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Ironman Canada, Ironman Louisville To Decide Final Kona Qualifiers

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The scenic start of Ironman Canada in Penticton.
The scenic start of Ironman Canada in Penticton.

This Sunday, two North American Ironmans will decide the final 122 qualifiers for the Ironman World Championships to take place in Kona, Hawaii on Saturday, October 10.

Thousands of triathletes, both amateur and professional, will line up at Ironman Canada and Ironman Louisville, many with the hope of punching a ticket to Kona.

Ironman Canada Preview

The professional race in Penticton, British Columbia will bring out three former Ironman Canada champions in Canadian Jasper Blake, Australian Belinda Granger and German Thomas Hellriegel.

The men’s race will be without last year’s winner, Bryan Rhodes of New Zealand. Rhodes was forced to end his season after an Achilles injury he suffered at the beginning of the Steelhead Ironman 70.3 race. Blake competes in this race year after year. His victory here came in 2006, and he will be looking to improve on his third place finish last year. It has been 13 years since Hellriegel won this race, but if things go well he could be looking at a chance for a podium spot. Fellow German Lothar Leder has won multiple Ironmans and will also be looking for a strong placement.

Australian Luke Bell is one of the favorites to win in Penticton on Sunday, but he has made it clear that he has not intentions of competing in Kona this year. American Jordan Rapp has had some strong showings this year, including a fourth place finish at the Wildflower Long Course triathlon. Rapp has been focusing on this race, and has a great chance at his first Ironman win on Sunday. The final contender is American Mark Van Akkeren. Van Akkeren led much of the race last year before surrendering to Rhodes, and will be looking to lead to the race all the way to the finish line.

Dark horses in the men’s race include Germany’s Andi Boecherer, Ukraine’s Andriy Yastrebov, Korea’s Byung Hoo Park and Canadian Scott Curry.

The favorite for the women’s race is returning champ Granger. Despite a season plagued with surgery and a car crash, Granger won Ironman Malaysia and Ironman 70.3 Hawaii. Canadian Tereza Macel destroyed the competition a month ago at Ironman Lake Placid, and will be looking for that same success in her home country. Other top competitors for the women include Americans Amanda Lovato and Katya Meyers, and Canadians Sara Gross, Tara Norton, Rachel Kiers and Christine Fletcher.

Ironman Louisville Preview

About 2400 miles away from Penticton, athletes will compete in the third annual Ironman Louisville Triathlon in Louisville, Kentucky. Returning champs Maximilian Longree of Germany and Mariska Kramer-Postma of the Netherlands will have to turn in top performances in order to defend their titles.

Longree’s competition includes Australia’s Luke McKenzie. McKenzie already has already won Ironman Malaysia and Ironman Japan, and will be looking for the rare feat of winning three Ironman races in one season. South Africa’s Raynard Tissink, Canada’s Dave Harju and Australia’s Justin Granger will all look to mix up the podium.

Kramer-Posta’s biggest threats include Germany’s Nina Kraft, Brazil’s Fernanda Keller and Denmark’s Lisbeth Kristensen.

Check back to Triathletemag.com for photos and recaps of both races.