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Stellar Field Lining Up In St. George Saturday

A who’s who of triathlon will descend on the small Utah town for a shot at 1,500 KPR points and a share of the $100,000 prize purse.

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The sport’s best will race this weekend at the Ironman 70.3 North American Pro Championships.

A who’s who of triathlon will descend on a small town in southern Utah this Saturday for a shot at 1,500 KPR points and a share of the $100,000 prize purse.

St. George, which has hosted the championship-level race since the distance was reduced from an Ironman to a half in 2013, promises to make athletes fight for the title. The course is one of the most challenging on the Ironman 70.3 circuit, with unrelenting climbs and historically hot conditions.

The stacked professional fields feature Ironman world champions, former Olympians, and a Triple Crown Champion. View the full pro start list here.

Women’s Race

Meredith Kessler
2014 result: 1st
Coach: Matt Dixon
The three-time St. George winner and veteran pro will return to defend her title for the fourth consecutive year (she also won the race when it was a full Ironman in 2012). Kessler’s year has started with a bangin addition to winning Ironman 70.3 Auckland in January, Kessler took her fourth consecutive win at Ironman New Zealand in March.

Mirinda Carfrae
2014 result: Did not race
Coach: Siri Lindley
The current Ironman world champion will put her early-season fitness to the test during her first outing to St. George. Carfrae’s roots are in 70.3 racing and she’ll be out to prove she is still a force at this distance. Though Carfrae is not likely to lead the women out of the water or on the bike, look for her to pick off her competitors during the final 13.1 milesCarfrae is one of the fastest runners in multisport today.

Jodie Swallow
2014 result: 2nd
Coach: Siri Lindley
After taking second place in St. George in 2014, Swallow is on a mission to stand on the top podium spot. She’s certainly a contender for the winlast month, Swallow won and set a new course record at Ironman 70.3 South Africa, which boasts an extremely hilly bike course comparable to St. George. Swallow will likely be one of the first females out of the water, and, if all goes well, could very well lead the way the rest of the race.

Heather Wurtele
2014 result: 3rd
Coach: Paulo Sousa
After several roller-coaster seasons, the Canadian’s past two years have been on a strictly upward trajectory, with six 70.3 victories and two wins at the full Ironman distance. In February, Wurtele took second place at the inaugural Challenge Dubai, a half Iron-distance race featuring a pro roster comparable to the one found in St. George. Wurtele also has a home-court advantage: Heather and her husband, fellow professional triathlete Trevor, live and train in St. George for several months out of the year.

Mary Beth Ellis
2014 result: 4th
Coach: Siri Lindley
A bike accident in late 2013 necessitated shoulder and collarbone surgery four weeks before the Ironman World Championships. Though Ellis deployed her signature grit to toe the line in Kona, her post-surgery pain proved to be too great, and Ellis marked her first career DNF. Her return to form included some strong showings in 2014, including a second-place finish at Ironman Asia-Pacific Championships and fifth place at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Mont-Tremblant. Expect Ellis to push the pace on the bikeclimbing is one of her biggest strengths, and there is plenty of climbing in St. George.

Rachel Joyce
2014 result: Did not race
Coach: Julie Dibens
After finishing on the Kona podium in the last two years, Joyce is looking to earn the number one spot in 2015. Though Joyce’s St. George debut will serve as a tune-up going into Ironman Texas on May 16, her fellow racers shouldn’t expect her to hold back: Joyce’s calm, polite demeanor is merely a foil for her fierce competitive fire.

Alicia Kaye
2014 result: Did not race
Coach: Joel Filliol
The Toyota Triple Crown champion planned to “dabble” in long-course this year for fun; however, drastic cuts to short-course, non-drafting opportunities pushed Kaye to register for St. George. Coasting off a dominating win at St. Anthony’s triathlon last weekend, Kaye is in the right mindset to do well on Saturday.

Annabel Luxford
2014 result: Did not race
Coach: Darren Smith
After a challenging Ironman debut in March, Luxford has said she hopes to use 70.3 racing as a method for gathering Kona points without racing another full Ironman. It’s a solid strategy for the former ITU star – in the last two years, the Australian has notched five first-place finishes in at the 70.3 distance. Luxford will likely set the tone for the day with a strong swim.

Linsey Corbin
2014 result: Did not race
Coach: Jesse Kropelnicki

The American record holder at the Ironman distance is going into St. George with more rest than planned for the start of 2015in March, a respiratory infection caused Corbin to withdraw from Ironman South Africa the day before the race. Now fully recovered, look for Corbin to release a lot of pent-up frustration (and fitness) on the course in St. George.

Other notable contenders: Magali Tisseyre, Svenja Bazlen, Melanie McQuaid, Beth Gerdes, Ruth Brennan-Morrey, Erika Csomor

RELATED – 2014 Kona Winner’s Gallery: Mirinda Carfrae

Men’s Race

Sebastian Kienle
2014 result: 10th
Coach: Lubos Bilek
The two-time Ironman 70.3 world champion and current Ironman world champion has been working to improve his swim to decrease the amount of energy required to catch up to (and pass) his competitors on the bike. This, in turn, could allow for a stronger run than ever.

