Sunday, 4 October 2009

Kona Special...

Only six days to go until the biggest race in the Ironman calendar and I can barely contain my excitement, to the point where H and I have decided that in 2010 qualify or not we're heading to the Big Island to take in the race day atmosphere. Hels and I love hanging out supporting at races as much as we love racing them and with so many friends competing next Saturday it just doesn't seem right that we aren't there. On top of that, in Chrissie Wellington we (GB) have one of the greatest Ironman athletes of all time and in Philip Graves we have one of the most exciting prospects in the sport (and photographer responsible for this week's pic)... this year, as does every year, promises to be very very special and good as it is, watching online is no substitute for the real thing!

So who do I think will take the spoils...

In the men's event it's hard to look past Craig Alexander, as great as the field is he seems to have the quiet confidence of someone who knows what it takes to win, has been there before and is more than capable of upping his game should the situation arise. He claims he can run 2:35, last year won with a 2:45 and with McCormack pulling out during the bike perhaps that was simply 'enough'... if he needs to run faster than six minute miling I have a feeling he will. Talking of Macca, he is without a doubt one of the all-time greats of triathlon (not just the long stuff) and having broken through for the win in 2007 after many years of trying, and in the process emulating one of his main inspirations (Mark Allen) I have a feeling he'll not be happy until he's got a little closer to Allen's total of six titles. Perhaps we'll see a repeat of the famous 1989 'Iron War'? Hot on their heals is a who's who of Ironman rockstars with the likes of Eneko Llanos, Rutger Beke (last year's 2 & 3), Marino Vanhoenacker and Ronnie Schildnecht leading the European charge and Cameron Brown & Andy Potts leading the non-euros.

But what about the young (youngest in the field actually) Mr Graves? He's clearly a phenomenal talent and having had the privilege of working with him in the build up to this race I can assure you that there is a very wise and mature head on those nearly teenage shoulders. I'll predict three things for Phil next Saturday 1) he'll race with courage, passion and above all conviction 2) he will at some point in the day change the shape of the race and 3) we will all be extremely proud. Remind anyone of another young lad from Yorkshire?

And now the girls...

Or should I say girl? I've never been so sure of an outcome in my life, there's very few athletes in the women's field that I would call great. I think a large percentage of the spectacular summer performances are aided by them being in the thick of a large number of age-group men on the bike (something they're not afforded in Kona with the 15 minute start) and unfortunately for the 'good' female pro's they're competing against almost certainly the greatest of all time. Barring mechanicals, injuries or crashes I think we'll see a new course record (perhaps wind dependant) from Chrissie and a very large margin of victory... probably over 20 minutes.

Last but not least, our mates...

Ozzer, once again you're showing me the way, have a fantastic race and stick in a couple of hard miles for me. Russ, Jo and Steve we're loving the almost daily blogs from the big Island, you all have very different goals for the day... race wisely. Nick, like Ian you've been capable of getting there for a long time and it just took everything to click on a summer's day in Bolton, embrace every heartbeat. Mama Simmons, a year ago becoming a full-time mum you never thought this possible, impossible is nothing ;) And also Ben Bigglestone, we don't know you and have never met you, but as best mate to one of our best mates and one time LBT member we'll be shouting loud and proud!

I think that's it?

Swim like there is no bike, ride like there is no run and run like you're in Kona!

What about me?

I'm sat here in bed with a severe case of man flu (that's worse than swine or bird flu and considerably more painful than woman flu) having popped myself over the edge running today's Harewood 10 mile trail race with a head cold. It hurt all the way round but unfortunately not in the 'legs burning athletically' kind of way but more in the 'you really shouldn't be doing this you silly boy' kind of way! Still, it's good to be back racing, H did great and it was nice to hang out with our mates from Virgin Active Road Runners.

See you in seven days, one of which promises to be rather special,


p.s. no idea what happened with the font this week? Normal service will resume shortly I expect.

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