MaccaNOW Foundation head Kurt Taylor sits down with triathlon powerhouse couple Belinda and Justin Granger for their insights about Kona leading into the 2017 Ironman World Championship.
What is race week like for the pros on the island?
- Interesting bit: which ones get to Kona early, which ones are in Hawaii but not in Kona, and which ones haven’t arrived?
- Anyone who has won Kona is a phenomenal athlete, end of story
- Europeans want to get out of the cold winter; sponsorship demands from US athletes motivate others to arrive early
- Financial considerations to arriving early, ridiculously expensive on the island
- Ben Hoffman doesn’t like to get caught up in the hype, would have worked out what is best for him
- German domination last year: Patrick Lange with a 2:39 marathon and a penalty on the bike, Jan and Sebi
- No one has had the perfect season w/ no injury and sickness except for Sebi
- Jan has been sick midseason and recently; implications of being sick (time out from key sessions), but intelligent with race choices
- Lange has had a bad year, injured a lot, probably will not be able to run that same performance from last year
- Ben Hoffman could have a good crack at it, James Cunnama has had a phenomenal season, men who can produce a stunning back end marathon
- Lionel Sanders: definitely improved swim, last year’s race was a letdown but done all the right things this year with swim coach but Kona swim is tough, he can’t afford to give up any time
- Everyone wants to see Lionel and Jan run head-to-head
- Jan hasn’t raced anybody this year, how is he going to respond? He’s used to dominating alone but dominating others? Is he mentally fit not to make tactical mistakes?
- Three Konas put Jan in rarefied territory, sets up his brand
- Frederik van Lierde needs a good bike ride to be podium contention
- Terenzo Bozzone and Tim Reed on paper as a talent and hard worker would be a top 3 contender anywhere else in the world except for Kona because of their sweat rates
- Tim Don weak armor when riding at someone else’s pace especially if someone attacks the back end of the bike
- Jan Frodeno’s only weakness is himself.
- There’s always somebody you don’t expect to come through (Ben Hoffman, Luke McKenzie, Frodeno’s training partner Nick Kastelein)
- Thoroughbreds vs. Workhorses
Kona trivia: 1998 was last year a new winner won without being on the podium the previous year. Only Sanders could potentially do this. There’s no one else who can take the win without being up in the Top 5 previously.
There’s never been a male Chrissie Wellington.
How Ironman can get a sub-8 time to happen in Kona: put a price on it. Can we crowdsource this?
- What is Daniela Ryf’s headspace like?
- Anja Beranek: can she stay with Daniela this year?
- Ryf could be not out front this year from the swim: Lucy Charles, Lauren Brandon are strong swimmers and can ride a bike
- Daniela’s patience is a virtue, can take control on the bike at any point
- Heather Jackson new to Ironman distance and running a marathon in Kona, but one of the smartest of all the females in race selection; could be up in Top 5
- Sarah Crowley is like the Lionel Sanders of the women, can hurt better than anyone; biggest improvement in the swim so she can get out with the lead group
- Rachel Joyce and Lindsey Corbin back in the field
- Women’s podium outside of Daniela: Heather Jackson, Sarah Crowley, Lucy Charles
- Laura Siddall potential Top 10
- Melissa Hauschildt continues to self-sabotage, such a shame about talent
- Can’t afford to go into Kona with any issues
- If you have one bad season in this fickle sport people will forget about you, like Leanda Cave
- Caroline Steffen will be back to racing next year, but doubtful for Kona beyond one more year
- Growth and transformation of the women’s race from Chrissie, then Rinny, then Daniela who is in contention right from the gun
- Ryf is first example of female world championship athlete without a weakness
- Chrissie Wellington would have developed herself to stay in contention if she wanted to keep competing for the world championship
Discussing the future of the sport: ITU racers strong over all three legs. Once they move up to longer distances, fiercer competition but not always a sure recipe for success
- Justin – Frodeno, Brent McMahon, Tim O’Donnell; Ryf, Crowley, Charles
- Belinda – Ryf, Crowley, Jackson; Frodeno, Kienle, O’Donnell
- Some athletes race better when they’re “hungry”