The Triathlete magazine staff gives their picks for the Ironman World Championship podium. Who do you think go it right?
Julia Polloreno @JuliaPolloreno
Editor-in-chief, Triathlete magazine
1. Craig Alexander (AUS): The consummate professional, he’ll come prepared and execute the race to his own plan. Crowie is a mental warrior that doesn’t let anybody get into his head.
2. Andreas Raelert (GER): Because everyone should fear the iron-distance world-record holder. He’s come so close the last two years (2nd and 3rd), and he’s proven time and again his Ironman frontrunner chops.
3. Marino Vanhoenacker (BEL): He also brings world-record holder cache (Raelert broke Vanhoenacker’s record) and is an all-around athlete that knows what a podium performance demands here (he was 3rd in 2010).
1. Mirinda Carfrae (AUS): Kona proven, Pele approved. If Rinny has a good swim and comes off the bike toward the front, she’ll be hard to run down.
2. Rachel Joyce (GBR): Going 6th, 5th and 4th in previous successive Konas, it’s only natural that her next finish spot be atop the podium. Rachel has been having an exceptional season, and her recent altitude training only makes her more dangerous.
3. Linsey Corbin (USA): Because there just has to be an American on this list. I saw Linsey recently, and there is an unmistakable fire in her eyes after not getting to finish the 70.3 world championships in Vegas. The girl is ready for a take-no-prisoners race!
Aaron Hersh @Triathletetech
Senior Editor, Triathlete magazine & Inside Triathlon magazine
1. Andreas Raelert (GER): Without the massive mid-season Ironman performance he had last year, Raelert’s combination of all-around fitness and experience should be on display thanks to fresher legs.
2. Craig Alexander (AUS): More pressure, less cooperation from the others and another year in the legs–Crowie is still the favorite but faces longer odds than last year.
3. Dirk Bockel (LUX): He has quietly established himself as a consistent top performer on the bike and run in Hawaii.
1. Mirinda Carfrae (AUS): Even though she hasn’t had a great season so far, she is the class of the field.
2. Caroline Steffen (SUI): Very tough racing schedule this year could make it hard for her to ascend to Carfrae’s level.
3. Mary Beth Ellis (USA): The American is now an Ironman vet with a small body ideally suited to the conditions in Kona. She could be Sutton’s next superstar.
Jené Shaw @Trimagjene
Senior Editor, Triathlete magazine
1. Craig Alexander (AUS): If I tried to vote against Crowie I’d be lying for the sake of variety. Such a well-rounded, classy and tough athlete.
2. Pete Jacobs (AUS): Even though other athletes have had solid years, Jacobs gets my consistency vote for showing he knows how to race on the Big Island.
3. Chris McCormack (AUS): As long as he has the Macca fighting attitude in him that day, those legs have more short-course speedwork in them than in the past. I think he’ll make up some ground on the run, but can he take the fastest run of the day from Pete Jacobs?
1. Mirinda Carfrae (AUS): The nutrition issues at 70.3 Worlds means she’s coming in fresher than some of her competitors, and her bike-focused training will hopefully pay off this year.
2. Kelly Williamson (USA): As an Austin girl, the heat doesn’t affect her as much as others, and she’s shown bike progress to go along with her fastest-by-a-lot run splits across both the Olympic (Hy-Vee) and 70.3 distance. Hopefully she can better her 13th place from 2011 and run her way up to second.
3. Rachel Joyce (GBR): There are so many women I would put in this spot, but I’ll go with consistency: It’s only right that she completes the trend after a 6-5-4 placing in the past few years, right?
Steve Godwin @Sgodwinfilms
Senior Video Producer
1. Andreas Raelert (GER): 2nd, 2nd, 3rd in last 3 years. This is his year. He’s coming in fresh. No late Ironman or Challenge Roth this year. Michael is the x-factor that pushes him to the top.
2. Craig Alexander (AUS): The defending champ consistently turns in great performances every year. This year Crowie will not be able to hold off a hungrier Andreas Raelert.
3. Chris McCormack (AUS): @MaccaNow should be @MaccaKnows because there is no one better at race tactics and knowing how to put himself in the best possible position for the win. There is no doubt that Macca knows how to get the job done and this year the 2010 Champion comes to Kona with improved run speed from training for ITU races. I’m not convinced that he can hold it for 26.2. It’s been two years since he’s tried to ride and run with Crowie and Andreas. Tired legs after the long fast bike ride will slow Macca after the energy lab.
1. Mirinda Carfrae (AUS): The 2010 champion knows how to prepare for the big race and has the results to prove it. 2nd, 1st, 2nd in last 3 years. She has spent time this year on improving on the bike and is focused to deliver her best performance come Saturday. Caroline will not be able to get that gap on the bike like she did in Melbourne. Mirinda will still need to dig deep and do whatever it takes to run her way to the front.
2. Caroline Steffen (SUI): Caroline has had an amazing 2012 year and has shown what she can do on her best day. Caroline knows she needs to put time into Mirinda on the bike. I don’t believe it will be enough to hold off a charging Rinny.
