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The ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships have never been for the faint of heart. At roughly triple the Olympic distance, they are the survival of the fittest. But this year’s endurance athletes will deal with an added challenge, a tough course in the Nevada desert.
Read more about the championships with following the race preview, provided by ITU.
Just outside one of the world’s entertainment capitals of Las Vegas, the battle for these elite world championships will be decided over a 4km swim at the Lake Las Vegas resort. Then it’s onto a 120km bike ride through the Lake Mead National Recreational area, that includes more than 7000 feet of climbing. It all finishes with a 30km run that has an additional 2000 feet elevation gain.
Defending champion Sylvain Sudrie (FRA) is back and aiming to become the fourth man to win consecutive ITU long distance world championships.
Overall, it’s tough to pick who might have the form in a race packed with talent. For one, France’s Julien Loy is back and aiming for his third crown, and also in the mix is current European long distance champion Miquel Blanchart. Germany’s Michael Raelert might have missed Kona due to injury this year, but he’s shown he is healthy again, winning Ironman 70.3 Austin less than two weeks ago. Raelert also raced last weekend at Ironman 70.3 Miami, finishing second, making this Raelert’s third long-distance race in three weeks.
American Jordan Rapp, who won Ironman Canada in August, marked a triumphant return after a car crash that left him with serious injuries in 2010. Rapp’s cheersquad will also be familiar to ITU fans, he’s married to Canadian Jill Savege. Savege is a multiple World Cup winner and Pan Am Games gold medallist and now a mother, after the couple had their first child in June this year.
Others to watch for include Australia’s Joe Gambles and David Dellow and New Zealand’s Kieran Doe. Also given Denmark’s record in this event (they’ve won five titles), keep an eye on 2009 bronze medallist Martin Jensen and Esben Hovgaard, who finished eighth last year.
Reigning champion Caroline Steffen (SUI) is also back to try and defend the title she won last year, but last year’s Kona runner up will have to compete against a stellar list of women in Henderson.
No doubt Kona podium finisher Leanda Cave will be keen to get herself, and Great Britain, back on top of the ITU podium. Before Steffen’s win last year, GBR had won the previous four ITU long distance titles thanks to Cave, Chrissie Wellington, Jodie Swallow and Bella Comerford. Like Raelert she will also be racing on tired legs after successfully defending her title at last weekend’s Ironman 70.3 Miami race.
Others aiming to take the title off Steffen will be current European women’s champion, Camilla Pedersen (DEN) and the runner-up Michelle Vesterby (DEN). Hungary’s Erika Csomor claimed silver back in 2007 in this event and is also a world class duathlete, claiming bronze in the 2011 ITU Powerman Long Distance Duathlon Championship in Zofingen earlier this year.
But the real battle for Steffen could be the one from another rising long distance star Mary Beth Ellis (USA). Ellis completed three Ironmans in eight weeks earlier this year, and won them all, including breaking Erin Baker‘s 21-year old course record in Penticton, Canada.
The 2011 Henderson ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships get underway when elite men’s wave starts at 7am (local time) on Saturday, Nov. 5, followed by the elite women’s wave from 7:05.