Terenzo Bozzone is set to line up at his third consecutive Ironman New Zealand start this weekend. After claiming third in 2014 and coming in second last year to 11-time victor Cameron Brown in an all-Kiwi podium, Bozzone is looking to make the big leap onto the top spot.
He says, "Kellogg's Nutri-Grain New Zealand has been locked into my schedule since 2009 when I debuted in my Ironman career. As a young triathlete I always went down to watch the race and support legend Cameron Brown. I have had a handful of second and third places over the years but that ultimate race and standing on top of the podium has eluded me."
The 2009 Ironman 70.3 world champion celebrates his 31st birthday leading into the race and believes maturity in Ironman racing is key to winning. "I feel my knowledge of this distance has grown exponentially. Physically and mentally I have matured tenfold and I find myself the most excited and ready I have ever been this early in the season."
With the cancellation of Ironman Melbourne, the Taupo race is the only early-season Ironman in the Asia-Pacific region and has attracted a deep field of competitors. However, Bozzone is confident in his ability and looks forward to testing his mettle. "The male professional field is well stacked which will change the race dynamic, but I know what I need to do out there to have a great race and I am looking forward to testing myself to see how far I have come."
After a bout of food poisoning which left her unable to start the race last year, Swiss star Caroline Steffen is back in the Philippines for Ironman 70.3 Subic Bay. She has otherwise won all the races she has started in the country, winning the Ironman 70.3 Philippines in Cebu City a record three times. "I'm looking forward to head back and settle unfinished business," she states.
The two-time Ironman Asia Pacific champion has been working closely with Daniel Plews of High Performance Sport New Zealand on recommendation of her coach Chris McCormack. She says, "I will use this race to try out new tactics and also as a little test to see where we are. It's still pretty early in the year but I'm very excited to give it a good go."
Ben Hoffman of the USA and Sam Appleton of Australia get their 2016 season underway in the inaugural Ironman 70.3 Buenos Aires. Hoffman says, "Not many people know, but I lived in Argentina for 6 months in 2005 so this will be a small homecoming for me."
The 2014 Ironman World Championship runner-up looks forward to the flat and fast bike and run courses. "It will be a great opportunity to test the body and mind ahead of some bigger early season goals like Ironman South Africa and inject some more speed into the legs," he says. "I have been training well in Arizona and feel ready to get things rolling against a strong field of contenders."
One of those strong contenders is teammate Appleton, who aside from the world championship won all Ironman 70.3 races he started last year. He says, "I'm really looking forward to my first hit out of 2016. I have laid down some really good foundational work for the season and I am excited to see where I am at. I am fit, healthy, and ready to go!"
Team captain Shaikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa will share in the racing spirit by lining up at ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi.
Photo credit: Delly Carr / Bahrain ENDURANCE Media