Kona 2019: Pre-Race Predictions
It was tough picking a top 10 for Kona with the unpredictable nature of Ironman racing, especially in the conditions that the Big Island provides. Our #10 pick for the women is Imogen Simmonds, one of the youngest competitors racing the October event. This will be Imogen's first year racing at the Ironman World Championship & is also the only rookie at the race in our top 10 for both genders. We realized she should be on our list when we saw her podium performance at her first 70.3 World Championship, earning 3rd alongside two of the most decorated world champions in Nice!
It's been a few years, 4 to be exact, since we've seen the most dominant Swiss female (not named Natascha or Daniela) at the event. Caroline "Xena" Steffen has been inside the top 10 every time she's raced here from 2010 through 2015, placing 2nd, 5th, 2nd, 5th, 5th, & 9th respectively. She also has 2 world titles at the ITU Long Distance World Championships in the same years she took 2nd in Kona. At 41 years of age, it may be one of the last chances for us to see her race in the top 10 on the Big Island, making her our #9 pick.
In the #8 spot for the women is Sarah Crowley. She's taken 15th, 3rd, & 6th respectively over the last 3 years at the event, so a top 10 would certainly align with her past performances.
Sarah True has had to work extremely hard to return after a 4th place finish last year, suffering in the heat during 2 Ironman races before finally qualifying at her last chance in Mont-Tremblant. While Sarah has shown her incredible grit to make it back, she's likely burned through most of her matches against her main rivals who have all qualified much earlier in the year than her, which is why we're giving her our 7th place pick.
Heather Jackson has taken 3rd, 4th, & 5th from 2015 through 2017 at the IMWC. We watched her earn a hard-fought victory at Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga earlier this year, and think she'll take 6th this year in Kona.
3X Ironman World Champion, Mirinda Carfrae is good for another 5th place performance despite her recent wrist fracture, assuming she can get through the swim alright. It'd be great to see her pickup an 8th podium on the Big Island but with that radius injury it's going to be tough!
If this year's Ironman 70.3 World Championships are any indication of how things might play out in the swim in Hawaii, then Lucy Charles-Barclay may have more close company than usual right after T1. While Lucy isn't likely to receive another drafting penalty in Kona, she's likely to be challenged for the lead earlier & from more competitors than in the past, which is why we're placing her just off the podium in 4th this year.
We've heard that this is her last go in Kona, so Kaisa Sali is likely eager to get one last chance at a podium there. She's consistently run well and has been in the top 10 on a couple occasions, so we think it's possible for her to take 3rd, especially if the run is relatively hot.
She outruns many of the professional men whenever she races & has stood on the podium at both Ironman & Ironman 70.3 World Championships in 2018. Anne Haug is likely to soon be unbeatable at the longer distances if injuries won't continue to slow her down. We were honored that she'd chosen to ride our Alpha X aerobar & Omega X brakes in 2018 & believe that she'll move up to 2nd place at Kona 2019!
Daniela Ryf has been utterly dominant in the longer distances ever since she ended her ITU career. At 32 she has the potential for many more years at the top, to be considered in the future as the greatest female triathlete of all time! Picking her for the win seems to be the obvious choice with her stellar recent track record.
Thanks for reading! Check back at TriRig.com, or bookmark the tag tririg.com/hawaii2019 for all of this year's coverage. View 2018 coverage at tririg.com/hawaii2018 and so on, or just see everything Kona-related at tririg.com/hawaii.