Brent McMahon
2014 result: 2nd
Coach: Lance Watson
The two-time Olympian has found great success at the 70.3 distance, including a 2013 win at this race. The Canadian took second place in St. George last year behind Jan Frodeno, who will not return to defend his title. McMahon will likely unleash his ITU speed on the run course’s undulating hills in his quest to regain the championship.

Tim Don
2014 result: 3rd
Coach: Julie Dibens
The three-time Olympian and 70.3 Latin American champion is looking to add to his impressive resume with a win in St. George. He is currently on a winning streak at the 70.3 distance, taking top honors at four out of his last four appearances. The British triathlete placed third in St. George last year, and will be looking to top that appearance this weekend. Expect Don to set the stage for the race with a strong swim.

Ben Hoffman
2014 result: 6th
Coach: Elliot Bassett
The 2014 runner-up in Kona is a fixture in St. George. As a college student with the University of Montana Triathlon Team, Hoffman used to spend spring breaks training on the very roads utilized in Saturday’s race. As a pro, Hoffman has attended every incarnation of Ironman St. George since its debut in 2010 (including a win in 2012, when it was still a full-distance event).

Andreas Raelert
2014 result: Did not race
Coach: Wolfram Bott
The former Olympian has struggled with injuries for the past two years, but seems to be in good form going into Saturday’s race. He has entered St. George as a way to test his form before Ironman Texas, where he hopes to punch his ticket to Kona early in the season.

Tim Reed
2014 result: 14th
Coach: Matt Dixon
Reed already has two 70.3 wins under his belt in 2015 and could very likely pick up a third this weekend. The Australian consistently runs his way onto the podium at almost every 70.3 race he enters, making him a true threat to any athlete who beats him into T2.

Luke McKenzie
2014 result: Did not race
Coach: Self
McKenzie, who finished second at the 2013 Ironman World Championship, has not raced in St. George. Still, he’s no stranger to tough courses – recently, the Australian took third on the tough climbs and 100-degree temperatures at Challenge Phuket, followed by 4th-place finishes on challenging 70.3 courses in Pucon, Chile, and Subic Bay, Phillipines.

Kevin Collington
2014 result: Did not race
Coach: Matt Dixon
The former ITU racer was a relative unknown when he took second place (and top American) in St. George in 2013. Since then, he has quietly built a reputation for himself at the 70.3 distance. 2015 is off to a great start for Collington, who earned second place at Ironman 70.3 Monterrey.

Other notable contenders: Tyler Butterfield, Leon Griffin, Paul Matthews, Victor Del Corral, Ben Collins, Trevor Wurtele, Kyle Buckingham

RELATED – 2014 Kona Winner’s Gallery: Sebastian Kienle

2015 Ironman 70.3 North American Championships Start Lists

Men
1 Sebastian Kienle (GER)
2 Brent McMahon (CAN)
3 Tim Don (GBR)
4 Ben Hoffman (USA)
6 Andreas Raelert (GER)
7 Tim Reed (AUS)
9 Luke McKenzie (AUS)
10 Kevin Collington (USA)
11 Tyler Butterfield (BER)
12 Leon Griffin (AUS)
14 Maik Twelsiek (GER)
15 Trevor Wurtele (CAN)
16 Andrew Yoder (USA)
17 Victor Del Corral Morales (ESP)
18 Ben Collins (USA)
19 Kyle Buckingham (RSA)
20 Damon Barnett (USA)
21 Jon Bird (CAN)
22 Keith Butsko (USA)
23 Nicholas Chase (USA)
24 Kevin Everett (USA)
26 Chris Leiferman (USA)
27 James Lubinski (USA)
28 Mauricio Mendez Cruz (MEX)
29 Brandon Rakita (USA)
30 Taylor Reid (CAN)
31 Evert Scheltinga (NED)
33 Todd Skipworth (AUS)
34 Roman Thuerauer (AUT)
36 Dantley Young (USA)

Women
45 Meredith Kessler (USA)
46 Mirinda Carfrae (AUS)
47 Jodie Swallow (GBR)
48 Heather Wurtele (CAN)
49 Mary Beth Ellis (USA)
50 Svenja Bazlen (GER)
51 Annabel Luxford (AUS)
52 Rachel Joyce (GBR)
53 Magali Tisseyre (CAN)
54 Linsey Corbin (USA)
56 Alicia Kaye (USA)
57 Ricarda Lisk (GER)
58 Melanie McQuaid (CAN)
60 Ruth Brennan-Morrey (USA)
62 Katy Carguilo (USA)
63 Erika Csomor (HUN)
65 Lisa Roberts (USA)
67 Beth Gerdes (USA)
68 Anna Halasz (HUN)
69 Sarah Jarvis (GER)
70 Annett Kamenz (GER)
71 Kara LaPoint (USA)
72 Holly Lawrence (GBR)
74 Jennifer Spieldenner (USA)
75 Lauren Thompson (USA)

RELATED PHOTOS: 2014 Ironman 70.3 St. George