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With the 2012 Ironman World Championship about six months away, professionals are working hard to earn enough points and meet the necessary requirements to snag a highly coveted spot on the Kona start line. While the rankings will no doubt see several changes over the next few months, it’s interesting to see where the top athletes currently sit and who will have to chase points (and an Ironman finish) in the coming months.
The points from Craig Alexander’s 2011 Ironman World Championship 70.3, 2011 Ironman World Championship and 2012 Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship wins have him sitting comfortably in the top position. As a recent Kona winner, Alexander’s standing is somewhat of a moot point because he has already validated his Ironman World Championship spot by finishing the Ironman event in Melbourne. Alexander could choose to not race any other 70.3 or Ironman events and he would still have a secured spot.
Timo Bracht’s fifth-place finish from Kona and his win at Ironman Western Australia in December 2011 have him in second position. Pete Jacobs’ second-place finish in Kona is enough for him to sit in third position. Jacobs was forced to withdraw from March’s Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship due to injury, so he is still in need of an Ironman finish to get to Kona. In fourth is Cameron Brown. Brown is well positioned in the rankings because of a third-place finish at Ironman New Zealand (which was turned into a 70.3 due to weather) and a second-place finish at the Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship. Andreas Raelert’s podium finish in Kona puts him in fifth position. Like Jacobs, he still needs an Ironman finish to be eligible for a Kona spot.
Perhaps what is more important than who is at the top of the rankings is who sits out of the top 50. Lance Armstrong is currently in 53rd position, but has plans to race Ironman 70.3 Florida (May 20), Ironman 70.3 Hawaii (June 2) and Ironman France (June 24) in the coming months. With just less than four months of racing left until the World Triathlon Corporation offers up the first spots (40 for the men, 25 for the women on July 29), there is still plenty of time for athletes to move in (or out) of the qualifying spots.
Also important to note is those athletes who have yet to complete the necessary full-Ironman race to earn a spot. Notable pros joining Raelert and Jacobs in that category include Dirk Bockel, Raynard Tissink, Mike Aigroz, Andi Bocherer, Faris Al-Sultan, Chris Lieto, Michael Raelert, Rasmus Henning, Tom Lowe, Andy Potts, Matt Reed and Armstrong. Those athletes will have to race one of the 20 remaining Ironmans in the 2012 season (which ends Aug. 27 to be eligible for Kona qualification.
Additionally, there are two athletes in unique positions for Kona qualifying. Two-time Ironman world champion Chris McCormack has not raced in a 70.3 or Ironman event in quite some time, but could still be eligible to make the start. McCormack, who is currently pursuing a spot on Australia’s Olympic team, has won the title within the last five years meaning he simply has to validate his spot with an Ironman finish, which he will likely do at Ironman Cairns on June 3. Another Australian, Greg Bennett, also has a special opportunity to race. Although you won’t find him anywhere on the KPR rankings, he has already punched his Kona ticket by winning the Hy-Vee 5150 U.S. Championship in 2011 and validating his spot at the 2011 Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship.
Leanda Cave leads the way for the women thanks to a podium finish at the Ironman World Championship, a win at Ironman Arizona and strong showings at three 70.3s. Stellar performances at the Ironman World Championship and the Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship put Caroline Steffen and Mirinda Carfrae in second and third, respectively. Both Rachel Joyce and Joanna Lawn round out the top five thanks to their busy schedules and strong performances after the 2011 Ironman World Championship.
Notable names who have yet to complete an Ironman race include Chrissie Wellington (who announced earlier she will take a break from Ironman this year), Melissa Rollison (who has said she will not pursue a 2012 Kona spot), Heather Wurtele, Natascha Badmann, Caitlin Snow, Tine Deckers, Virginia Berasategui, Catriona Morrison and Mary Beth Ellis.
Visit Ironmanpromembership.com for a complete breakdown of the rules and the current rankings.