Photos: 70.3 Worlds’ Top Contenders Speak in Chattanooga

Holly Lawrence (GBR)

You almost looked surprised to win last year. Would that be fair to say?
“Yes, definitely. I even got Twitter comments saying ‘that girl needs some media training.’ I didn’t waste any time in the chute. I was just gunning for that finish line and then even when I got down there I was like ‘does this mean I won?’ The whole time I just wasn’t even thinking. It was pretty crazy. I came away with it afterward as for me Daniela was always the benchmark and I felt like I didn’t really race her that day so that’s something that has really motivated me going forward. I’m excited to race against her this year.”

How she’s feeling after a recent leg injury… “After my last injury 8-10 weeks ago, through my own fault, not an overuse injury or anything, I was running out of the ocean swim and hit a stone and that was before the race and I raced on it thinking it wouldn’t matter. That kind of sidelines it. That was the worst timing. I wasn’t sure if I’d be racing or not but I was super conservative and I have lacked the run training over the last couple of months but being healthy was what was most important to me. The last couple of weeks have been going well so it will just be seeing what’s there and the first test will be really on race day.”

On having a target on her back.
“It makes me appreciate the position I was in last year that I will never get that back. I was nobody. I was like ‘why am I even invited to be on the pro panel?’ and I was shy and turned red when I was talking. Now I can’t just slide in around the back and expect not to be looked at. But a lot of positives have come out of it. I have great sponsors behind me.”

Photo: Steve Godwin

Tim Reed (AUS)

On the potential of getting back-to-back wins…
“I would take it, that’s for sure. Last year was something incredibly special. To have a home race and the way it panned out. Obviously it was a career highlight for me. To think things will magically pan out like that again for me is probably unlikely, but I’m still going to race as absolutely hard as I can out there and if I can defend the title I’ll definitely try to.”

On battling health issues…
“The key to success in triathlon is a lot of absolutely killing yourself in training and at five or six weeks out I started to get sick and had Kona on my mind and this race on my mind and didn’t rest as much as I probably should have. I dealt with a virus last week and the remnants have been asthma. It is what it is. You can’t dwell on things too much. You just have to get out there and see whatever your body has and race as well as you can.”

Photo: Steve Godwin

Daniela Ryf (SUI)

On health issues early in the year…
“I feel I’ve come back at the right time. It was not easy, these three months when of course you build up for the season and it starts and you can’t really train anymore so that was a bit of a tough time. But still racing Ironman South Africa injured made me actually really proud to have such a good race there. I think that’s also what it’s about is just not trying to win races but also to overcome challenges and even when it’s not going your best, you can show your best.”

On lessons from finishing fourth at this race last year…
“I learned that every race you have to be 100% from the start. I was definitely surprised in that race. Holly had an awesome day, and I couldn’t keep up. That definitely motivated me. A few weeks later I had my best race ever [in Kona] so that was probably a good motivation and hopefully this year I don’t need that motivation.”

Photo: Steve Godwin

Sebastian Kienle (GER)

Was racing 70.3 Chattanooga last year part of the preparation for this race?
“Of course. I wanted to have a look at the course last year and I would say unfortunately they changed the course but actually it’s good they changed it because now it’s even better than it was last year. It’s just good to come back here with a very positive feeling. The city is just about the right size for a German boy; not too big, I can’t get lost. I think the community is just super supportive for the race and the course is great for me.”

“You could look at numbers and you could look at numbers from the past, but the course always favors different people. When you said that people should be afraid when Javi really started to target this race, you were absolutely right. I follow him on social media and everytime I saw him on his TT bike and not on his road bike, I was like OK I probably need to do another loop today…. This distance is where short and long course guys meet and then you have a few specialists. One of them I think we should mention here is Sam Appleton, who is just doing 70.3 this year. I remember he was pretty strong last year, even though the course was not the same. That guarantees some really interesting racing.“

Photo: Steve Godwin

Javier Gomez (ESP)

On a tough 2016 and getting the win in Dubai to start 2017…
“It was good to be back after very tough year. 2016 was especially hard, breaking my elbow one month before the Olympics. That first race in Dubai, I just wanted to prove that I can still win races and be good. It was a very tough race. … I had to fight really hard to beat those guys. I had to give my best performance there. The season went pretty good after that with mixing in some ITU races and other stuff and I’m excited to race these guys in this championship. I don’t get to race them often. I’m usually racing other people, so it’s very exciting and very challenging.”

On training specifically for 70.3…
“I’ve trained more on a TT bike than I have in years. I still believe that ITU training is pretty good for 70.3 if you do a few different things. Having speed and intensity I think for this race, under four hours, is OK. If you talk about Ironman it’s a totally different world for those eight-hour races. I trained a bit more specifically for this race than other years and hope to do well on Sunday.”

Photo: Steve Godwin

Heather Wurtele (CAN)

On third, second, third finishes at Ironman 70.3 World Championships over the past few years and her 2017 season…
“I’m definitely happy to be in the mix consistently over so many years and fighting among these other competitors, but of course I’d much rather be on the top step of the podium. That’s the objective; it’s always a very tough objective. I’m pleased to give it all I have. Hopefully I’ll have a world championship win one of these days. It definitely doesn’t get easier year after year, that’s for sure.”

