Kona: Who's Chasing? Who's not?

So far, 49 men and 34 women have qualified or verified and accepted their entries in the 2016 Ironman World Championship. Pro men have 10 more slots and pro women have 7 more slots available by the August 21 deadline for accumulating KPR points available at three P-2000 Ironman races and two P-1500 Ironman 70.3 races.

While KPR points leaders have no distracting choices to be made in their preparation for the October 8 Kona clash, it’s a more complicated story for triathletes on the edge of qualification.

Of the eight triathletes included in this story, one declined a spot earned July 24, two of the leading contenders for the August 21 slots are standing pat, two of the contenders for the August 21 slots are abandoning their Kona quest, and three are racing Ironman Mt. Tremblant.

Emma Bilham - Politely declined

The 29-year-old Swiss Ironman rookie placed 2nd at Ironman France and Ironman Switzerland and scored 5,355 points. This placed her 28th on the pro women KPR list and earned her a July 24 invitation to race Kona – which she declined. Bilham explained: “It's a pretty stressful time for most triathletes, especially for a rookie like me who never considered Kona at all.” Ultimately, it was “Just a little early in my triathlon career to be aiming high in Kona. I need a bit more training and experience.” Her coach Brett Sutton said: “Emma had a stellar year. But I advised her: ‘You’re learning to be a professional. We do not do the 'holiday race thing ' like 20 of the other female pros. We go to Kona when I think you can crack the top 10 and not before. Now get to work!”

Kyle Buckingham – Standing pat

The 32-year-old South African zoomed up in the KPR standings with a 2,000 point win at Ironman Vineman. While that came too late to make the July 24 first round, it put him in prime position to make the final round. His 3,840 KPR points put him behind only Bertrand Billard among the still-unqualified pros seeking one of the 10 slots available August 21. While there are several men within range, Buckingham will stand pat: “I will not be racing again to bump up to a higher spot. If it's enough then great. It is not worth pushing the body and being worn out at the most important and iconic race of the year.”

Callum Millward – Still chasing

The 33-year-old New Zealander scored 3,580 KPR points to put behind only Bertrand Billard and Kyle Buckingham among the still-unqualified seeking the final 10 Kona slots. Millward will race Ironman Mt. Tremblant on August 21. “My calf, which I hurt in Whistler, has still been temperamental so I’m playing that by ear. I need a 5th or better to improve my points. I was in 5th when I retired at 23km in Whistler, and believe me, I would have finished if I could have. If I didn’t race again, I’m not 100% confident my points would hold up. Technically I’d be [3rd or] 4th in line. I know how desperate the other men are to get to Kona, and it’s going to be very close. I’ve recovered well from Whistler – not running that final 19km saved my legs a lot.”

Chris McDonald – no sweat

McDonald finished 2nd at Ironman Vineman July 30, and that bumped him to 3,525 KPR points, 4th in line for the final 10 Kona slots. If anything, McDonald is impervious to Kona qualifying desperation: “I am on the entry list for Tremblant but honestly it is not to chase points. I think my points would hold up without it. Honestly, chasing points is the worst idea possible. You should race what you want to race and if you are good enough you will qualify.”

Matt Chrabot – Not desperate

The 33-year-old rising U.S. star has 3,470 points which puts him behind five still-unqualified male rivals seeking the 10 Kona slots available August 21: “I'd love to race Kona this year, but unfortunately it doesn't make any financial sense. Not to mention that I haven't been putting in the level of bike volume that's necessary to be competitive, so I will be focusing on ITU Long Course World Champs and IM Arizona.”

Paul Matthews – One more for cash and Kona

On the strength of a 4th place finish at Ironman Brazil, the 33-year-old Australian stands 56th on the KPR list with 3,225 points – and behind seven as-yet-unqualified pro men seeking the final 10 Kona slots: “I'm racing IM Tremblant. To be 100% honest, I'm doing it for money. It's a $100,000 purse and hopefully the field isn't quite as good as it normally would be with everyone getting ready for Kona. Saying that, the points I get from Tremblant will be all positive points so I think I'm in a pretty good position to get one of the last Kona spots. I know if I do qualify, it's hard for someone to ace an Ironman 7 weeks out but I've seen Liz Blatchford have great success at it. I discussed it with Craig Alexander and I've come up with a plan for to be in the best shape I can be for Kona!”

