It’s the final countdown to this year’s Ironman 70.3 World Champs, and defending champions Javier Gomez (ESP) and Daniela Ryf (SUI) will have a tough race on their hands in Austria next weekend (30 August).
This will be the first time Europe has hosted what many see as the pinnacle of middle-distance racing (1.9km swim/90km bike/21.1km run) – last year’s race took place in Mont-Tremblant, Canada, and it has previously always taken place in the US.
Since the series began in 2006, the Ironman 70.3 World Championship has been controlled by Australia (five champions), Germany (four champions) and Great Britain (three champions). The United States has had two winners with Canada and New Zealand each having one winner.
Gomez lines up against some tough Germans, including reigning king of Kona Sebastian Kienle, Beijing 2008 gold medalist Jan Frodeno and last year’s Challenge Bahrain winner Michael Raelert.
Also in the mix will be Australia’s Tim Reed, Belgium’s Bart Aernouts from Uplace-BMC and Terenzo Bozzone (NZL), who won Challenge Dubai earlier this year. Two Brits are on the men’s start list: Tim Don and Ritchie Nicholls.
While Ryf is undoubtedly favourite for the women’s race, no fewer than five Brits will be trying to stop her: Jodie Swallow, who must fancy her chances of winning after coming second in Mont-Tremblant last year, along with Susie Cheetham, Parys Edwards, Emma-Kate Lidbury and Holly Lawrence.
Other speedy females will include Meredith Kessler (USA), Heather Wurtele (CAN), Camilla Pedersen and Mary Beth Ellis (USA). For the complete start list, head here.
That’s not all though – with 2,700 athletes expected to race in Zell am See-Kaprun, the vast majority will be age-groupers. Around 130,000 athletes race 70.3 around the world each year, so just getting to the start line is a huge achievement.
The United States will supply the most (629 registered competitors), followed by Germany (308), Australia (237) and Great Britain (214). Other athletes from countries as far as Macau, Vietnam and Guam are traveling around the globe for their shot at the title.
The 2015 Ironman 70.3 World Championship can be viewed race day on www.ironman.com, and 220 Triathlon will be right there on race day to bring you live coverage on Twitter and race reports on 220triathlon.com.
Are you racing in Austria next weekend? Let us know in the comments below!