It's finally that time of year - the biggest race in triathlon is upon us. The Ironman Hawaii World Championships take place this Saturday, October 12th. As with many of you, we sometimes enjoy armchair punditry, and taking a look at how we think everyone will fare given their history, equipment, and the year they've had thus far. Here are our predictions for the finish rankings at the Ironman World Championship pro race.
Let's start with the men.
Former Olympic rower, former pro cyclist, current pro triathlete & Kona bike course record holder - Cam Wurf is our #10 pick for Kona this year! Cam cracked the top 10 for the first time last year. He has broken the bike course record in both of his PRO appearances at the race going 4:12 in 2017 & 4:09 in 2018. Our guess is that he may overextend himself going for a three-peat bike course record in 2019, which will make his chances of improving on his 9th place from 2018 quite difficult.
We've been supplying Omega X brakes to this jovial guy for many years! Andy Potts has been in the top 10 at least 7 times in Kona, so it'd be unwise to not include him on our list as our #9 man! This Olympian is also a former winner of the Ironman 70.3 World Championship & Pan American Games.
He's stood on world championship podiums on 4 occasions - Gold & Silver at the ITU Long Distance, & 2 Bronze at the Ironman & Ironman 70.3 World Championships. Five times he's been in the top 10 at Kona, which makes us think Tim O'Donnell has a great shot at an 8th place finish.
So, 2019 Kona picks. Where do you put Patrick Lange? We're gonna step out on a limb and peg him at 7th place this year. Crazy? Maybe. It's always a risk to bet against the defending champ. But hear us out.
It's been a whopping twenty-six years since a man three-peated on the Big Island, during Mark Allen's era of dominance. And while Lange is absolutely an athlete of that caliber, the competitive field today is far deeper. Based on the spread of the top 3 finish times from the 90's to today, you might say that the field is around 40% stronger on average. So if you compound the 26-year dry spell on three-peats with the stronger field, we might guesstimate Lange's chances of a three-peat at less than 2%! Comparing some top athletes in recent years, we've seen several three-peat attempts thwarted. Tim DeBoom DNF'd going for his third race in 2003, Crowie had a chance in 2010 & finished 4th, Frodo had a chance in 2017 & only managed to be the 35th professional (with an injury issue). So while it's definitely possible, we just think it's unlikely that Lange will pick up the hat trick. What do you think?
Lionel Sanders made it back! Thanks to a lot of patience with his injury he appears to be in great form heading into the IMWC. While we think he's quite capable of winning this race, we don't feel confident this will be the year, so we're marking him down for 6th.
David McNamee has managed to sneak onto the last step of the podium with his lethal run in 2017 & 2018. We're predicting that the bike is likely to play a bigger factor this year, as last year had relatively calmer conditions than usual, so we're penciling him in for 5th this year.
Kienle reminded us in September of how well he can run off a challenging bike course in Nice, laying down a 1:09:31 half marathon - the 2nd fastest split of the day! We're wondering if that performance will compromise his ability to perform in October, so we're predicting a 4th place in Kona for him.
After an amazing comeback from his accident/injury in 2017 to then move up in 2018 to take 6th overall in Kona; we believe Matt Russell is finally ready to step it up this year. We predict he will make the podium in Kona and take 3rd in 2019. We also kinda like the bike he's riding this year. Wink wink.
2nd last year & 2nd again this year is our guess for Bart Aernouts in Kona. Top 5 bike & run splits in Nice are great indications of his fitness, consistency, & controlled approach to racing going into the IMWC. A swim with a group that minimizes his deficits to the front, followed by his even stronger bike & run will put him in a great position to move onto the podium in the second half of the marathon.
Injuries, penalties, and flat tires have been the only things that have stopped Jan Frodeno from winning at the Ironman World Championship. The 2X winner is hungry to make it 3X, as injuries over the past 2 years have stalled his attempts to dominate once more. Who knows? This may be his last chance to win here, as he'll be 39 by the time the cannon fires at Kona 2020. If he wins on October 12th, Frodeno would only be 53 days short of Craig Alexander's record as the oldest winner. Thanks for following along with our Kona predictions, we have lots of coverage from Kona coming your way very soon!