Ironman as a professional sport has stepped up its game the last few years and this year’s race in Kona has the best field ever. I am super excited about the race. These are my predictions and I will try to take as little precautions as possible because I find it boring. Nobody knows how the race anyway so we can just as well guess with a very high degree of confidence and certainty.
- Daniela Ryf – There are quite a few people who would not bet their money on the last five times Ironman Hawaii winner. It is extremely impressing to perform so well on the brutal conditions in Kona each and every year. She is the big favourite this year as well. The difference this year, however, is that she is going to find bigger competition much closer to the finish line. At least that is what I hope.
- Lucy Charles – I could spend a whole hour (or more like 50 minutes) just watching her swimming. It’s just magnificent. While being the one closest to Daniela the last few years she is also relatively new to the sport and evolves each year. Without her drafting penalty in IM 70.3 Worlds, she would only lose to Daniela with two minutes so hopefully, she will be close this year.
- Laura Philipp – I first noticed here in Ironman Barcelona last year. I had a decent race myself finishing at 8:28, and she was basically right behind me at 8:34, in her first Ironman (I think). She had some injuries this year, but that is not always a bad thing for performing in Hawaii.
- There are obviously many other great female racers, but I have not seen the very fit ITU racers stepped into the Ironman scene with superb success in Kona yet. I am sure it will come soon, but not this year.
- Jan Frodeno – I have heard that this year race has no clear favourite. Personally I think that is totally BS. Jan is the favourite and I am absolutely certain that all the other pros have their eyes on him. I have not checked the odds (correction I just did at it was 2.10, maybe I throw in a bet). He is the most professional professional triathlete and has something unsettled on the island.
- Sebastian Kienle – His performance in Frankfurt running up to Frodeno really impressed me. And a 1:09 run split in 70.3 Worlds. It is deeply impressive how he is able to perform in a race that should not suit him very well with a none wetsuit swim and such hot/humid conditions for such a (relatively) strong built body.
- Patrick Lange – I cannot help it, but I don’t have any faith in the two times world champion. That being said I didn’t think that last year or in 2017 either so it’s good that he doesn’t get his confidence from my opinions. The conditions were very favourable for him in 2016,17 and 18 with little wind on the bike. If it’s closer to normal Kona weather he will fall off on the pace on the bike.
- Lionel Sanders – Love the guy and truly hope he excels. Think he will have a good year with an injury preventing him from training himself in a gutter, but don’t think he will be able to take the top spot. My guess is third, fourth or fifth place.
- Cameron Wurf – He got the fourth-highest rating on the betting companies and he will, without doubt, set his mark on the race. Will he win? I am pretty certain that he will not, but who of the great runners will follow him on the bike?
- Alistair Brownlee – In my former blog post, I claimed that his winning mindset would turn out to a weakness in Hawaii. He asked Dave Scott for advice and I believe being patience was one of them. Maybe the tactical error on the early part of the run leg in 70.3 Worlds was enough for him to learn, but a well-established habit is difficult to change. I don’t think he will win, but I am super excited to see how he will colour the race.
- Cody Beals – He is one of my two dark horses. Such a superb performance in IM Mont Tremblant and with his analytic and rational race mindset I suspect he could make a good debut.
- Patrick Nilsson – Dark horse nr.2. I never understood why he never has performed well in Kona earlier. He had world-class performances both in Ironman Barcelona and Ironman Texas. At his best, very few can beat him, and I hope he will be able to show his potential tomorrow.
The race can be followed on Ironman Live and if you want to build up to the race I recommend the video series from Talbot Cox. I am putting my Hawaii shirt and Sporcks Kona socks on and will be glued to the screen the whole day.