Five-time world champion Craig Alexander will be aiming to keep his perfect record going at IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong.
Alexander, with three IRONMAN and two IRONMAN 70.3 world titles to his credit, is three for three in Geelong after claiming the title in 2009, 2010 and 2014.
The race, on Sunday 8 February, doubles as the National Long Course Championship and comprises a 1.9km swim at Eastern Beach, 90km two-lap bike course and 21km two-lap run along the waterfront.
Alexander will need to bring his 'A Game' as a strong field of Australian and international athletes has been assembled.
"I’ve always enjoyed racing in Geelong, the whole waterfront area is a great place to have a race," he said.
Two-time IRONMAN Cairns Champion Liz Blatchford will go head to head with top seed New Zealand’s Gina Crawford who is in sparkling form after a second place at IRONMAN 70.3 Auckland.
"I haven’t raced in Geelong before. I have heard it’s a tough course and could be extremely hot and windy. Although this slightly scares me, I am also drawn to races in challenging environments which I hope helps my mental strength," Crawford says.
US Olympian Matty Reed leads the international charge with local boy Luke Bell keen to get his season off to a winning start. Fellow Australian Leon Griffin, who will be looking to go one better than his second at IRONMAN 70.3 Auckland, is also a threat.
After spending much of his career traveling for half the year Alexander is looking forward to basing himself at home and spending much of the year racing the burgeoning Asia-Pacific race season. He kicked of his season at IRONMAN 70.3 Auckland, and now comes to Geelong on the back of a strong performance there.
“Twelve years ago I did an ITU world cup race in Geelong and came fourth and I won a medal at an Aussie sprint champs there as well. I really just enjoy racing the course,” he said. “It has that natural amphitheatre which is great, and it always attracts a great field. I think it is one of the best races in Australia,” Alexander said.
After seeing the first half of 2014 ruined by injury Bell is keen to get back into the winners circle, and notch up his first win since becoming a father.
"Our new daughter Matilda was an amazing Christmas present. I will never complain about the pains of racing and training again. Training has been going quite well, I was able to have a nice rest period leading into Christmas before getting back into routine," he says.
"Since then 'touch wood' Matilda has taken on my sleeping and eating habits, so training has been going quite well. To be honest trying to juggle the unpredictable Melbourne weather has been more or a task than Matilda."
"I’m excited to be racing. I like Geelong and the surrounding area – the Surf Coast especially. I’ve raced and trained in Geelong a bunch of times so know the area well," Blatchford says.
Australian’s Rebecca Keat, Madeleine Oldfield and former US marine Stephanie Jones will make sure Crawford and Blatchford don’t have it all their own way.
Race day on Sunday 8 February has attracted more than 1400 age group athletes chasing their own personal bests, and qualifying slots for the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships.
For event information visit www.ironmangeelong.com
IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong begins in the calm waters of Corio Bay, the two lap bike course takes in Geelong’s picturesque waterfront and scenic countryside, while the run overlooks Corio Bay, including Eastern Park and the runner friendly paths along the bay trail.
IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong is proudly supported by the City of Greater Geelong, State Government of Victoria and Toyota.
Courtesy: Ironman Asia Pacific