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After battling an injury this season, will 2011 women’s champ Melissa Hauschildt rise to the challenge of keeping her world title? Who will pull out a surprise podium finish, and who will fold in the Nevada desert heat? All bets are off this Sept. 9—race day of the 2012 Ironman 70.3 World Championship. (Read the men’s preview.) Go to Triathlete.com/Vegas2012 for complete coverage of the race.
Mirinda Carfrae (AUS), 31
The double world champion (she won the 70.3 world championship in 2007 in Clearwater and the 2010 Ironman World Championship) has never raced on the Vegas course, but if she decides to toe the line—her Kona build is her primary focus—she’ll be a race favorite. Earlier this season Carfrae won Rev3 Quassy.
Melissa Hauschildt (née Rollison) (AUS), 29
The defending women’s 70.3 world champion has been plagued by a stress fracture in her fibula, but if healthy on race day could again run away with the title. Hauschildt, who seemed to come out of nowhere last year to take the Vegas win in 4:20:55, went undefeated in 2011 and was fourth at the 2012 Abu Dhabi International Triathlon in March. If she’s in usual form, the one-time steeplechaser has every chance of defending her Vegas crown.
Linsey Corbin (USA), 31
A prolific racer, Corbin finished third at last year’s 70.3 world championship and is a podium favorite again this year. This season she’s notched recent victories in both the half-iron (Hawaii) and full-iron (Austria) distances, in addition to garnering multiple podium finishes. Corbin has improved her swim, her weakest leg, and transformed into one of the most well-rounded racers on the pro women’s circuit.
Leanda Cave (GBR), 34
A formidable swimmer-cyclist, Cave will be looking to improve upon her sixth-place finish from last year’s 70.3 world championship. Following an illness she may have come down with while in Panama for a race, her season appears to be on the upswing, with a fourth-place finish at Wildflower followed by a win at Escape from Alcatraz. A resident of Tucson, Ariz., Cave has proven she can perform in tough, hot conditions—an asset on an unforgiving desert course.
Angela Naeth (CAN), 34
Naeth is enjoying a stellar 70.3 record this season, with wins in Panama (fastest bike split), St. Croix (course record) and Syracuse (another course record). She also won the Life Time Fitness Leadman Epic 125 race, held on some of the same roads as the 70.3 world championship, which rewards stronger cyclists like Naeth.
Meredith Kessler (USA), 34
Of the five races Kessler has raced this season so far (at print time in early July), she’s won four: Ironmans in St. George and Coeur d’Alene, an Ironman-turned-70.3 in New Zealand, was third at 70.3 California and, most recently, won Eagleman 70.3 in Maryland by 10 minutes. Though Kessler is an Ironman specialist, her top-end swim-bike speed makes her a serious contender at the half-iron distance.
Heather Jackson (USA), 28
Jackson, who finished just off the podium at last year’s 70.3 world championship (and was fifth in 2010), is having a stellar 2012 season with a course record win at Wildflower and a runner-up finish at Ironman 70.3 California in a deep field of competition. Vegas’ tough course suits Jackson, who proved at Wildflower she can ride and run her way to the victory through heat and on a notoriously tough course.
Kelly Williamson (USA), 34
With 70.3 wins in San Juan and Galveston and at Rev3 Knoxville, the Austin-based pro has had a stellar season thus far—one she has built around a peak performance in Vegas. Known for her swim strength (she’s a former college swimmer) and lightning-quick run speed, she’s been hard at work improving her weakest link, the bike leg. Will that work pay dividends in Vegas? We expect it will.
Magali Tisseyre (CAN), 28
A 70.3 specialist, Tisseyre started the 2012 season slowly with disappointing performances and mechanical issues derailing her early races. But she turned things around with a third-place finish at Wildflower and subsequent win at Ironman 70.3 Mont Tremblant. She finished third at the 2010 70.3 world championship, proving she can hang with the best at marquee races.
Jodie Swallow (GBR), 31
Swallow, a 2004 Olympian, won the 70.3 world championship in 2010, when the race was still held in Clearwater, Fla., and has made Vegas her top priority this season. An early-season stress fracture didn’t keep her from a win at Ironman 70.3 Boise (on a modified course) and a second-place finish at Ironman 70.3 Syracuse a couple of weeks later.
Heather Wurtele (CAN), 33
Seventh at last year’s 70.3 world championship, Wurtele, a two-time Ironman champion, also brings a solid half-iron record to the Vegas start line. Earlier this season she was runner-up to Mirinda Carfrae at Rev3 Quassy, and was racing in second place at mile 21 of the run at Ironman Coeur d’Alene when she was disqualified for borrowing another athlete’s bike after having a mechanical. She also finished runner-up at 70.3 New Orleans (turned into a duathlon). She most recently raced the Ironman European Championship in Frankfurt, finishing in eighth place.
Melanie McQuaid (CAN), 39
The three-time Xterra world champ pulled out a big win at Ironman 70.3 California this year, and credits her new Trek Speed Concept ride with making her road cycling as strong as her off-road prowess. Like Trek teammate Lesley Paterson, McQuaid is a versatile athlete who’s proven herself to be a tough-as-nails threat at the half-iron distance.
2011 Ironman World Championship 70.3 Results
Women swim bike run total
Melissa Rollison AUS 28:27 2:27:57 1:21:14 4:20:55
Karin Thürig SUI 33:01 2:24:05 1:25:15 4:26:52
Linsey Corbin USA 29:19 2:31:07 1:25:23 4:29:25
Heather Jackson USA 29:31 2:33:06 1:24:27 4:30:21
Joanna Lawn NZL 27:59 2:33:52 1:27:22 4:33:08
Leanda Cave GBR 25:40 2:36:29 1:28:21 4:33:57
Heather Wurtele CAN 27:28 2:33:47 1:30:26 4:35:36
Emma-Kate Lidbury GBR 26:29 2:38:56 1:27:01 4:36:14
Christie Sym AUS 29:17 2:32:19 1:31:48 4:36:52
Michelle Wu AUS 28:04 2:38:15 1:26:55 4:37:03
Complete Start List
60. Melissa Hauschildt (AUS)
61. Kelly Williamson (USA)
62. Linsey Corbin (USA)
63. Jodie Swallow (GBR)
64. Leanda Cave (GBR)
65. Heather Jackson (USA)
66. Margaret Shapiro (USA)
67. Emma-Kate Lidbury (GBR)
68. Angela Naeth (CAN)
69. Joanna Lawn (NZL)
70. Michelle Wu (AUS)
71. Magali Tisseyre (CAN)
72. Mirinda Carfrae (AUS)
73. Natascha Badmann (CZE)
74. Jennifer Tetrick (USA)
76. Meredith Kessler (USA)
77. Amanda Stevens (USA)
79. Julia Grant (NZL)
80. Melanie McQuaid (CAN)
81. Sarah Piampiano (USA)
82. Claire Horner (ZAF)
83. Yvonne Van Vlerken (NDE)
84. Julia Gajer (GER)
85. Heather Wurtele (USA)
86. Missy Kuck (USA)
87. Rachel Challis (NZL)
88. Mandy McLane (USA)
89. Mariana Andrade (BRA)