Monday, 8 June 2015

IM Cairns predictions

Ironman Cairns is almost here and that means our predictions for Age Group honours have been compiled. We need to begin by saying that every person who registers and completes an Ironman deserves a medal. This includes both professional and age group athletes and the below list is not intended to highlight “winners” but more the people who have shown amazing commitment to raise the level of competition and profile of our sport.
YOURIRONGUIDE is a huge supporter of the age grouper. They are truly inspiring and the backbone of any iron distance event.
This time around, we have joined forces with 2 Australian IM icons – Xavier Coppock (Team Tri Coachingand Matt Koorey (TEAM TBB coaching). Both of these guys won their respective age groups at their last start and both also coach many high level pro and AG athletes. Here is the compilation of AG athletes to watch on June 14 in Cairns.

18 – 24 Male
Robin Pesche was one of our selections in Busselton last December and he didn’t disappoint taking out a podium place that day. He has raced throughout Europe and Australia as part of the Runners Point Tri team and no doubt he will want to improve a step or two higher at this event.
Queensland local Luke Beauchamp is the dark horse here. Luke went to Kona 2 years ago after qualifying in Port Mac that year dominating the 18-24 AG. His work as a fitness advisor at Bayside Multisports club allows plenty of opportunity to train. He has not been as high profile lately. Will he return to his best form here? We believe so and have him in the top 2. (read more here)


18 – 24 Female
Brisbane girl (formally from the USA), Courtney Home, achieved a podium in this age group at her first attempt. The chocolate loving Courtney, (she works in a hand-made chocolate shop) has certainly set her sights on a high finish in Cairns to get an invite to the World Champs. With a full race menu this year instead of a chocolate menu, she is looking as a strong contender. (read more here)

With only one likely slot available, she will not have it all her own way as she competes against Karlie Jennings, another local Queensland girl, who may well have been the first Australian to compete in Kona last year on the exact same day as her grandfather. Her family learning curve has been high and if she has taken in enough information, she will also be hard to beat. (read more here)

25 - 29 Male
Rarely do you have the opportunity to see two world champions go head to head in anything but a championship race but we are lucky to see it here.
Amos Gollach was born in Zimbabwe but now lives in Perth. He is a former world Champion at Ironman distance recording a 9:01:15 on the big island in hot, humid and windy conditions (is there anything else in Hawaii) in 2013. He has also raced this course 2 years ago and won the 18-24 AG that year by 50 minutes! If he can capture any of that form here, he must be one to beat. (read more here)

Levi Maxwell however is the current 25 -29 world champion (and also was the second AG overall). He won last October in Kona with a scorching time of 8:52 (2:54 marathon) and has an 8:41 to his name. His winning margin was 14 minutes in Kona and this means he has already qualified for this year’s championship. Will Levi pull the trigger on an all-out assault or simply validate his qualification?

The second West Australian in this field to watch, Ashan Weerakkody, seems destined to lead the group out of T1. His smoking swim will ensure he begins the bike in the right place. He would however need to improve his ride strength from previous outings to be amongst the medals when the run is on.

Joseph Cleasby, another WA boy, made last year’s podium here with a 9:23. Perhaps warmer predicted conditions will improve his chances to step up a notch or two.

Kiwi, Blair Walmsby, won IMNZ last year in this AG, running down his competitors in the final kilometres. That day he won by less than a minute. That shows he has the finishing kick and mental strength to worry the field. He improves every leg of the race and could be a possible overseas raider for the title.

Others capable of a sub 9:30 time and a top 5 include Matthew Rundle, Chris Wood (if we have the right “Chris Wood” who finished Ironman Melbourne in 9:08) and member of TEAM Tri - Michael Harvey (9.16 IMMelb 2014 & IMJapan Age Group winner)

The dark horse here is David Kalinowski, He surprised many with an overall win at Ultraman Australia and has a 4.14 over 70.3 distance to his name It will be a question of how much fuel he has in his tank after Ultraman to trouble the front of the field. 

The fastest age group time on the day will come from these athletes.

