220’s Kona predictions: the men

With Macca back to try and match Crowie’s Kona crown tally of three, this year’s Ironman World Championship promises to be one hell of a scrap. Here are 220's male predictions…

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THE CONTENDERS

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Craig Alexander. Age 39, Australian. Kona best: 3 x Champion, 2008, 2009 and 2011

His 8:03:56 clocking last year was a Kona record and 2012 has seen him take the win and joining the hallowed sub-8hr iron-distance club at Ironman Melbourne.

Pete Jacobs. Age 30, Australian. Kona best: 2nd, 2011

The fastest runner for the past two seasons, the key to Jacob’s success will be on two wheels.

Chris McCormack. Age 39, Australian. Kona best: 2 x Champion, 2007, '10

Two-time champ but has spent most of the last 18 months racing ITU in a failed attempt to make the Australian Olympic team.

Andreas Raelert. Age 36, German. Kona best: 2nd, 2010

2011 was set to be the Kona crowning of Andreas Raelert – but Craig Alexander and Pete Jacobs hadn’t read the script and third followed.

Marino Vanhoenacker. Age 36, Belgian. Kona best: 3rd, 2010

The Belgian has had three top-six Kona finishes and  beat the best German athletes in Frankfurt this year.

220'S PREDICTIONS

James Witts, Editor

1. Andreas Raelert

Yes, all the signs are that Crowie will make it win number four but, for the third year in a row, I'm betting our art ed's dungeon on the 36-year-old German. Two thirds and a second in the past three years show his Kona credentials, and he should come into the race fresh after a sole full Ironman 2012 attempt at Frankfurt in July. Granted, a bike crash in Germany left him down in fourth with a badly bruised hip, but that soon healed and reports suggest he's shaken off a thigh injury that delayed the start of his 2012 season. Along with his brother, Michael, he also opted to train in St Moritz to elicit the benefits of altitude. The last multisport bros to do the same? Alistair and Jonny Brownlee. A Raelert win here will make Switzerland the must-train location for the world's elite!

2. Craig Alexander

On paper/online the M-Dot-branded pointers indicate the 39-year-old Aussie will retain his Kona crown and, in the process, record his fourth Hawaii victory. His best-ever start to a long-course season saw him break 8hrs at Ironman Melbourne (7:57:44), propelled by a 2:38hr marathon. Since then he's raced little, though freshened up for Hawaii with second at the recent Ironman 70.3 World Champs. Last year he took the Vegas crown but his time matched 2011's effort. The fact he's had an extra year to accustom his aero position to his Shiv – after 2011's much-publicised breakdown with Orbea – means he's red-hot favourite. Hard to bet against… but where's the fun in pitching for the favourite?

3. Chris McCormack

Okay, he's spent the last year reviving his fast-twitchers for his (ultimately) futile pursuit of an Aussie Olympic slot, but experience and competitive spirit count for a lot in the oppressive environs of Kona. On those counts Macca's off the scale. Clearly the heavy volume work required to lay the foundations of a Hawaii triumph wouldn't have been possible  – while his rivals were riding for 6hrs-plus, Macca trawled the world in search of Olympic-distance World Series points. But at 39, his engine's not going to diminish from a Bloodhound to a Fiat Panda in 12 months. After a tumultuous season, you could argue that third here would be his biggest Kona achievement to date.

Liz Barrett, Deputy Editor

1. Andreas Raelert 

2. Craig Alexander

3. Chris McCormack

Matt Baird, Section and Online Editor

1. Marino Vanhoenacker

2. Craig Alexander

3. Eneko Llanos

Mike Anderson, Editorial Assistant

1. Craig Alexander

2. Andreas Raelert

3. Pete Jacobs

Agree or disagree? Head to the 220 forum to join the debate.

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Image: ITU