Men and Women's Preview
Less the 24 hours until the big race. Xtri checked in with some of the top professionals as they make their final physical and mental preparations. Defending 3x World Champ, Craig Alexander said it best, "this will not be a two horse race, it is insulting to even suggest that."
Craig is no doubt in Kona-mode. Looking lean with a newly shaved head, and unwavering determination in his eyes. While rumors of him retiring after last years win circled around, the chance to race Lance gave him a new goal and focus at the beginning of this year. But as we all know, it didn't quite work out as planned. Craig commented briefly on the issues surrounding Lance saying, "I didn't disagree with WTC. It is a black and white issue. But I want to see proof." The thought of throwing it down with Lance was exciting for him, and he liked the idea of knowing that everyone would really have to fine-tune their skills to win against Lance. But regardless, he knows that tomorrow, he will have his hands full trying to defend with the group of guys that are here.
While Macca did not attend the press conference, we know he is ready to fight and come back strong after much of his year looked quite different than his typical race schedule in the past. With 5 titles between Crowie and Macca, there is no question both have new strategies paired up with experience to keep their record going for another year.
Sebastian Keinle, who just came off a big win at the 70.3 World Championship in Vegas immediately mentioned that what worked in Vegas won't work here. "I just want to have a good race and remember to hold back on the bike a bit," Kienle said. With high winds projected for tomorrow, Craig commented that it will be a truer race. The heat and wind are the factors that will decide the real winner here in Kona.
American favorite, Jordan Rapp seems ready to take on the challenge for the first time! When asked, why now, why this year, Jordan explained "I wanted to come and be respectable to the history of the race. I want to put on a performance that is worthy." Jordan, knows what it takes to fight through pain and stay focused, so he will surely be using his past to help him dig deep tomorrow.
Pete Jacobs, who has had great races on the island is in good form due to starting his run training earlier this year than in the past. He has worked a little harder on the bike this year as well. Although he had a great race last year, he mentioned that he still has a lot to learn, especially in this race. "I'm a lot more driven to win. I have used the visualization of getting off of the bike and running with Crowie and Macca.
Michael Raelert is ready to go as well. This year will be special as he will also be lining up with his brother, Andreas. He smiled and stated, it's nice to have the pressure on 4 shoulders not 2. And while he is happy to have some family strength, he also knows that it will not be all smiles on the course. Plain and simple, he stated,"You need a killer instinct or else your not getting on the podium."
With last year's world champ Chrissie Wellington out of the ranks this year, all eyes are on 2010 World Champion Mirinda Carfae. Even though Mirinda has had a mixed bag of races this year, she looks slim and strong and hoping to once again have a little luck on the big island. She has been working hard on her bike this year and has made some changes to improve positioning and speed. Even with the newfound bike speed, she knows that it will still come down to her chasing down the competition on the run.
One other change that not only Mirinda is excited about, but all of the other pro women, is the separated start of the men and women in the swim. This year, the pro women will start 5 minutes after the men. While they are thrilled about this long awaited adjustment, Rinny commented that 8-10 minutes would be even better, "Just make the men start earlier…it wont be that much darker."
Major competition for Rinny comes in the form of Leanda Cave, this years 70.3 World Champion. Leanda said flat out, "Vegas was a good surprise." Coming off the high of a great win, Leanda also mentions that she is in much better shape mentally this year than last year. And as for the separate swim start, no one is more happy than Leanda who is one of the strongest swimmers. She said that it has actually been detrimental to race, getting physically hit and stuck behind some of the slower men. This year, she will fully take advantage of those 5 minutes.
Caroline Steffen, who has also had an incredible year told us that this year, the top 3 is not going to cut it. She wants to win, that's it. And with tons of new media exposure she is not letting it go to her head. She said the "pressure doesn't affect me at all," she will just race her race.
Rachel Joyce is thankfully feeling much better after getting hit with a chest infection knocking her off her feet this week. Rachel told us "I'm grateful at the moment that I will be able to start. You deal with what you were dealt, now I am just banking on all the work I have done in the last 10 months."
And closing it out is Kelly Williamson. A pro that has been posting some unbelievable results this year but has managed to stay a little off the radar. "I feel like a much better athlete than last year." Kelly looks as trim as possible and is also excited to get the race off to a good start being able to manage the swim better, as it will be easier to monitor which women she is swimming with.
All of these women have a serious shot of crossing tomorrows finish line first. Stay tuned to Xtri for all the race day coverage!