverage his power on the bike to tactically wear down his competition while saving his legs for a super-fast run. This strategy paid off last year against uber-biker and world champion Sebastian Kienle, who took second to the Canadian.
Coaches: Jack Maitland and Malcom Brown
After a win in his half-distance debut at the low-key Challenge Gran Canaria, the two-time Olympic gold medalist will step into the big leagues at St. George. He’s proven he can cover the distance, but many are curious to see what will happen when he races with the likes of Sanders and Kienle. Can he hold his own on the bike? If not, will he have enough in the tank to unleash his super run speed in the final 13.1 miles? We look forward to finding out.
Coach: Lubos Bilek
Kienle has won the Ironman World Championship and the Ironman 70.3 World Championship (twice). What he hasn’t won—St. George. Last year’s near-miss, where he battled neck-and-neck with Sanders for most of the race, is still fresh in his mind. He’s also intensely motivated by the presence of Brownlee—Kienle’s April 6 tweet about Brownlee’s entry says it all: “This is gona [sic] be GREAT!”
Coach: Lance Watson
Speaking of Olympians, the two-time Canadian Olympian has found great success at the 70.3 distance, including a 2013 win at this race. McMahon will likely unleash his ITU speed on the run course’s undulating hills in his quest to regain the championship.
Coach: Julie Dibens
The three-time Olympian and four-time ITU world champion knows what it takes to win St. George—he was the victor at the 2015 race. He’s got some wind in his sails from his runaway victory at last month’s Ironman 70.3 Liuzhou, where he backed up a 19:42 swim and 2:00:14 bike with a blistering 1:12:44 run.
Coach: Elliot Bassett
Fresh off his second win at the Ironman African Championships in South Africa, where he punched his ticket to the Ironman World Championships, Hoffman will take a victory lap in his adopted home of St. George. As a college student, Hoffman used to spend spring breaks training on the very roads utilized in Saturday’s race. As a pro, Hoffman has attended every incarnation of Ironman St. George since its debut in 2010 (including a win in 2012, when it was still a full-distance event).
Other notable contenders: Joe Gambles, Sam Appleton, Trevor Wurtele, Tyler Butterfield, Matt Chrabot
With two-time defending champion Heather Wurtele out due to injury, the women’s field is licking their chops for a shot at the title.
Coach: Sean Yates
In only two years on the 70.3 circuit, Brit Holly Lawrence has made a name for herself as one of the most dominant females in long-course racing. Her win at the 2016 Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Mooloolaba was the cherry on top of a sweet season that included three titles over the half distance. She’s yet to win in St. George, though—last year, she finished second to Wurtele—and very much wants to add that feather to her cap.
Coach: Julie Dibens
After taking a year off for pregnancy, Joyce is back and ready to reclaim her spot on a podium. The British phenom busted the rust a month ago at Oceanside 70.3 with a 4:31:20, showing she didn’t lose much in the way of speed or smart racing during her hiatus.
Coach: Siri Lindley
After almost walking away from the sport for good, the former ITU star regained her bearings under the gentle guidance of coach Siri Lindley. The partnership has paid off—in 2016, her inaugural year as a 70.3 athlete, the Aussie earned four wins. She finished second to Lawrence at this year’s Ironman 70.3 Oceanside. Did the experience provide Salthouse with an insight to beating Lawrence this time around?
Coach: Jesse Kropelnicki
South Africa’s Jeanni Seymour will be looking to move up from last year’s sixth-place finish in St. George. She’s certainly proven she can—in the past year, she’s had big wins at the 70.3 distance, including her most recent victory at Ironman 70.3 Liuzhou in March. Look for her to pick off her competition in the run leg, where she often clocks the fastest splits in her field.
Other notable contenders: Jackie Hering, Lisa Roberts, Uli Bromme, Laurel Wassner
For race day updates, visit Ironman.com’s tracking and live blogs.