On third, second, third finishes at Ironman 70.3 World Championships over the past few years and her 2017 season…
“I’m definitely happy to be in the mix consistently over so many years and fighting among these other competitors, but of course I’d much rather be on the top step of the podium. That’s the objective; it’s always a very tough objective. I’m pleased to give it all I have. Hopefully I’ll have a world championship win one of these days. It definitely doesn’t get easier year after year, that’s for sure.”

Photo: Steve Godwin

Tim Don (GBR)

“I think I’m going to need an amazing swim, bike and run to do well against this field. It’s definitely a strong field. I’ve driven the course and it’s definitely an honest course. It’s very challenging, so I’m excited for that. I think it’s nice to put all three sports together and as Ty said, championships mean everything. This is where we judge ourselves and where everyone is judging us. They don’t see the training we do, they just see the results and most people don’t look beyond the first page. So I’m really excited and hopefully I can have a good race myself.”

On if he’ll try to take anything away from watching the women’s race on Saturday. “I think the goal is to watch the race and try to bike quicker than Daniela on Sunday. I think the starts going to be interesting. In 70.3 we don’t often do a dive start. I swam in the river this morning; it was like one of those endless pools. It was great fun. I think we can definitely learn from watching and speaking to the athletes when we see them. And it’s great for the sport. The first 70.3 World Championships were in 2006 and back then I think it was just an add-in and now people are flying in from all over the world. … It’s a testament to our sport. I’m lucky I’m sitting here with these great guys and women and I’m able to race for a world title alongside them.”

Photo: Steve Godwin

Annabelle Luxford (AUS)

On finishing sixth last year…
“I had my best race I could have that day, but I had a pretty troublesome year with injury and other things going on. I’m really excited to be here and it’s another day… I’m looking forward to giving this really challenging and fair course a go.“

On her season…
“I’ve had some better results this year. I gave up work. I was doing sort of an office job and trying to combine that with being an athlete as well and that was really challenging. I’ve been able to train more and take care of the recovery. That’s been the biggest thing that’s helped my performance this year. I’m excited to be out there racing with all of these other women.”

Photo: Steve Godwin

Tyler Butterfield (BER)

“I’m a fan of the sport, I’m from a small country and for me the world championships is everything. Coming from Bermuda, I think I was 14 when I won the first national title but my big thing was ‘how good are you?’ Sure you can win in a country of 65,000 and I love the world championships. In January, February and March when it’s cold and snowing and I’m training, it’s not to win in the 70.3s, it’s to see how good I am at this race. I’m excited. I hope everyone has their best race and I’m excited to see where I rank. I think it’s awesome that we have two days of world champs. I’m excited to watch the women’s race on Saturday and I’m excited to be a part of the race on Sunday.”

Photo: Steve Godwin

Melissa Hauschildt (AUS)

On winning two world championships and finishing second last year…
“I really wanted it last year. I gave it everything I had. Holly just had an amazing day. No one could catch her. I was just pleased to be back up there because I missed the world champs the two previous years so it was just good to be back in the mix.”

On her 2017 season…
“I spent most of this year in hospital. I’ve had a few surgeries and a few complications with them so I’ve only had one race this year and that was two weeks ago and I had a few problems there as well. Hopefully it all starts this weekend and I turn it all around.”

Photo: Steve Godwin

2017 Ironman 70.3 World Championship Press Conference

Andrew Messick kicked things off by discussing the growth of the Ironman 70.3 World Championship.

“This is a great weekend for us. The Ironman 70.3 World Championships since its inception in 2006 has grown dramatically and has been an event that has captured the imagination of athletes all around the world. … We are really happy with the evolution of the 70.3 World Championship. … We’ve seen this series continue to grow. We’ve seen the caliber of competition continue to rise and this has become an increasingly important event in the world triathlon calendar. We look forward to continuing the momentum in the coming years.”

Messick also addressed the impact Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have had on some of the athletes who will be competing.
“We have 150 Texas athletes who are racing with us this year and Hurricane Harvey has caused a huge amount of turmoil in Texas. Hurricane Irma hit Puerto Rico last night; we have 15 Puerto Rico athletes who are racing with us and we have 150 athletes from the state of Florida, where Ironman is based which has been declared in a state of emergency. For our Texas, Puerto Rico and Florida athletes, all of us are looking forward to being here where the weather has been beautiful, but our thoughts are back home and we’re all hopeful that our athletes and the broader Ironman community in Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Puerto Rico are going to be safe from the weather.”

Photo: Steve Godwin

2017 Ironman 70.3 World Championship Press Conference

The athletes gathered for a photo opportunity.

Photo: Steve Godwin

2017 ironman 70.3 World Championship Press Conference

The men of the pro panel.

Photo: Steve Godwin

2017 Ironman 70.3 World Championship Press Conference

A southern flying squirrel joined in on the press conference action at the end.

Photo: Steve Godwin

Race preparation is in full swing in Chattanooga, with 4,500 athletes getting ready to take on this weekend’s Ironman 70.3 World Championships. Thursday featured a chance to swim on course, the parade of nations, athlete meetings and the professional press conference—where the top contenders get a chance to speak ahead of the race and size up the competition. Read a few highlights from the press conference above.