Carfrae and Steffen to duke it out at Ironman Melbourne

We look ahead to Sunday’s race, when reigning Kona queen Mirinda Carfrae will try to beat defending champ Caroline Steffen

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This year’s first Ironman regional champs will get underway in Melbourne, Australia on Sunday (22 March), with a furious battle expected in the women’s race between Kona 2014 winner Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) and defending champ Caroline Steffen (SUI).

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Held since 2012, Ironman Melbourne begins with a one-loop 3.8km sea swim off the coast of Frankston, a town south of Melbourne, followed by a 180km two-lap bike route along the Eastlink Tollway, a major expressway closed for race day. The point-to-point 42.2km run also starts in Frankston and finishes in the beachside neighbourhood of St Kilda.

Steffen has reached the podium for the past three years running, winning twice (2012 and 2014) and placing third in 2013. Carfrae on the other hand has never won it, her best result in Melbourne being bronze in 2012.

“I feel that Ironman Melbourne is my race,” says Steffen. “Every pro likes to pick one race to call their own. I do that with Ironman Melbourne.”

Other female contenders include Melissa Hauschildt (AUS), who won Ironman Australia last year, and Britain’s Emma Pooley, who won Challenge Philippines last month in some hot and challenging conditions and races on Sunday seeded seventeenth. For the full start list head here.

In the men’s race, Germany’s Nils Frommhold gets the number one slot, after winning Ironman South Africa last year and placing sixth in Kona. His rivals include Tim Van Berkel (AUS), who placed seventh in Kona, and Luke Bell (AUS), who was crowned Ironman 70.3 World Champ in 2013.

Up for grabs at the Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship on Sunday will be 75 qualifying slots for this year’s Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii – down from 100 last year, as is the case with all M-dot regional championships this year:

– Ironman African Championship – South Africa; March 29, 2015
– Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship – Melbourne; March 22, 2015
– Ironman North American Championship – Texas; May 16, 2015
– Ironman Latin American Championship – Brazil; May 31, 2015
– Ironman European Championship – Frankfurt; July 5, 2015

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Will you be racing Ironman Melbourne this weekend? Let us know in the comments below!