“Anything that gets your blood racing is probably worth doing.”

 –Raoul Duke, protagonist in Hunter S. Thompson’s novel “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”

 

And so goes the fortnight to the annual Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas, taking place Sunday. For the last few years the City of Sin (or rather, the rolling, desolate outskirts northeast of Henderson, Nevada) have served as a worthy replacement to the much-maligned worlds course in pancake-flat Clearwater, Florida. Vegas offered greater challenge: heat, hills, heat, heat, more heat….

This year’s is the Vegas finale, before the 70.3 world title departs and rotates annually to other global events in concert with the trend of many other international world championship events, with Mt. Tremblant, Quebec in Canada as the next stop next year. And as expected, it will serve up plenty of the desert’s renowned thermal convection. But it’s the all-star field that is going to keep things red hot.

Back to defend their worlds titles are Sebastian Kienle of Germany and Great Britain’s Leanda Cave. But as last year, when Kienle surprised many to take the win, there’s a fresh stable of names vying for the crowns. While the Hawaii Ironman dishes up a small segment of athletes who are expected in the top five, like turning a pair of eights at the blackjack table, this could go any number of ways.

THE MEN

 

The men’s field has unprecedented depth. Nobody now will be surprised to see bike powerhouse Sebastian Kienle blast his way through the bike and will do their damnest to staunch the flow of time from capture to T2 in order to give them a fighting chance during the run. Among those chasers will be names like former 70.3 World Champs Craig Alexander (AUS) and countrymates Joe Gambles, Paul Matthews and Greg Bennett, a seemingly resurgent Terenzo Bozzone (NZL), and Tim O’Donnell (USA).

But the biggest possible factor that may alter the race, right from the start, is the glut of short-course step-ups. Watch Olympians Bevan Docherty (NZL), Jan Frodeno (DEU),  Ruedi Wild (SWI), Ivan Rana (ESP), Ivan Vasiliev (RUS), Tim Don and Will Clarke (GBR) dash from Lake Las Vegas in 23 minutes, and you wouldn’t be wrong if you’d mistaken the race for an ITU WCS event. Add former swim guns like Joey Lampe, Josh Amberger, Andy Potts and former ITU’er (and recent 70.3 St. George champ) Brett McMahon, and you could have a very select—and powerful—leading bike group that leaves some otherwise serious contenders rest in the desert dust.  Once on the run, it’s every man for himself.

 

THE WOMEN

 

The women’s field is equally as star-studded. Certainly your defending champ Cave is the most well-rounded front-to-back swim-bike-runner in the field and is the woman again to beat. But you have specialists like biker Heather Jackson (USA) who has transformed her run to become a weapon in a year’s time, and former 70.3 World Champ Melissa Hauschildt, the Australian steeplechaser with the deadliest run among the field. And no one will underestimate last year’s runner-up who kept a solid pace throughout the half marathon, American Kelly Williamson.

Other names that stand to make a dent in the podium are Heather Wurtele, Magali Tisseyre and Angela Naeth (CAN), Margie Shapiro and Laura Bennett (USA) and Emma-Kate Lidbury (GBR). Certainly of note is the presence of former short-courser Lisa Huetthaler, attempting to distance herself from a past that included time served on the sidelines after a positive EPO result, an attempted bribe of an official in the case, and accusations of an intentional crashing of a competitor while racing on the ITU circuit.

Reigning 70.3 World Champ Sebastian Kienle again has his eyes on the prize, using his powerful bike as his weapon of choice. Photo: Jay Prasuhn

The biggest wild cards is former ITU star Lisa Norden of Sweden and fellow former ITU aces Annabel Luxford of Australia and Germany’s Svenja Bazlen. Norden, the London Olympics silver medalist, has shown a level of speed that threatens to put her to the front of the race from the outset, and possibly for good.

The course remains the same as athlete tackled the last few years; a 1.2-mile swim in Lake Las Vegas followed by ride east into the desert before double-backing and heading toward the city of Henderson. There, athletes will taking on a rolling urban half marathon on the sun-baked streets of Henderson before finding that finish arch and bottles of cold water to pour over the head.

