70.3 Worlds Preview: Former Champions to Battle for Men’s Title

The men’s pro field is one of the fastest ever, with multiple record-breaking performances set on the way to Chattanooga. Read the women’s preview here.

Chattanooga the place to be this weekend, as more than one hundred of triathlon’s best will descend upon the Tennessee town for this weekend’s Ironman 70.3 World Championship. The event will feature an exciting new two-day format, which allows for both men and women professionals to race on separate days and experience clean, fair competition for their respective $125,000 prize purses.

The men’s pro field assembled is one of the fastest ever, with multiple record-breaking performances set on the way to Chattanooga. Some notable names on the start list:

Tim Reed (AUS)

Coach: Matt Dixon

The defending champion is a big question mark for this year’s race after revealing a one-two punch of health problems: first a chest infection, then a bout with Influenza. On his Twitter account, Reed stated he was hopeful the virus would go away in time for the race, but the absence of disease doesn’t always equal a full recovery.

Sebastian Kienle was in the mix until the very end. Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images

Sebastian Kienle (GER)

Coach: Lubos Bilek

The 2012 and 2013 Ironman 70.3 world champion and 2014 Ironman world champion will be looking to become the first man in history to win three Ironman 70.3 World Championship titles. If his jaw-dropping 7:41:42 finish time at July’s Ironman European Championship is any indication, Kienle is fitter than ever and a sure bet for the podium.

Sam Appleton (AUS)

Coach: Matt Dixon

Sam Appleton is on a roll. With five wins at Ironman 70.3 races this year, the former competitive swimmer is securing his status as one of the most solid athletes on the circuit. He placed fifth at last year’s 70.3 World Championship event, but we suspect he’ll finish even higher this year. Look for him to set the pace in the swim—he’s consistently one of the first out of the water.

Gomez won the title in 2013. Photo: John David Becker

Javier Gomez (ESP)

Coach: Carlos David Prieto

The 2014 Ironman 70.3 world champion and 2015 runner-up will return to the event after sitting out the 2016 season for a broken elbow sustained in a bike crash. The five-time ITU world champion, Olympic silver medalist, and XTERRA world champion is just insanely fast at any distance—his 3:42:21 win at Ironman 70.3 Dubai in January was an impressive way to bust the rust from his 70.3 hiatus.

Tim Don (GBR)

Coach: Julie Dibens

Honestly, we would understand if Tim Don wanted to rest on his laurels for a while: back in May, The Don set an Ironman World Record with his 7:40:23 at Ironman Brazil. The fact that he backed it up with a win in August at Ironman 70.3 Boulder just shows he’s in top form this year. A win at the 70.3 World Championship would be a nice feather in his cap. We expect him to unleash his best speed on the run, where he’s proven to be one of the best in the sport.

Tyler Butterfield (BER)

Coach: Self

The two-time Olympian has kept his racing schedule low-key compared to years past, with only four races this year: 3 70.3s and one Ironman. But all of those races have been solid—a sub-8 performance for third place at Ironman Texas, plus a 3:53:12 win at Ironman 70.3 Raleigh. It seems this lighter schedule is paying off for him, and we’re excited to see what a fresh and fast Butterfield can do against this field.

Andreas Dreitz (GER)

Coach: Rainer Skutschik

Andi Dreitz has turned in some respectable performances this year, including a fourth-place finish at the Challenge Championship and a smattering of second-place finishes at Ironman and Challenge events. We expect him to be in the mix on the bike leg, where he consistently holds his own against the likes of Kienle. If he can put together a strong run leg, he’s a feasible contender for the podium.

Kevin Collington (USA)

Coach: Matt Dixon

Collington has been a racing machine this year, appearing at everything from the 70.3 Pan American Championship (where he won) to the iconic Escape from Alcatraz triathlon (where he placed fourth). But a bike crash at Challenge Iceland in July produced a training setback for Collington, who was forced to take a month-long hiatus from swim training.

Matt Hanson (USA)

Coach: Julie Dibens

It’s been a record-setting kind of year for Hanson: After setting the course record (7:52:44) at the Ironman North American Championships in April, he went to Coeur d’Alene in June to set the run, bike, and overall course records en route to his win at the 70.3 race. He’s known for smart racing and a blistering-fast run—a combination that should have anyone in front of him in T2 running scared.

Joe Gambles (AUS)

Coach: Neal Henderson

After a couple of tough years filled with frustrating injuries, Australian Joe Gambles is finally feeling healthy. The Aussie’s third place finish at the ITU Long Course World Championship in Penticton two weeks ago is the latest in a string of good performances for 2017, where he’s seemed to get stronger with every race. 

The Ironman 70.3 World Championship MPRO race will take place on Sunday, September 10. For a full pro start list and live coverage, visit Ironman.com.