25 - 29 Female
4 of the top 8 from Cairns last year return this year
WA’s Amy Van Dijk is no stranger to Ironman. She had a podium finish back in 2012 in her home state and followed up with a 4TH in Cairns last year.
TEAM Tri Coaching’s Rikki Anderson beat Amy to the podium last year on this very course in a respectable 10:43.
Brooke Kennedy and local Port Douglas girl Kate Houlahan finished last year in 7th and 8th respectively and would feel they have good chances to improve if they have put together a good build to this event.
Lucy Forbes is our final selection. She is a talented local Port Douglas athlete who won a recent duathlon overall but does she have the legs for the longer distances? We will find out Sunday evening. (read more here)


30 - 34 Male
TEAM Tri Coaching’s Matt Shepherd is the only man returning from last year in the top 5. His 9:16 last year in the rain was good enough for 4th in AG and information on him has a solid preparation this year.

Oskar Booth started his triathlon campaign in Broome following a number of years as a top flight orienteering athlete. His run background means he can never be discounted as he will be flying toward the finish tape. Since moving to Perth to join a current pro female athlete, he has strengthened the other disciplines of swim and bike to be a realistic chance of a podium here.

Kiwi Josh Harrison has qualified for the big dance before back in 2013 and that shows he has plenty of experience and cannot be discounted. A trip to Cairns would not be taken lightly.

Clint Kimmins, the former pro surfer who on occasions has trained with our very own Luke McKenzie as part of the 10/10 challenge, is also quality. He has already achieved an outright win in this category in Busselton IM.

Jarrod Owen however is the one to watch. He posted a smoking 8:55 at IMWA and that sort of form is rare. If he can bring that type of form here, he will be the one to beat.

30 - 34 Female
Not a lot of athletes from the top 10 have returned this year from the field that started the 2014 edition of Cairns. One exception is Steph Graves. Knowledge of the course will pay dividends and she will hope to improve on her placing last year.

Chieko Kimura will hope to take the title back to Japan. Her top 5 at IM Japan 2013 shows lots of promise and she will be up an AG this year so the baby of the field.

Naomi Rands had a solid 4th at IM Melbourne last year. Another 15 months of loading will do her good and she will be there at the finish.

Shannon Proffit, raced NZ, Port, Hawaii 70.3 (won AG there) and now is backing up for Cairns. That is a lot of racing and her finish will largely depend on how much fuel she has been able to save before the gun goes off. She has been to Kona before so knows how to get the job done and prepare for a race but this will certainly be a test.


35 - 39 Male
Andrew Carracher finished on the podium here last year in the rain with a 9:22. That day he had the fasted run split in his age group of 3:02 (with wet and muddy shoes and socks). His improvement in bike strength will determine if he can step higher in the placings.

James Debenham (from TEAM Tri Coaching stable) now trains in Western Australia close to the Fremantle Dockers home ground after spending much of his life in the UK. This physio specialist and university lecturer knows everything about lower leg injury and treatment and with that knowledge, smashed a sub 9:10 IM on his local Busselton course in 2013. That gave him a trip to Hawaii last year. Our information is that he has put together a solid preparation for this event and needs to be considered for a high finish with a strong bike leg.

Local Boy and TEAM Tri Coaching’s Nathan Sandford, has been top 10 in the previous years. He “ages up” here and will once again be around the mark after a few 9hr 30min performances. A 4th at Ironman Japan last year and 11th at Ironman New Zealand, Nathan will be as keen as ever to challenge the big guns and is our dark horse to watch.

Ex State Cricketers Graham Manou and Brett Swain (40 - 44) also deserve a mention as another cross over to our great sport after being very successful playing cricket for different states. Graham also played 1 test match for Australia but this will be his second IM event. For Brett, this is his first. Good Luck gentlemen. (read more here)

35 - 39 Female
The former pole vaulter, Andrea Hopkin for Western Australia turned to Ironman in 2009. Steady improvement and a killer run leg (she has a sub-3hr marathon to her name) delivered her a World Championship slot last year. She will be running to the finish line in style and any girl in front of her will be watching their back hoping she does not run past. ## Our late news is she may not be racing

Renae Witt has shown ability on this course before, finishing 4th last year and just missing the podium. The wet conditions then may have slowed her progress and we believe she will show improvement this year.

