So my pick for Kona.. it's a tough one this year actually! No one really stands out this year, I think Craig Alexander is pushing age now and starting his roller coaster results that come with it, as good as he's been and tough as he is, it will be an amazing feat as a just turned 40yr old... Pete Jacobs has had a tough year and will battle to defend, has been very light on races and results this year, but is coming up into form at the right time, however, is it too little too late. Enoko Llanos might be the pic with current form/results this year without really being the big time amazballs athlete that the raelert bros are, but he is good at all 3 disciplines. Can't look past the debut ITU boys (Bevan Docherty and Ivan Rana) with there speed, amazing swim ability and motivation to race hard and fast. But will experience (lack of) and conditions of Kona (hot and windy) play its 'do the time before you succeed at the crime' card for this year. Andy Raelert needs to win this year if he ever will. Two 3rds and two 2nds in the past 4yrs won't do much for confidence, so this has to be it. he is one of the most talented and hard racing athletes on the circuit and fastest ever ironman distance athlete with his 7hr 41mins from Roth 2011, the pressure is on to put it together here. I'd like him to win, but I'd pick Sebastian Kenle based on current from, awesome bike-ness and having just won 70.3 world champs. The podium will be Sebastian Kenle, Andreas Raelert and Bevan Docherty, and with one of the defending Aussies Craig or Pete running hard into top 5, but in which order???
Caroline Steffen has to be the pic for the ladies this year. Strong as nails in the closing stages, and good across the board without a major weakness. Miranda Carfrae will be the big threat for the win from behind with her mazing sub 3hr run-ability, but will she be close enough from the bike to pull it out. To do so, she'll need a sub 2h 55 run from a no more than 10min deficit. Mary Beth-Ellis could be a boom or bust depending on how she has recovered from broken clavicle and how affected her swim is. If she's not in the lead 2 groups out of the swim, it will be a tough comeback from there. Rachel Joyce has the speed and ability across all 3 disciplines, and has been on the improve from year to year at this race. but can she handle the conditions and really put it together in Kona in 2013. Leanda Cave hasn't had the best start to the year but is rounding into form nicely and showed her true grit in the final 10mi to hang on to win. She'l, be near the front during the swim and bike, but if she's more than 5mins back, she wont feature. Kiwi girls Gina Crawford and Britta Martin could be an outside top 5 showing. Gina Crawford has yet to nail her race here, but she is consistently on the podium with all her ironman races she does each year. Britta has never raced here so it may not be her year just yet, but she is tough and small so may handle the winds and heat okay. The podium will be Caroline Steffen, Miranda Carfrae and Rachel Joyce with one of the kiwi girls top 5...
NB's Kona ironman preview