Following yesterday’s pick of the ten men likely to picking up prize money in Hawaii in just over a week’s time, 220 columnist Tim Heming takes a gander at the women’s race, and reveals who he thinks will be running first down Ali’i Drive…
In contrast to the men’s race, which looks wide open, this year the women’s race definitely has a favourite – defending champ Mirinda Carfrae from Australia. However, there will be a smaller yet equally competitive class of triathlete in pursuit, with Britain’s Rachel Joyce just one of many names to watch out for.
Here are my predictions for the top 10, counting down to the athlete I think is most likely to scoop the big prize. Aloha to all involved and Mahalo for reading...
10. Corinne Abraham, 36, Great Britain
Abraham might be making her Kona debut but the former judoka has been adapting on the Big Island for weeks to leave no lava rock unturned in her quest. What’s enabled such slick preparation is her success in winning the big points race, Ironman Frankfurt, in July, and also the support afforded by the new Uplace-BMC team that have brought together 10 elite long distance athletes for 2014 and reaped multiple race wins in their first year.
After winning Ironman Melbourne in 2013 with a breakthrough performance, injury put paid to her Hawaii hopes, yet Abraham proved with this summer’s success in Germany that she is no fluke performer and has been able to make Kona her entire focus.
An intense athlete, the unknown is how she responds to the demands of race day, including the heat and humidity. What is for certain is she’ll need a better performance than the third place in Ironman Lanzarote in 9:51 in May to have a chance of cracking the top 10.
9. Leanda Cave, 36, Great Britain
The 2012 winner struggled with injury throughout 2013 and may regret even attempting to defend her crown when hampered by a lack of training she filed in 12th female pro. This season was interrupted with the Commonwealth Games selection debacle, where Cave was successfully winning ITU races, only to be thwarted by a communication breakdown with Welsh HQ, yet the last few months have seen an upturn in form and fortune.
She’s back where she’s happiest as the master of her own destiny, and despite only having to complete at Ironman Sweden to validate her place, she determinedly raced it and won in 8:56. Cave will be far stronger than last year, so expect a solid performance but probably not one that will trouble the podium.
8. Caitlin Snow, 32, USA
With Mirinda Carfrae and the now-retired Chrissie Wellington so fleet of foot, the bar has been raised for the women’s race in Kona and it’s now nigh on impossible to win without a stellar run. Thankfully for Snow, from Massachusetts, she has this in her armoury.
Last year a 2:58 marathon moved her up to sixth and in Nice earlier this year she pulled out a 2:52 - the fastest Ironman clocking of the year. Yet being in the mix to win Kona is entirely different from chasing down higher prize money slots and a 9:10 finish – almost 18 minutes behind Carfrae – showed she was never really in the hunt.
While she’ll have been working hard on the bike leg, making it stick on the Big Island is the acid test. One added incentive is being first American home, a feat she achieved last year by running down Meredith Kessler in the closing stages and although the race location doesn’t lend itself to huge crowds, the stars and stripes connection will make for added support.
Click here to continue reading our predictions for this year's Kona