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With the triathlon season reaching the midway point, a large percentage of professional triathletes will be out on the racing scene looking for titles, prize money and those all-important KPR points. Here’s a look at some of the action to look forward to.
Ironman 70.3 Boulder (Saturday)
With several professional triathletes taking up residence in Boulder, the start list is fairly packed with several local stars choosing to make the start in search of a share of the $60,000 prize purse.
With defending champion Joe Gambles (AUS) choosing not to race, last year’s runner-up Tim Don (GBR) will wear the No. 1 bib. With a huge 70.3 North American Championship under his belt, Don will be the heavy favorite to add another 70.3 title to his resume. He’ll face off against a long list of experienced pros, including Richie Cunningham (AUS), Greg Bennett (AUS), Paul Ambrose (AUS), Ben Hoffman (USA), Justin Daerr (USA), Callum Millward (NZL), Matt Russell (USA), James Seear (AUS) and David Giardini (ITA).
2014 winner Jodie Swallow (GBR) is the favorite to hold onto her title Saturday. The 2006 Ironman 70.3 world champion will face off against a field that includes Laura Bennett (USA), Alicia Kaye (USA), Lesley Smith (USA) and Uli Bromme (USA).
Challenge Denmark (Saturday)
Taking place in the cities of Billund and Herning, the sell-out inaugural Challenge Denmark will have more than 1,500 athletes racing this Saturday for the full-iron and half-iron-distance races. The swim will start in Fuglsang Lake in Herning, followed by a flat and fast bike and flat, multiple-loop run, making it great for spectators.
Highlighting the professional field are Dirk Bockel (LUX), Mary Beth Ellis (USA) and Michelle Vesterby (DEN). Also taking part will be some of the sports biggest legends—Chris “Macca” McCormack, Thomas Hellriegel and Luc Van Lierde—racing as a relay.
XTERRA East Championships (Sunday)
This Sunday will see the 17th running of the XTERRA Richmond race in Virginia. The race always attracts top professionals and age-groupers in the off-road scene, and it’s known as an “urban adventure.” The race takes place on trails in the James River Park System, and the 10K run is the highlight—it features river crossings, rock jumpings, the “Mayan ruins” stair climb and train track crossings.
Headlining the pro field is American Josiah Middaugh, who has finished in the top three in Richmond five times. He’ll be battling against Kiwi Braden Currie, who’s had a perfect season so far, including a narrow win over Middaugh at the XTERRA Southeast Championship in Alabama last month. Other top men who have a great shot at the podium are Craig Evans (USA), Chris Ganter (USA), Karsten Madsen (CAN), Olly Shaw (NZL), Branden Rakita (USA) and Ben Collins, who’s making his U.S. Pro Series debut from a Olympic-distance road racing career.
In the women’s race, no past XTERRA East winners are here, so a new Richmond winner will come from a pro field that includes Emma Gerrard, Suzie Snyder, Christine Jeffrey and Brittany Webster.
Ironman and 70.3 Cairns (Sunday)
Sunday’s Cairns event is unique in that it welcomes professional fields competing in both the 70.3 and Ironman events on the same day.
The Ironman event will see a battle between a few Ironman heavyweights. New Zealand’s Cameron Brown, Australia’s Luke McKenzie, South Africa’s James Cunnama and New Zealand’s Dylan McNeice will all be making the start on Sunday for the men. On the women’s side, Australia’s Liz Blatchford (and 2012 Ironman Cairns winner) highlights the start list and will face competition from Gina Crawford (NZL), Beth Gerdes (USA), Michelle Bremer (NZL) and Christie Sym (AUS). With a $100,000 prize purse on the line and $20,000 going to each winner, you can bet it will be a hard-fought race on both sides on Sunday.
Though Ironman 70.3 Cairns features a much smaller prize purse of $15,000, several top names have chosen to line up to tackle the half-distance event in paradise. Four-time Ironman world champion Craig Alexander (AUS) is the top name on the start list, but he’ll face a tough field on Sunday. Tim Reed (AUS) will look to add another 70.3 title to his list of accomplishments. Other top names include Australians Tim Van Berkel, Sam Appleton, Clayton Fettell and Matty White. Swiss star Caroline Steffen will be the favorite, with Australian Annabel Luxford also considered a top contender.
Ironman 70.3 Eagleman (Sunday)
The Cambridge, Md.-based race has been popular among pros for years and will welcome a strong field of Americans on Sunday. With the entire podium from 2014 choosing not to race, the race is wide open for both the men and women.
Americans TJ Tollakson, Jordan Rapp and Barrett Brandon are the top names on the start list, but this race serves as a great opportunity for an up-and-comer to find his/her way into the top three. On the women’s side, American Sarah Haskins will continue to learn about the 70.3 distance and is the top name on the start list. Other contenders include Americans Lauren Brandon and Sarah Piampiano.
Ironman 70.3 Italy (Sunday)
Located in Pescara, the heart of Italy, this Ironman 70.3 features an open-water swim in the temperate Adriatic Sea, a hilly bike through the foothills of the Abruzzo Mountains and among vineyards and olive tree groves, and a half-marathon through the downtown of Pescara along the beach promenade, finishing in the heart of the city.
The pro field is made up entirely of European athletes, such as Patrick Lange (GER), Ritchie Nicholls (GBR), Johannes Moldan (GER) on the men’s side and Erika Csomor (HUN) on the women’s side. Neither 2014 champion is returning to defend their title.