3. Leanda Cave (GBR): Super Bird may not be the best swimmer, cyclist or runner in the sport but she could be the best all around triathlete. Leanda has the ability to be a factor in every race she enters. She will have to hold off a large group of girls vying for a podium spot like Linsey Corbin, Mary Beth Ellis and Meredith Kessler. Leanda’s strength on the bike and true grit on the run will win her a podium finish.
Kurt Hoy @Kurthoy
Group Content Director
1. Andreas Raelert (GER): Andreas has been capable of winning Kona for two years. Now he’s ready to win Kona.
2. Craig Alexander (AUS): Barring anything unplanned, Crowie will be running it out with Andreas for one of the top two spots—and the closest men’s race in Kona history.
3. Andi Bocherer (GER): Because he’ll put himself into position, and he hasn’t yet been given a reason to believe he can’t win.
1. Caroline Steffen (SUI): Sometimes it is about the bike. And, Melbourne … and Frankfurt. Staggered start times will work against her.
2. Mirinda Carfrae (AUS): Bike is still an unknown. She’ll be fresh after dropping out of Vegas.
3. Mary Beth Ellis (USA): Timing is everything.
Bethany Mavis @Bethanymavis
Associate Editor, Triathlete magazine & Inside Triathlon magazine
1. Pete Jacobs (AUS): This is going to be, as many have predicted, a runner’s race. I can see Jacobs capitalizing on his race-best marathon speed last year to take the win this year.
2. Andreas Raelert (GER): Andreas’ mid-season world-record-breaking performance seemed to have hurt his Kona race last year. I think he’ll move a step up the podium this year.
3. Craig Alexander (AUS): Last year felt like Crowie’s swan song–it was an amazing race. I think he’ll have a great race, but not make it to the top of the podium.
1. Caroline Steffen (SUI): I think Xena will learn from her race last year, stick to her game plan, and Brett Sutton will have another Ironman world champ on his team.
2. Mirinda Carfrae (AUS): I think it could be a close race, and if Rinny doesn’t win, she’ll be a close second. She’s more efficient on the bike, saving her legs for the run, so she’ll probably break her own run course record for the fourth year in a row.
3. Mary Beth Ellis (USA): Maybe a bit of a sentimental pick. I’d love to see an American on the podium this year, and I think MB has the best shot.
Liz Hichens @Lizhichens
Web Producer, Triathlete.com
1. Andreas Raelert (GER): Winning in Kona is something that usually takes a few tries. I think he has the knowledge of the race and the drive to win to finally earn the top spot this year. An added bonus: I think his brother, Michael, is out there to fully support Andreas and having a teammate of sorts in this brutal race can only help.
2. Craig Alexander (AUS): Crowie is as consistent as they come, but I think he’ll come up a little short to Andreas. It sounds like this is his last race in Kona and he’ll fight all the way to the finish line.
3. Andy Potts (USA): It seems like every year there is one surprise on the podium and I’m going with Potts this year. He used an interesting strategy (whether it was intentional or not is up for debate) and didn’t build a massive lead in the swim at 70.3 World Championships last month. He may do the same in Kona to conserve some energy and hang with the main pack on the bike. Regardless, it seems like Potts has quietly made this race more of a priority than he has in years past.
1. Mirinda Carfrae (AUS): I am torn between Carfrae and Steffen for this number one spot. I’m giving Carfrae the edge because I think she knows how to peak at the right time for the right race. I also think the 2010 champ is downplaying her progress on the bike.
2. Caroline Steffen (SUI): I believe Steffen is the best Ironman athlete on the starting line, but she’s peaked twice already this year and I think the result will be that she comes up a little short on the run.
3. Mary Beth Ellis (USA): Her debut last year was more of a test run of sorts after having to race so many Ironmans to earn the Kona qualification. She’s proven she’s one of the best at this distance. Regardless, I hope one of the nine Americans on the women’s start list crack this top-three.
Holly Bennett @Hollywoo2
Editor-at-large, Triathlete magazine
1. Craig Alexander (AUS): Quite simply, I think that if Crowie didn’t have the confidence, commitment and clear ability to do it again, he wouldn’t be here.
2. Pete Jacobs (AUS): While I feel certain that Pete can win Kona one day, I think he’ll have to settle for another record-setting run to 2nd this year.
3. Tom Lowe (GBR): My wild card pick for the top three, Lowe looks leaner and stronger than ever, he’s determined to upgrade last year’s 11th place and he’ll benefit from having 4x World Champ cheering karma (in the form of girlfriend Chrissie Wellington) on his side.
1. Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) 2. Rachel Joyce (GBR): Following form from 2011, the women’s race is where we’ll find the big drama this year – and why not an Iron War between top contenders Rinny and Rachel? Both have worked to address areas of weakness and will put the hammer down hard, culminating with a side-by-side duel in the final mile of the marathon. In the sprint finish, Rinny’s ITU background, coupled with her intense desire to reclaim the crown, will tip the odds in her favor to win.
3. Marty Beth Ellis (USA): Ellis may be soft spoken but she’s a hard-as-nails competitor with something to prove – that her 2011 15th place finish was a fluke and she firmly belongs at the pointy end of the top ten.