Ironman 70.3 Worlds favorites

The 2017 Ironman 70.3 World Championship will make history as for the first time the men’s and women's races will be held separately – the idea being to increase fairness and lessen the incidence of men interfering with the women's race. The side benefit for Ironman is that they can accommodate 4,500 elite and age group entries by holding the women’s race on Saturday and the men’s on Sunday on a challenging course in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Without attempting to establish odds, the elite women’s and men’s fields will be listed in order with the favorites first. That means that Daniela Ryf and Javier Gomez will be predicted to win, Holly Lawrence and Sebastian Kienle are likely to finish in the runner-up slots, Sarah Crowley and Tim Don should take bronze medals – and so on.

As always, last minute withdrawals due to injury or illness are very possible and will be corrected up to race start times.

Elite Women

Daniela Ryf, 30, Switzerland

Ryf leads the field in major triumphs with Ironman 70.3 World Championship victories in 2014 and 2015. At the Ironman World Championship she was 2nd in 2014 and won in 2015. While she fell to 4th place last year at the Ironman 70.3 Worlds, she fully recovered a month later with a second win at the Ironman World Championship in a women’s race record time of 8:46:46. This year Ryf won her second Challenge Roth in 8:40:03, won Ironman South Africa in 8:47:02, and took two 70.3 titles in Rapperswil and Dubai. Ryf showed she was only human early in the year with a 3rd place finish behind Emma Pallant and Lucy Charles at Challenge Gran Canaria.

Holly Lawrence, 27, Great Britain

Lawrence is the defending Ironman 70.3 World Champion and since then, Lawrence continues to be a dominating force in the Ironman 70.3 realm as she scored 2017 wins at Oceanside 70.3, the Ironman 70.3 North American Championship in St. George, Santa Rosa 70.3, and Ironman 70.3 Mont Tremblant. Also only human, she finished 3rd at the swim-canceled Escape From Alcatraz

Jeanni Seymour, 25, South Africa

Seymour is hot on the 70.3 front in 2017 with wins at Boulder, Monterrey, and Liuzhou and a 2nd to Lawrence by 3:05 at St. George.

Helle Frederiksen, 36, Denmark

After recovering from a year lost to a knee injury, this Danish star won Augusta 70.3 in 2016, and this year took 3rd at Puerto Rico 70.3, won Otepaa 70.3, and placed second to Crowley at the ITU Long Distance Worlds.

Heather Wurtele, 38, Canada

Wurtele has a stellar record at Ironman 70.3 Worlds with 3rd in 2014, 2nd in 2015, and 3rd last year. This year she was 3rd at Oceanside 70.3 and Challenge the Championship and 2nd at Challenge Heilbronn.

Melissa Hauschildt, 34, Australia

Hauschildt is one of the most decorated Ironman 70.3 competitors in history with World Championship wins in 2011 and 2013 and a 2nd place last year. However, in her Kona debut last year, she was hit by a major version of symptoms that had been dogging her for two years. “It started off as usual with the feeling of a belt around my left thigh with someone gradually tightening the buckle until the quad was completely suffocating. I lost strength in the left leg and then when I kept pushing through the fatigue and pain, the VMO (medial side of the quad) started to tighten up like a deep cramp that was gonna tear the muscle if I didn't stop. I've had this before though, for two years now, but gradually getting worse.” Finally she had to pull out of the run at Kona. A post-race exam showed she had kinking with her iliac artery. Two surgeries later, she was on a long road to recovery. This year she decided to give her leg a competitive test but a distant 9th place at the ITU Long Distance Worlds a few weeks ago showed she was far from her standard and a competitive appearance at Chattanooga is doubtful.

“In this section detailing Melissa Hauschildt’s serious iliac injury included in the Ironman 70.3 World Championship preview, I originally misread her blog entry to mistakenly conclude that a “post-race exam showed that she had 'external iliac artery endofibrosis.’

“In fact, Melissa Hauschildt went further in her blog post to explain that that preliminary diagnosis was incorrect. Husband Jared Hauschildt wrote that Melissa’s ultimate and correct diagnosis “involved the common iliac artery (a larger artery that branches directly off the descending aorta) and more importantly it was kinking, not endofibritic, which refers to the clogging of the artery over time.” I regret the error and corrected it. - Timothy Carlson

Sarah True, 35, USA

True, a 4th place finisher at the 2012 Olympics, has been transitioning to 70.3s. This year her top performances have been a 3rd at Edinburgh 70.3 and 2nd to Holly Lawrence at Mont Tremblant 70.3.

Annabel Luxford, 35, Australia

Last year, Luxford was 6th at Ironman 70.3 Worlds. She has been very strong in 2017 with 70.3 wins at Geelong and the Ironman 70.3 European Championship at Elsinore, 2nd at Challenge the Championship to Lucy Charles, 2nd at Ironman France, and 4th at Ironman New Zealand.

