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Next weekend’s Avia Vineman Ironman 70.3 race has a stellar lineup of pros—with world champions among them. The race, which winds through vineyards in Sonoma County, Calif., has become a favorite among pros and age-groupers alike. Canadian pro Melanie McQuaid told Triathlete magazine earlier this year that it was one of her favorites—“It fuels my wine-drinking habit!” American pro T.J. Tollakson listed it among his favorites as well, commenting, “It’s a true destination haven, and the awards being La Crema wine bottles only adds to the appeal.”
The pros are racing for a $50,000 prize purse, and it’s reported to be the deepest pro field in North America so far this year.
Highlighting the men’s field are two-time Vineman 70.3 winner and defending champ Chris Lieto; course record holder Joe Gambles; Timothy O’Donnell, who finished second at Ironman Texas this year, his Ironman debut; Ironman South Africa champion Raynard Tissink, who won Ironman 70.3 Buffalo Springs less than two weeks ago; Ironman 70.3 Kansas winner Paul Matthews, who also took the title at the Washington D.C. Triathlon a week later; and Andy Potts who’s collected five titles this year including Ironman 70.3 Florida, Ironman 70.3 California and the Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon less than two weeks ago. He’ll also be racing at this weekend’s Life Time Fitness Triathlon in Minneapolis before heading to the West Coast.
Other men racing the Vineman 70.3 include Jesse Thomas, who came out of nowhere to win the Avia Wildflower Triathlon title this year; Kieran Doe, runner-up at last year’s race; strong contender Matty Reed; Matt Lieto and the 2010 Ironman Canada winner Victor Zyemstev.
In the women’s pro race are Ironman world champion and defending Vineman 70.3 champion Mirinda Carfrae; Leanda Cave, who finished in second to Carfrae at Vineman last year and took the tile at the Avia Wildflower Triathlon this year; three-time Xterra world champion Melanie McQuaid; 2010 Ironman Canada winner Meredith Kessler; rising 70.3 star Magali Tisseyre; and Heather Jackson, who finished a close second at Ironman 70.3 California this year.
The age-group field is limited to 2,300 athletes this year, who are racing for 50 slots to the Ironman World Championship 70.3, which will take place in Lake Las Vegas, Nev., on Sept. 11.
Check back to Triathlete.com next week to hear more about the upcoming Vineman Ironman 70.3.