Debbi Hazelden, the Kiwi based in Sydney, coaches triathlon and Ironman at Wish Fitness. Her 10:18 at the 2014 Cairns Ironman placed 2nd in her age group, 5th age grouper overall, and earned her a place at the 2014 Kona Ironman World Championships. She is quality and will be in the mix (if she listens to her own words of wisdom on the day) Wish Fitness


Andrea Bess will also be one to beat. The former Brazil native now lives in Kona, and why not as she has qualified to race there 4 times! The one spot left for her report card is a 1st place at a full IM event.

As per Melbourne Ironman in 2014, Nicole Hart will be chasing the leaders down.  Running a 3hr 1min Marathon that day saw her win that age group comfortably. Every girl in this group will have a target on their backs as she sprints to the finish line.
This will be a great competition and very close with plenty of seasoned athletes ready to show their talents.

40 - 44 Male
It is likely to take a sub 9:10 time to win this age group depending on conditions as it is such a strong field.

The German born, Honk Kong resident, Olaf Kaston, only took up Ironman competitively in 2012 but went 9:10 in Melbourne soon after and qualified that year for Hawaii (finishing 8th). The following year, he won the age group on the swim shortened course finishing 8:13. With a 4:40bike and close to 3 hours flat on the run. He will be one to beat. (read more here

Winning the 40 – 44 age group is also something Nick Burt is capable of. He won IM Australia in 2014 with a finish time barely over 9 hours. We might add that he ran a 2:54 marathon that day to finish 11th overall. The winner is likely to come from one of these two outstanding athletes. (read more here)

Brendan Flanagan from Brisbane, is likely to be a strong competitor and will push for a podium after showing great signs in IMWA to finish 3rd. He is from the Red Dog stable and in his local state, may be more comfortable to show even more speed. (read more here)


Bevan Mckinnon will be after a bit of redemption after his explosion at IMNZ.  Having a 15min lead in his age group hitting T2, Bevan looked like he was going to be first age grouper over the line that day until the last 4k took him 1hr 30min.  No doubt he has fire in his belly to try and take the title here

40 - 44 Female
Stepping up to this age group is Port Mac local Melinda Cockshutt. She is fresh from celebrating her 40th birthday last year on the big island after a great performance at IMWA in 2013. As the “youngster” of this group and capable of a 55 minute swim – it is very likely she will be the early front runner.(read more here)


Monique Flores returns to Cains after finishing on the podium here last year. She has already put a strong performance together in Melbourne earlier in 2015 and her ability here depends on the build and taper following that event. It is certainly a difficult assignment to back up from that race only months ago.

Karen Moy also returns to Cairns after 4th last year. That day she had one of the fastest bike splits and would have been very close to exiting T2 in front of the pack before fading on the run. Will this be the year she holds form in the vital third leg to make the podium?

45 - 59 Male
Pay your money, get the tickets and sit back to watch this age group contest as it will be the highlight of all Ironman age groups.


Aaron Hill qualified for Kona in 2012 (DNS that year) and 2013 and has a strong swim leg so may lead the bunch in to T1. His finishing ability, like many in this field, will be severely tested however.

Ricky Jeffs is also making an appearance. The long-time supporter of Ironman events through his Urban Hotel network, can certainly put together a quick swim/bike (he had a lazy 4:42 bike split in Melbourne back in 2012 when the wind was howling). He will be near the front of the field in to T2 but would also need to grow wings to hold this position as it is a runner’s field.

Anthony Fesche, the cosmopolitan Kiwi flight Captain who lives in Hong Kong but lists Singapore as a home, took 2nd in the 40-44AG at Cairns 2013. That year he smashed a 4:45 bike time in the wind and heat to move from 23rd to 2nd in a single leg. On his day, a quality athlete and cannot be discounted.

Al Jefferson, won here last year by a full 6 minutes even after giving the rest of the field a chance with a 7 minute T2 (what were you doing in there Al?). Allan placed 11th in the 35-39 AG at Kona way back in 2006 and thus has a long pedigree. He has been sub-9:15 regularly and must be in contention if not our winner here.


