Thursday, 30 November 2017

Armchair guide to IMWA

YOURIRONGUIDE’S armchair guide to IMWA - What to look forward to this year?

IMWA given another 3 year contract

IMWA is set to continue for another 3 years as the contract has been extended. Some rumours were floating around that the event could be on thin ice but this good news came directly from the Ironman CEO Andrew Messick according to our sources at the 70.3 world championships recently. With that in mind, let’s celebrate all that Ironman in Western Australia has to offer.

The mass start

Don’t miss the start on Sunday at 7am and don’t take it lightly. Rolling starts are now the norm around the world and for Western Australia to retain the mass start is an absolute highlight. I had my first rolling start in Cairns earlier this year and after 4 months of winter training and taper, I arrived at the start line to meet a tech official with a clipboard saying “wait……….ok go” - not overly inspiring. The mass start has all of the excitement this event deserves so make sure you are there to see it!

Terenzo Bozzone going back to back with wins

Terenzo is attempting to win back to back in this quality field. Terenzo has shown his amazing flexibility over the last 2 weeks for different formats and distances. 2 weeks ago he competed at the Island House Triathlon #paininparadise sprint series (3 races in 2 days) and finished second by the absolute smallest of margins. He then travelled to Bahrain 70.3 last weekend and again finished second by just 40 seconds. He will now attempt an Ironman distance event in the third week of a huge road trip and still be competitive. Now that will be worth seeing.

Pete Jacobs return to IMWA.

Pete is a world champion. I don’t say “past world champion” as that would lower his standing in my opinion. If you have climbed the pinnacle of Iron Distance racing and shown you are the best in the world – you deserve to always be called a World Champ. My high 5 with Pete as he came off the Queen K back in 2012 still rates as a highlight on his way to the win. Pete has had well documented health issues over the past few years but a third at IMCairns in 2016 showed glimpses of improved fitness and form and the hope is he returns to the peak performance he is capable of. 10 years ago Pete set a swim course record at IMWA of 44:42. I still remember him walking the run course and not giving up that day until he reached the finish line, even though the body had crumbled under the strain of the battle. I can’t wait to see him compete this year.

Cameron Wurf’s bike split and run finish

Cameron is an ex-pro cyclist. He led off the bike in this year’s world championships with a split of 4:12:54! Conditions were nowhere near perfect that day (I can tell you) and he still managed a smoking time. In Busselton he will have flat fast roads in his favour and I can’t wait to see what split he can manage AND if he can hold the run speed off the bike to greet the finish line.

Cameron Brown – one more time

Cam has competed in about a thousand Ironman events and still knows how to race at 43 years old. He started ITU racing in 1990! He also won his 11th IMNZ only a couple of years ago. It is worth being in Busselton just to see this 4 time World Champ podium finisher show his quality and can NEVER be discounted if he is in the start list.

Courtney Ogden returns

Courtney is a local favourite and a previous winner here in 2010. He has added his vast knowledge to the fledgling professional triathlon team “better Tri Us” (BTU) recently and many on the sidelines will be waiting to see if he can lift the trophy as a home grown Western Australian product at the high end of the pro field.

The local Pro girls take on the rest of the world

Kate Bevilaqua is also a former winner of this event back in 2010 and a world Ultraman champion. She is a Perth girl and local hopes will rest with her to get the job done as well as Dimity-Lee Duke. Dimity is now based in Thailand but a local girl through and through. She finished just off the podium 2 years ago and would like nothing better than improving on that this year. The local crowd will be in full voice to support of these girls come race day.

Legends list

You may notice some slightly different bib numbers which are separated by a dash on them (for example 10-023). These are the legends of IMWA and the first number is the total completed Ironman WA races for that person. It is a great initiative and lets all of the spectators know the true Age Group legends of our sport. I will be looking forward in particular to seeing Busselton local Mick Bray, previous TRIWA president Peter Rash and Mandurah couple David and Michelle Boyes ticking off yet another full distance event.

Young Age Group male rivalries

Last year the 18-24 male AG was won by a whopping 34 minutes (to second place). This year, two young guns will renew rivalries and the finish could be neck and neck. Local Busselton resident Louis Bray and east coaster Tom Callaghan will pick up where they left off in Cairns earlier this year. Louis led on to the run that day by 15 minutes and Tom had to dig deep for the entire 42km to get over the top of him at the finish line. Keep your eyes peeled for these young guns to take it up to each other on the hot Busselton course this year.

Fast, fast 25-29 males

Former pro Johan Borg is by all reports in some of the best form of his short IM career. He would be very hard to beat in this group and with a mass start, his swim leg should be assisted and he will be a good chance to finish as one of the fastest age groupers. Others to keep an eye out for in this category include David Bryant, Charles Legget (5th last year) and Ricky Leyonhjelm who debuted at this distance only last year at IM Australia and should have learned from that experience.

Speedy age group males

Is it possible to go 8:51 as an age grouper and miss the 30-34 podium in a local event? Local Brad Wall did just that here last year. He will have to be right towards the pointy end of the non-pro competitors again this year. Other elite age groupers to keep an eye on for wins in their category (glancing at the start list) include Nathan Groch (30-34, won IM Aus this year and 3rd on this very course back in 2015), Rob Dendle (steps up from the 25-29 with plenty of podiums around Australia at 70.3 distance), Rob Johnston (won IM Aus back in 2016, 40-44), David Boyes (55-59, has won here before a  number of times and recently finished 4th at the IM world champs), Darren Franken (45-49, 5th here last year and the same at IM Melbourne with plenty of wins at 70.3 distance), Alex Price (35-39 won IM Aus last year and IM Japan back in 2014), Luke Whitmore (35-39, podium at IM Aus a number of years back and won Geelong 70.3 last year)

You got chicked

Plenty of ladies in the age group ranks this year are ready to show their amazing speed around the course. Girls with real chances of podium finishes in their age group include Siobhan McCloskey (18 - 24, trained locally by James Debenham and TEAM Tri WA, she has a win and 2nd place at 70.3 events in both WA and Ballarat), Emily Kempson (18 – 24, who finished second in her age group at IM Aus this year), local girl Chloe Mackenzie who has shown speed at 70.3 distance but will need to step up to a longer distance, Rikki Anderson (30-34 won IM Cairns in 2 different categories the last 2 years), Lesley West who has won at 70.3 distance twice, Sophie Bubb (Also coached by James Debenham locally 35-39 hot off her top 10 result in Kona and won IM UK earlier this year, Michelle Boyes (45 – 49 and has done it all. Multiple winner here and stood on the podium in Kona back in 2015) and Melanie Baumann (35-39, the Swiss star with 4 wins at 70.3 distance including China and the European championships)

The Vibe

Unlike many other events of this type (and I have raced in a few around the world), IMWA is in a small town that completely embraces the amazing feeling of human spirit that Ironman brings. Almost every person you see in the streets, in the days leading up to the event, is connected to the Ironman in some way. It means the Vibe and anticipation grows and grows as the starting gun gets closer. Embrace the vibe and the supportive spectators – it is iconic to this event.

The commentary

Pete Murray, the voice of Ironman in the Asia Pacific region will be here to call every finisher over the line. I may be biased but I would prefer his Australian excitement over an imported voice any day. “You are an Ironman” will ring out time and time again and with Pete at the mike, anything can happen and he will give his full gas for 17 hours helping every competitor home.

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