By Bill Plock
303 is heading to St. George to bring you in-person coverage of the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships. With no Kona this year, all eyes are on the desert of southwest Utah. With a hilly run course, fast bike and a predicted temperature near 100 degrees, the real sizzle isn’t the rubber meeting the road, it’s the clash of top triathletes on heels of the Collins Cup that has no doubt sparked some rivalries.
In the women’s field in particular, the match up of Daniela Ryf and Taylor Knibb seems most intriguing. At the Collins Cup they went head to head and Knibb had the biggest victory of the day of all athletes crushing Daniela by double digit minutes. But Daniela reportedly wasn’t feeling her best and we all know of the four time IRONMAN World Champion capabilities. No doubt she is looking for some revenge. Obviously as the championship, the field is stacked. Maybe there is a chink in Ryf’s armor? Maybe not, but Lucy Charles, Ellie Salthouse, Sky Moench, Paula Findlay and Jeanni Metzler, all with great races in Slovakia could be in the mix at the end. No doubt there are others like Holly Lawrence who crashed in the Collins Cup could fight for the podium.
The mens field offers similar drama with Sam Long, the top ranked American and one of the favorites will have stiff competition from Lionel Sanders, Gustav Iden and fellow Norwegian and Olympic Gold Medalist Kristian Blummenfelt. Last May, Long and Sanders battled shoulder to shoulder in St. George and the two have had some fun social media banter in the last 12 months. After the race in May, Long said he knew he could take advantage of the downhill with his long stride and he did so almost winning so it will be interesting to see what happens.
The Norwegians are going to be tough to beat. Both Iden and Blummenfelt have had fantastic seasons. Iden handedly won his race in Slovakia and Blummenfelt has focused on training for St. George since winning Olympic gold. With no Jan Frodeno, putting odds on this race is challenging. There are many podium worthy contenders like Chris Leiferman, Rudy Von Berg, Alistair Brownlee, Ben Kanute, Javier Gomez, Sam Appleton and maybe a dark horse to watch is Collin Chartier from Louisville, Colorado.
Collin was a guest this past week on the 303Endurance Podcast and talked about his experience at the Collins Cup and his preparation for St. George. He has had a breakthrough season and narrowly finished second in his race in Slovakia. If he hadn’t had some stomach issues, he may have won. He is doing some special preparations on his bike with shorter cranks and gear ratios designed to open his hips for a faster run in St. George. Have a listen here to learn more: https://303endurance.libsyn.com/collin-chartier-collins-cup-recap
Off to the desert, stay tuned!