Race Analysis: Ironman Australia + Wildflower

Photo Credit: Jason Lentzke, Age group athletes tackle the 2.2 mile run from the water to their bikes

Two big races are looming on the horizon (St. George and IM Texas) so this weekend the racing in North America is all about Wildflower. It seems that TriCal is sick of Jesse Thomas winning every year so they brought in the course record holder, Terenzo Bozzone, to challenge him. However, the swim-run-bike-run set up is not the course Bozzone raced in 2006 and the run after the swim plays to Thomas’ strengths. It’s going to be a battle and perhaps, with IM Lanzarote loaming on the horizon for Thomas, someone else can finally rise the banner at Lake San Antonio. Dark Mark claimed it would be him, but he was not on the released list???

Liz Lyles is returning to defend the title she stole from Heather Jackson in the final 200 meters last year. Lyles has had a slower start to the year but is building momentum into IM Brazil at end of the month. This course is suited for her and most likely, she will be strong on Saturday. Laurel Wassner was 4th last year and loves all the hills on the course. Lauren Goss was not on the original list but she is planning to make her first start at this iconic race. She is coming off a podium at St. Anthonys and if anyone is wondering whether she is good at hard, hilly races, she won St. Croix 70.3 last year. Robin Pomerroy, Emily Cocks and Mackenzie Madison make up a list of challengers for a top 5 placing.

It is fall in Australia and that means Port Macquarie is getting ready to host a solid field for an end of season (in the southern hemisphere) Ironman. Josh Amberger is lining up for his debut Ironman and as one of the best swim/cyclists in the sport he will be out in front at the start. However, with a debut Ironman, the question is pacing and nutrition—will he get it right? If Tim Reed didn’t overtrain he will be a threat, especially after a strong outing at Oceanside, finishing in 2nd place. Dougal Allan lit up the bike courses at Wanaka and New Zealand so look for him to be making his moves before the field hits the run course.

The start list on the women’s side is not as long but there are some strong athletes lining up for the race. Gina Crawford has had a subpar start to the year but if she gets her issues sorted she can take the title. However, she is going to be contending with a hard charging Beth Gerdes, who has not raced an Ironman since Kona and is rested and refreshed. Michelle Bremer is the defending champion and won’t give up that stop too easily. Dimity-Lee Duke and Lisa Marangon will be in the mix on Sunday as well.

There are three other 70.3s this weekend–Busselton in Western Australia and Pays d’Aix and Mallorca in Europe. Here’s what you need to know: Andreas Dreitz tore it up at Oceanside and Galveston, and is starting in Mallorca. He will be challenged by Tim Don and Bart Aernouts. In addition, hiding on the women’s list is Nicola Spirig, who broke her hand at WTS Abu Dhabi. If she starts, there is no doubt that Brett Sutton thinks this is a good way to kick start a solid bit of training leading into her gold medal defense at the Olympics in Rio.

Ironman Australia

Beth G

Beth Gerdes

You haven’t done an Ironman distance race since Kona. How important was this break from IM racing and training for a strong 2016? I can imagine that after lining up for 6 (we can count Malaysia as part of the year) Ironman distance races in one year it was really important to take a step back and let the body recover. It’s not only the racing, but the Ironman builds that can be tough on the mind and body, correct?

Having a break after Kona was really important to me. I had raced a ton over the end of 2014 and all through 2015 (yes, 6 IM starts as you mentioned. So, I really took a solid off season of time with my family, planning and executing the Island House Triathlon. The big break allowed me to hit 2016 refreshed and really build into the year. I didn’t start doing any of the super long Ironman training (ie. 5-6 hour rides or 2+ hour runs until 10 weeks out from IM Australia. I can’t mentally sustain high volume year-round so it has been nice to compartmentalize it!

You are driving down to Port Macquarie with Wynne this week—what do you have to keep her busy in the car? I can imagine that as a active almost 2 year old she will have trouble sitting still for 8 hours?

The big car ride with Wynne (8 hours!) is tomorrow so we will see- it could be tougher than Ironman. I am armed with Peppa Pig episodes on the ipad, but I still need to download some toddler tunes for the stereo tonight!

Have you thought about what you are doing racing wise are IM Australia? Will you head back up to train in North America after Luke races IM Cairns in June?

After IM Australia, the plan is another small break, then IM Switzerland in mid-July. Luke will be racing IM Cairns mid-June, so I will play support crew!

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This weekly podcast is your source for all information related to upcoming races in the world of Professional Triathlon. We will bring you analysis on how the races could play out, start list updates and input from the Professional athletes themselves. Hosted by Zach Miller, age group athlete and triathlon enthusiast and featuring input from Emily Cocks, a professional triathlete herself.

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Zach Miller
Zach Miller is a sports enthusiast and age group triathlete living in the The Woodlands, TX. He is the Host of The Triathlon Preview Show. Follow @trifantasy The Triathlon Preview Show: iTunes Podcast
Emily is a professional triathlete and swim coach living in Napa, CA. Emily swam for the University of Michigan and completed her first tri in 2004 at the Chicago Triathlon. She worked for seven years as a paralegal, followed by three years as an Assistant Swim Coach for the University of Illinois-Chicago. Presently, she lives and trains in Napa, California while working for the Napa Valley Swim Team and coaching several age group triathletes.