Stephen Gage and Robbie Andrews we will mention together.  Both made the podium at the recent Ultraman in Noosa less than a month ago. For those uninitiated in this event, the 3 days packs in a 10km swim, two rides (144.8km and 273.6km) and is followed by a double marathon (yes 84km) on the final day. Stephen Gage ran 2 Marathons back to back, both at 3hr 16minute pace and was 2nd outright. Robbie kept a similar speed for the double marathon at 3hr 27minute pace placing 3rd.  Gage also won IMNZ 2011 in the 40-44AG in 9hrs 10min and was 10th overall.(read more here)

 Matt Koorey, the ex- Australian Commonwealth Games representative in triathlon, will also be racing. Fresh from his win at IMWA last December, (yes Matt, I remember the last kilometre well) he will also be a strong runner to contend with.

The final contender is Darren Franken. He will be near the front of this field, has the swim/bike to be competitive, however with an inconsistent run, you never know which Darren will turn up?  If he is on, there is not many better in this age group.
This is one of the strongest 45 – 49 fields outside of Hawaii we have ever seen. It will be won and lost in the final 10km of the day and worth watching every minute.

45 - 49 Female
Fresh from her 8 minute Ironman Australia win this year (and 45 minutes over third place), Belinda Ward looks to be in rare form. Is it possible to back up that effort barely 3 months later? We will see??

Another competitor to try and go back-to-back with events close together is WA’s Melina Townsend. She competed at IMNZ back in March and she too is registered to start in Cairns. A strong swim bike combination gave her a podium chance before losing a couple of places on the run that day. Can she capture the run speed to be a significant factor here after only 3 months between races?? Both of these athletes need to have had a great build to be in the money.

Mojca Mijovic has done plenty of travel and plenty of races. You only have to look at her past with podium positions in USA events back as far as 2008. She is a tough competitor and one to watch. Another with a long background is Fiona Lim. If our research is correct, she won her AG over 10 years ago at IM Malaysia.

Alison Coote however has shown her ability on this very course finishing second last year and will be our pick to beat in the 2015 edition. Conditions last year were mild and if she is able to handle what Cairns can throw up, and with course knowledge, she will be there at the finish.

50 - 54 Male
This age group could be a real battle between nations.
The local Queenslander with a 70.3 on his doorstep, Richard Goodger from Yeppoon, qualified in  2011 and 2012 for Kona and seems the quality to win here.(read more here)

He will be hotly tested however by Junya Yujiri from Japan. Junya has also visited the lava fields twice in 2009 and 2014. He also seems to be the man for the job.
Bathurst triathlete Terry Roberts joined the IM Aus Legends club after finishing his 10th IM Australia (read more here). He has received a permanent race number (259) for his loyalty to the event. He has also been to the World Championships and our winner should come from these three.

50 - 54 Female
Sarah Jane Blair (4th IMNZ 2014) is no stranger to Ironman. She has travelled from her native Kiwi land to try and steal away the main prize.

Merryn Truskett seems to be the one to beat however. Her podium in the 45-49 AG at Busselton IM in 2012 is still a display of her ability following qualification at Kona the year before. She has also graced the world stage at shorter distance. With over 20 years of experience and hailing from the Warringah Triathlon Club, she is our pick.

Western Australian Ruth Metcalf from the Pursuit coaching stable (ex Pro Mike Gee is the head coach) is the unknown quantity here. She has certainly shown glimpses of her talent but will need to be at her best to be a factor.
Karen Wilson also attempts to step up from 70.3 distance this year. Her solid performance from last year cannot be discounted.

55 - 59 Male
 Ironman royalty graces this age group. Kevin Ferguson is well known throughout the country and is a World Champion at 3 different distances (in the same year). His “5 for 55” effort last year was to raise money for cancer research with a goal of winning 5 ironman events in a calendar year – which he did. Unless Kevin falls over he will win as he is the very pinnacle of this age group, demonstrated by his win by more than 30 minutes last year.
(read more here)

Perhaps scared by Kevin, none of last year’s top 10 are racing again this year.
Allan Moustoukas has travelled to Hawaii in 2012 running out of the CBD cycles stable. He is certainly capable of a podium in the field. Doug Robertson finished 2nd last year in Cairns but at 70.3 distance. Is he capable of stepping up to this length and still retaining the speed? We will wait to see. 
Hiroshi Tsukamura is the dark horse here. He is well travelled and race ready. Any athlete with his run speed cannot be ignored – shown back in 2013 at IM Japan with a run leg that picked up 10 positions!