The biggest factor for all athletes is—as expected, the heat. Consider this: the expected nighttime low for early Sunday morning—78 degrees Fahrenheit—is a temp most athletes would be grateful to be racing in during the day at any other event. Not here; the mercury is slated to top out at 91 (mild by Vegas standards, as the temps have gone into triple digits in the days leading up to the race). Those mild temps are tempered by the prospect of the sporadic afternoon thunderstorm. Either option is tough odds for the mid- to late-wave age groupers that will be battling the sun in the heat of the day.

Action kicks off at 6:30 a.m. Sunday with the pros off first, and age groupers in succession. Check in here at lavamagazine.com shortly after the race for a post-race report and image gallery.

 

2013 Ironman 70.3 World Championship

Pro Start List

(numbers correspond to bib numbers)

 

1            Sebastian Kienle DEU

 

2            Bevan Docherty  NZL

 

3            Andy Potts  USA

 

4            Craig Alexander AUS

 

5            Brent McMahon            CAN

 

6            Terenzo Bozzone            NZL

 

7            Joe Gambles            AUS

 

8            Reed            Timothy            AUS

 

9            Bart Aernouts            BEL

 

10            Ritchie Nicholls            GBR

 

11            Josh Amberger            AUS

 

12            Greg Bennett            AUS

 

14            Christian Kemp            AUS

 

15            Leon Griffin                        AUS

 

16            Kevin Collington            USA

 

17            Tim Don            GBR

 

18            Jordan Jones            USA

 

19            Luke Bell            AUS

 

20            Tim O’Donnell            USA

 

22            Oscar Galindez            ARG

 

23            Callum Millward            NZL

 

24            Sam Betten            AUS

 

25            Ruedi Wild            SWI

 

26            Samuel Appleton            AUS

 

27            Paul Matthews            AUS

 

28            Will Clarke            GBR

 

30            Matt Reed            USA

 

31            Igor Amorelli            BRA

 

32            Luke McKenzie            AUS

 

33            James Hadley            GBR

 

34            John Polson            AUS

 

35            David Kahn            USA

 

36            Ryan Rau            USA

 

38            Joey Lampe                        AUS

 

39            Jan Van Berkel            SUI

 

40            Brad Kahlefeldt            AUS

 

41            Robert Wade              IRL

 

42            Andreas Dreitz            DEU

 

43            Boris Stein            DEU

 

44            Ivan Vasiliev            RUS

 

45            Felipe Van De Wyngard            CHI

 

47            Tyler Butterfield            BER

 

48            Jan Frodeno                        DEU

 

49            Bertrand Billard            FRA

 

50            Guy Crawford             NZL

 

51            Alberto Casadei            ITA

 

53            Christopher Baird            USA

 

54            Alex Reithmeier            AUT

 

55            Mark Bowstead            NZL

 

56            Ivan Rana                        ESP

 

 

Women

 

60            Leanda Cave            GBR

 

61            Heather Wurtele            CAN

 

62            Kelly Williamson            USA

 

63            Annabel Luxford            AUS

 

64            Melissa Hauschildt            AUS

 

65            Heather Jackson            USA

 

66            Lisa Huetthaler            AUT

 

67            Catriona Morrison            GBR

 

68            Margie Shapiro            USA

 

70            Emma-Kate Lidbury            GBR

 

71            Sarah Crowley            AUS

 

72            Joanna Lawn                        NZL

 

75            Amy Marsh            USA

 

77            Melanie McQuaid            CAN

 

78            Angela Naeth                        CAN

 

79            Tenile Hoogland            CAN

 

80            Laura Bennett            USA

 

81            Amber Ferreira            USA

 

82            Mandy Mclane            USA

 

84            Rebecca Hoschke            AUS

 

86            Svenja Bazlen                        DEU

 

87            Daniela Ryf                        SWI

 

88            Magali Tisseyre            CAN

 

89            Ashley Clifford            USA

 

90            Miranda Tomenson            CAN

 

91            Jeanni Seymour            ZAF

 

92            Kate Bevilaqua            AUS

 

93            Heather Leiggi            USA

 

94            Sonja Tajsich            DEU

 

95            Molly Roohi            USA

 

96            Jennie Hansen            USA

 

97            Leslie Lamacchia            USA

 

98            Bree Wee            USA

 

99            Uli Bromme            USA

 

100            Lisa Norden            SWE