Justin Daerr – Enough’s enough

The 35-year-old U.S. veteran has 2,990 points and ranks 61st on the overall KPR pro men list and 11th or 12th of the still-unqualified pro men seeking one of the final 10 Kona slots. A good day at Ironman Mt. Tremblant would get him a Kona slot but Daerr is passing on that chance. “I will not be racing any late season qualifying races in August. Last year I raced IM Whistler and Mont Tremblant back to back and finished 3rd and 2nd respectively. Those races went a little better than expected and I qualified for Kona. However, the turnaround after those two races proved to be too much and I did not race well in Hawai'i. This year I tried to qualify for Hawai'i with Texas and Whistler. I managed a 6th and 4th but ultimately did not get the job done. With that above in mind, I'm looking to close the year out with a solid race.”

Jordan Rapp – loves Mt. Tremblant

If a desire to make the Kona field was his sole consideration, Rapp probably would not be rolling the dice in an attempt to rise from 19th of the still-unqualified contenders to earn one of the final 10 Kona slots. But his love for the Mt. Tremblant race and his desire to defend his 2015 title there make a long shot try for a 2016 Kona slot worthwhile: “Ironman Mt. Tremblant is a great race. I was really disappointed that the ‘practical’ approach to Kona Qualifying would have kept me from going back. And I've only ever raced in title defense once - IMAZ 2010, which was a hugely emotional race coming after my accident. So, as tough as it is to have not qualified, it's really motivating to be going back to Mont-Tremblant with bib #1. While I need to have a great race to qualify, I'm not going there with the idea of doing as little effort as possible. I took the bike course record last year but just missed the overall course record by about a minute. I know I can go faster.”

2016 men's KPR standing as of July 31

1. Jan Frodeno (GER) 13,350 * AQ Recent champion
2. Sebastian Kienle (GER) 12,440 * Ironman Regional Champion
3. Brent McMahon (CAN) 10,615 * Ironman Regional Champion
4. Andy Potts (USA) 9,520 q
5. Timothy Van Berkel (AUS) 8,985 * Ironman Regional Champion
6. Eneko Llanos (ESP) 8,525 q
7. Lionel Sanders (CAN) 7,370 q
8. Timothy O’Donnell (USA) 7,325 q
9. Andreas Raelert (GER) 7,200 not yet validated with Ironman finish
10. Tim Don (GBR) 7,025 q
11. Andi Bocherer (GER) 6,870 q
12. Tyler Butterfield (BMU) 6,855 q
13. Matthew Russell (USA) 6,650 q
14. Boris Stein (GER) 6,440 q
15. Cyril Viennot (FRA) 6,170 q
16. David Dellow (AUS) 5,975 q
17. Ben Hoffman (USA) 5,605 * Ironman Regional Champion
18. Marko Albert (EST) 5,550 q
19. James Cunnama (RSA) 5,225 q
20. Bart Aernouts (BEL) 5,045 q
21. Kevin Collington (USA) 5,035 q
22. Terenzo Bozzone (NZL) 4,945 q
23. Patrick Lange (GER) 4,845 * Ironman Regional Champion
24. Luke McKenzie (AUS) 4,675 q
25. Markus Thomschke (GER) 4,605 q
26. Timo Bracht (GER) 4,595 q
27. David McNamee (GBR) 4,590 q
28. Stefan Schmid (GER) 4,560 q
29. Jesse Thomas (USA) 4,545 q
30. Tim Reed (AUS) 4,475 q
31. Matt Trautman (RSA) 4,470 * reportedly declined
32. Alessandro Degasperi (ITA) 4,460 q
33. Ruedi Wild (SUI) 4,435 q
34. Pedro Gomes (POR) 4,397 q
35. Ronnie Schildknecht (SUI) 4,190 q
36. Michael Weiss (AUT) 4,095 q
37. Kirill Kotsegarov (EST) 4,068 q
38. David Plese (SVN) 4,045 q
39. Mauro Baertsch (SUI) 4,025 q
40. Bertrand Billard (FRA) 3,990 * eligible for August 21 KPR
41. Joe Skipper (GBR) 3,935 q
42. Ivan Raña (ESP) 3,845 q
43. Kyle Buckingham (RSA) 3,840 * eligible for August 21 KPR
44. Christian Kramer (GER) 3,780 q
45. Andrej Vistica (HRV) 3,770 q
46. Jav Van Berkel (SUI) 3,735 q
47. Denis Chevrot (DRA) 3,735 q
48. Trevor Wurtele (CAN) 3,725 q
49. Per Bittner (GER) 3,620 q
50. Jens Petersen-Bach (DNK) 3,610 q
60. Pete Jacobs (AUS) 3,055 * AQ former champion
74. Frederik Van Lierde (BEL) * AQ former champion