55 - 59 Female
Interesting that every competitor in this category has plenty of Ironman history. That means there are no easy picks for top honours as all of these girls know how to finish an Ironman event. It is a smaller field than the bumper crop from last year but rich in talent. Mary Mitchell was a standout athlete at IMWA and has qualified to go Big Island hopping before. She smashed out a 10:37 back in 2013 on that course, only being beaten on the day by world champion (and AG goddess) June Ward. She was not able to make the finish line at Busselton last December so hopefully she will be ready for this race. 

Caron Mackie finished a solid 6th here last year and may be the only one with local course knowledge. We will give her the nod to finish on the podium behind Mary.

Catherine Fullford started IM back in 2011 and now has a better grasp on what is required. She is our tip to make up the placings.

60 - 64 Male
9 different nationalities are represented in this field which shows the cosmopolitan aspect of the Cairns location. It also makes it very difficult to pick winners.
Thomas Velena finished second back in 2010 at IMWA in the previous age group. That day he went 9:57. If he can go near that time, he is a chance to take the chocolates.

Robert Coulson has had a few good performances as well. He won a 70.3 race in the UK and a close second at IM South Africa both back in 2010. He will figure in the podium.

60 - 64 Female
Local Girl Sharman Parr (Team Tri Coaching) will again take on IM Cairns. If you have not heard of her by the time you leave the coral coast then you must have had your head in the sand. She had run out of fingers 5 years ago in counting the number of times she has qualified for the big dance and is quality…..period.

Karen Short is by no means a newbie anymore following her IM Melbourne in 2014. That day she missed the podium by a minute plus change after a full day of racing! She is the “youngster” in this category after moving up this year. Both women are well on their way to great finishes and will dominate the age group.

65 - 69 Male
A small field this year with only 4 starters. The Frenchman Marti Robert has plenty of racing background and also knows the way to the World Champs. He is the quality in this field and will win. Shuzo Sato will ensure Marti keeps focused but may struggle to hold the final speed required for the top spot.

70 - 74 Male
Shoji Nakano is the front runner here. His rise to the World Champs back in 2012 and the times he has displayed sets him as the favourite.
Griff Weste is no stranger to speed. He still holds the race record for the 60-64 category at IM New Zealand on the bike. Give that some thought……the fastest ever bike time in the history of that event (dating back 30 years) by a 60-64 age grouper!! You can not discount him based on that.

Ken Poole has won in South Africa but will have more competitors ready to take his top spot this race and Niel Gilbert showed promise in 2013 at IM Melbourne to finish  5th

Frank Fesche is our dark horse as he has not been spotted in IM circles since way back in 1997. He did however roll around in 2013 at Cairns but in the 70.3. Our big tip for the day is this Port Douglas local will compete for the podium.

75 - 79 Male
We have 2 entrants listed in this category and one will start the event. Fimiaki SATO was the fastest in his AG at IM Sweden back in 2012 (as a young 72 year old). That year he even picked up a bike sponsor!! He has been to Kona and is a true champion.

The second competitor Fusao Sekiya sadly passed away while run training for Cairns. He was well known in Cairns as the athlete who missed the 17 hour cut-off by just 31 seconds in 2013. We can report that he did finish last year with 8 minutes to spare and was presented with his cherished finisher’s medal. Our best wishes to his family.(read more here)

Paratriathlete
Rob Paterson is in a wheelchair following being hit by a semi-trailer while on a training ride on the Hume Highway. This is not his first attempt at an IM. That occurred back in 2013 at IMWA but he was unable to finish. He is the only athlete in this category and please cheer him on to try and complete the gruelling distance before the cut off times tick by.(read more here)

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