Emma Pallant, 28, Great Britain

Pallant, the 2016 ITU Duathlon World Champion, has been a consistent middle distance triathlon podium finisher. In 2016, she was 3rd at Zell Am See, 2nd at Bahrain and Budapest, and 6th at Wiesbaden and Monterrey. This year she won Challenge Gran Canaria and Edinburgh 70.3 and took 2nd at Mallorca 70.3

Alicia Kaye, 33, USA

Last year Kaye was 8th at Ironman 70.3 Worlds and 4th at Boulder 70.3. This year Kaye was 2nd at Pucon 70.3, won Puerto Rico 70.3 and was 3rd at Boulder 70.3.

Laura Philipp, 30, GER

Last year Philipp was 7th at Ironman 70.3 Worlds and 3rd at Wiesbaden 70.3. This year she won 70.3s at Zell am See and Mallorca, where she beat Pallant by 1:01.

Note: Heather Jackson of the US, Sarah Crowley of Australia and Rachel Joyce of Great Britain all qualified but chose not to compete at Chattanooga.

Elite Men

Javier Gomez, 34, Spain

Gomez, the 5-time ITU Olympic distance World Champion, 2012 Olympic silver medalist and 2012 XTERRA World Champion, won the Ironman 70.3 Worlds over Jan Frodeno and Tim Don in 2014 and took 3rd at the 2015 70.3 Worlds. With an eye to an Ironman World Championship debut in 2018, Gomez decided to have a go at a second Ironman 70.3 World Championship this year just one week before the World Triathlon Series Grand Final. While his WTS performances have been up and down, his ups include WTS wins at Abu Dhabi and Montreal.

Sebastian Kienle, 33, Germany

This 2-time Ironman 70.3 World Champion, 2nd place finisher at the 2016 Ironman 70.3 Worlds, 2014 Ironman World Champion, and 2016 Ironman Worlds runner-up has had another stellar season in 2017. Kienle won Ironman Frankfurt in 7:41:42 (time aided by a 177km bike leg) was 2nd at Challenge the Championship by 1:43 to Lionel Sanders, and took 3rd at St. George 70.3 behind Alistair Brownlee and Sanders.

Tim Don, 39, Great Britain

Don, the 2006 ITU Olympic distance World Champion and 3rd place finisher at the 2014 Ironman 70.3 Worlds, is having another strong season in 2017. In May he smashed the Ironman-brand men’s record with a 7:40:23 winning time at Ironman Brazil, won 70.3s at Campeche, Liuzhou and Boulder, and took 4th at St George 70.3 behind Brownlee, Sanders and Kienle.

Tim Reed, 32, Australia

The defending Ironman 70.3 World Champion had a decent 2017 with wins at Hell of the West and Philippines 70.3, 2nds at Racine 69.1 and Coeur d’Alene 70.3, and 3rds at Subic Bay 70.3 and the Challenge Melbourne half.

Sam Appleton, 26, Australia

Appleton’s career high point was his six 70.3 wins in 2015. This year he won Racine 69.1, Santa Rosa 70.3 and Geelong 70.3, and took 2nd at the Challenge Melbourne half by 10 minutes over Reed.

Mauricio Mendez, 21, Mexico

This shooting star from Mexico is only 21. So far has he won the 2016 XTERRA World Championship, the 2016 Cabo 70.3 and 2017 Ironman 70.3 Texas highlighted by a 1:12:39 run.

Tyler Butterfield, 34, Bermuda

This 2-time Olympian, winner of the 2014 Abu Dhabi International and 5th place finisher at Kona in 2015 has a strong 2017 highlighted by a sub-8 hour 3rd place at Ironman Texas, a win at Raleigh 70.3, a 2nd at Monterrey 70.3, and a 4th at Dubai 70.3.

Ben Kanute, 25, USA

The 2016 U.S. Olympian has dipped his toe in the non-drafting and middle distance worlds this year highlighted by a win at Escape From Alcatraz, a 3rd at Puerto Rico 70.3 and a 5th at St. George 70.3

Andreas Dreitz, 28, Germany

Dreitz was stronger in 2016 with 70.3 wins at Wiesbaden, Jonkoping and Mallorca and 70.3 2nds at Texas and Oceanside. This year he took 2nd at Mallorca 70.3 and Challenge Prague, 4th at Oceanside 70.3 and Challenge the Championship, and at 9th at the Ironman 70.3 European Championship.

Jesse Thomas, 37, USA

This six-time Wildflower winner and winner at Ironman Lanzarote last year had a decent 2017 with runner-up 70.3 finishes at Peru and Liuzhou.

Brent McMahon, 36, Canada

The man with four sub-8 hour Ironman finishes including a 7:46:10 at Brazil in 2016 had a decent 2017 with a course record smashing win at Ironman Lake Placid and an uninspiring 5th at Philippines 70.3 and 6th at St. George 70.3.

Matt Chrabot, 34, USA

In 2016, Chrabot had a strong year including 3rd at ITU Long Distance Worlds, a win at Racine 44.5, a 2nd at Los Cabos 70.3, and 70.3 3rd places at Monterrey and New Orleans. This year Chrabot’s bests have been runner-up finishes in Boulder – at the Ironman and Ironman 70.3, where he was a close second to Tim Don.

James Cunnama, 34, South Africa

The South African's recent form is hitting stride - a win at Ironman 70.3 Lanzarote. Earlier he took 2nd at Ironman France and 4th at Ironman Frankfurt.