2014 women's KPR standing as of July 27

1. Daniela Ryf (SUI) 15,250 * AQ and Ironman Regional Champion
2. Susie Cheetham (GBR) 10,140 q
3. Sarah Piampiano (USA) 9,390 q
4. Heather Jackson (USA) 8,790 q
5. Lucy Gossage (GBR) 8,740 q
6. Rachel Joyce (GBR) 7,840 * declined - pregnant
7. Julia Gajer (GER) 7,540 * Ironman Regional Champion
8. Liz Blatchford (AUS) 7,200 * injured, did not validate
9. Gurutz Frades (ESP) 7,070 7,860 q
10. Camilla Pedersen (DNK) 6,730 q
11. Lisa Roberts (USA) 6,715 q
12. Michelle Vestervby (DNK) 6,605 q
13. Annabel Luxford (AUS) 6,580 q
14. Åsa Lundström (SWE) 6,575 q
15. Elizabeth Lyles (USA) 6,525 * Ironman Regional Champion
16. Meredith Kessler (USA) 6,475 q
17. Anja Beranek (GER) 6,455 q
18. Jodie Swallow (GBR) 6,420 * Ironman Regional Champion
19. Caroline Steffen (SUI) 6,220 5,335 * Not yet validated with Ironman finish
20. Kaisa Lehtonen (FIN) 6,140 * Ironman Regional Champion
21. Katja Konschak (GER) 6,140 q
22. Alicia Kaye (USA) 6,055 q
23. Heather Wurtele (CAN) 5,910 q
24. Mareen Hufe (GER) 5,750 q
25. Linsey Corbin (USA) 5,590 q
26. Sarah Crowley (AUS) 5,535 q
27. Tine Deckers (BEL) 5,440 q
28. Emma Bilham (SUI) 5,355 * declined
29. Daniela Sämmler (GER) 5,290 q
30. Michelle Bremer (NZL) 5,285 * declined
31. Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) 5,200 q
32. Tine Holst (DEN) 5,185 q
33. Mary Beth Ellis (USA) 4,900 * eligible for August 21 KPR slot
34. Melissa Hauschildt (AUS) 4,750 * Ironman Regional Champion
35. Ariane Monticeli (BRA) 4,715 q
36. Saleta Castro Nogueria (ESP) * eligible for August 21 KPR slot
37. Magali Tisseyre (CAN) 4,605 * not yet validated with Ironman finish
38. Verena Walter (GER) 4,600 q
39. Alexandra Tondeur (BEL) 4,530 q
40. Beth Gerdes (USA) 4,490 (? Reportedly declined)
41. Carrie Lester (AUS) 4,420 q
42. Jodie Robertson (USA) 4,305 q
49. Leanda Cave (GBR) 3,520 *AQ recent champion
53. Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) 3,260 * AQ recent champion