Top Pro Field Set To Take On Ironman 70.3 California

Americans Andy Potts and Heather Jackson come in as the defending champions and the ones to beat on Saturday.

Photo: Competitive Image

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Americans Andy Potts and Heather Jackson come in as the defending champions and the ones to beat on Saturday.

As the unofficial kick-off race for the North American triathlon season, Ironman 70.3 California has traditionally welcomed a top-notch professional field to Oceanside and this year will be no exception.

Highlighting the men’s pro field is five-time Oceanside winner Andy Potts. Potts is coming off of an injury that forced him to make a race-morning decision to pull out of the Ironman World Championship in October. The biggest competition for Potts will likely come from reigning two-time Ironman 70.3 world champion Sebastian Kienle. Although the German struggled early in the 2013 season, he once again dominated the world championship race in Vegas in the fall—will he have an easier time finding his early-season form this year? Like Kienle, Australia’s Pete Jacobs struggled with injury after earning a world championship title late in 2012, but unlike Kienle he has yet to return to the fitness that gave him the title.

Two athletes who showed what they are capable of at last year’s Ironman 70.3 U.S. Championships in St. George are Brent McMahon (CAN) and Kevin Collington (USA). McMahon won, while Collington finished second in a field that was just as competitive as this one. This year marks the first full season that Germany’s Jan Frodeno, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist, will commit to long-distance racing with the goal of qualifying for Kona. He’s well on his way, with a win at the Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championships in Auckland back in January. Others to watch for include Matt Reed (USA), Jordan Rapp (USA), Joe Gambles (AUS), Andrew Starykowicz (USA), Ben Hoffman (USA), Trevor Wurtele (CAN), Leon Griffin (AUS), Matt Chrabot (USA), Matt Lieto (USA) and Will Clarke (GBR).

RELATED VIDEO: Pete Jacobs On 70.3 California Goals

In the women’s race, 2013 Oceanside winner Heather Jackson (USA) will be the one to beat. Though she’s relocated to Bend, Ore., this used to be her hometown course and she has plenty of experience riding the hills of Camp Pendleton, with two second places and a win here. Last year’s runner-up, Heather Wurtele (CAN), is back again and will once again be a threat, proven she’s early-season ready with a recent win (and 1:19 run split) at Monterrey 70.3 a couple weeks ago. Both Heathers will have to work hard out of the water to catch super swimmer Meredith Kessler (USA). Kessler, the reigning Ironman 70.3 U.S. champion will likely have a several-minute advantage in T1 and will look to hold onto the gap throughout the 56-mile bike ride. Another former 70.3 U.S. champion to watch is American Kelly Williamson, who typically exits the swim near the front. She’s struggled to keep pace on the bike in past races, but her swim and run are capable of putting her in contention. Perhaps challenging Williamson for the fastest run split on the flat Oceanside course will be American Caitlin Snow.

Without question, the biggest unknown on this Oceanside start list is former Ironman 70.3 world champion Julie Dibens (GBR). She hasn’t competed in a 70.3 race since 2011. If she can replicate the form she showed before undergoing knee and foot surgery in early 2012, she’s capable of establishing a monster lead off of the bike and holding on for the win. Finally, look for Canada’s Melanie McQuaid to try to show the skills that gave her the win at this race in 2012. Others podium contenders include Liz Lyles (USA), Laurel Wassner (USA), Jenny Fletcher (CAN), Rachel McBride (CAN) and Sophie De Groote (BEL).

RELATED VIDEO: Heather Jackson On The Pressure To Defend

Men’s Start List
1 Andy Potts USA
3 Sebastian Kienle DEU
4 Pete Jacobs AUS
5 Matt Reed USA
6 Jordan Rapp USA
7 Joe Gambles AUS
8 Andrew Starykowicz USA
9 Maik Twelsiek DEU
10 Jan Frodeno DEU
11 Ben Hoffman USA
12 Trevor Wurtele CAN
13 Leon Griffin AUS
14 Matt Chrabot USA
15 Matt Lieto USA
16 Anthony Toth CAN
17 Albert Moreno ESP
18 Hector Guerra ESP
19 Stephen Kilshaw CAN
21 Kevin Collington USA
22 Karl Bordine USA
23 Kyle Hughes USA
24 Will Clarke GBR
25 Nicholas Chase USA
26 Ian Mikelson USA
27 Dantley Young USA
28 Kyle Leto USA
29 Keith Butsko USA
30 Jared Milam USA
31 James Seear AUS
32 Nathan Dressel USA
33 Jens Toft Allerup DNK
34 Randy Arriola USA
35 Gregory Farrell AUS
36 Yu Hsiao USA
37 Joerie Vansteelant BEL
38 Victor Debil-Caux FRA
39 Brent McMahon CAN

Women’s Start List
41 Heather Jackson USA
42 Heather Wurtele CAN
43 Meredith Kessler USA
44 Melanie McQuaid CAN
45 Kelly Williamson USA
46 Julie Dibens GBR
47 Caitlin Snow USA
48 Liz Lyles USA
49 Jenny Fletcher CAN
50 Adrienne Smith USA
51 Charisa Wernick USA
52 Christina Jackson USA
53 Jessica Meyers USA
54 Jennifer Spieldenner USA
55 Laurel Wassner USA
56 Amelia McCracken USA
57 Emily Cocks USA
58 Sarah Graves USA
59 Kirsty Smith USA
60 Sophie de Groote BEL
61 Rachel McBride CAN
62 Moka Best USA

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