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Ironman AZ on Tap for Sunday

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For 2,800 age-group athletes and a handful of elites, the 2009 triathlon season has yet to come to a close. Marking an end to the season will be Ironman Arizona, taking place this Sunday in Tempe.

Conditions for race day should be near perfect, with afternoon highs around 70 degrees and almost no wind on the forecast. Such mild air should make for some fast times among the professional ranks, especially in the women’s race, which will feature some serious long-course talent.

Among the headliners in the women’s field is Montana’s Linsey Corbin, who is still looking for her first Ironman win after finishing fifth at the Hawaii Ironman in 2008. While Corbin’s long-course resume is impressive, it’s hard to call her the favorite given the rest of the names on Sunday’s start list. Last year’s runner-up in Tempe, Brit Leanda Cave, is here in town and we expect another fast time from the former short-course superstar. Rounding out the female favorites is Canadian Samantha McGlone, who finished third at Ironman Lake Placid and fifth at the Hawaii Ironman this season. Others to keep an eye on include Aussie Kate Major, American Gina Kehr and Canada’s Sara Gross.

While the men’s race doesn’t have as many big names as the women’s, there are three Ironman champions among the men’s field and plenty of others to give the trio chase. The favorite among the men has to be South African Raynard Tissink, who won Ironman Wisconsin this September and also finished third at Ironman Louisville. Tissink will have to contend with Hungary’s Josef Major, who won the April, 2008 edition of this race with a phenomenal run. Major will likely have to run down American super-biker Jordan Rapp, who is fresh off of his first Ironman win in Canada earlier this year. Other men to watch out for include Americans TJ Tollakson and Lewis Elliot, Brazil’s Santiago Ascenco, Aussie Richie Cunningham (racing in his first Ironman) and Frenchman Francois Chabaud.

Check back at triathlete.com for post-race coverage Sunday evening.