The most popular annual Ironman event will take place at Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii Saturday, October 10. Outside Online's Aileen Torres will be covering the big day, but before then, she'll be posting about competitors and all other things Ironman. You can check out her accompanying blog, "Hawaii Adventure," for tips on what to do and where to stay if you're planning to visit.
Brad Culp, editor of Triathlete magazine, has just touched down at Kona, and he took some time out to let us know his top five picks on both the men's and women's sides for this year's race. Here's the lowdown:
Craig Alexander (Australia): "Crowie" is simply the most fit athlete on Earth. He trains harder than anyone else, and if his body is one, he won't be beat.
Eneko Llanos (Spain): Llanos led the race through 17 miles last year, and if he learned anything from that, he'll lead this year's race even longer. His new riding position should serve him very well on Saturday.
Chris McCormack (Australia): "Macca" is the toughest athlete in the mix, and if he's right there in the final few miles, he'll win. Rumor is that he's developed some serious bike power this year.
Andreas Raelert (Germany): Raelert is the wild card among the top contenders. He had one of the fastest Ironman debuts we've ever seen--Ironman Arizona 2008--and there's little doubt that he'll have one of the fastest runs of the day on Saturday.
Andy Potts (USA): Potts was seventh in 2008, with quite literally no Ironman-specific experience. Even though he had a nasty bike wreck last month (at the Chicago Tri), he should at least make the top five--if not better.
Chrissie Wellington (GBR): Most people think she'll win--by a lot--no questions asked.
Mirinda Carfrae (Australia): She can't swim or bike with Wellington, but the tiny Aussie should post one of the fastest runs of the day.
Yvonne Van Vlerken (Netherlands): She hasn't had a great season, but last year's runner-up should be able to get back on the podium--especially if she breaks three hours on the run.
Sandra Wallenhorst (Germany): She's the second-best runner in the field, and that should be enough to get last year's third-place finisher back on the podium.
Linsey Corbin (USA): No one trains harder than Corbin, and if she nails her taper, an American will finally be back on the podium.
And as for Culp's picks for the winners, here they are:
Andreas Raelert: It may be his first time racing in Kona, but Raelert is simply a freak of nature. I believe he will become the first man to run under 2:40.
Mirinda Carfrae: Anyone with half a brain would pick Wellington, but I think she's due to have a bad race in Hawaii, and that should open the door for Carfrae. Mirinda is one of the finest runners I've ever watched, and I think her legs will carry her to the win.