Archive | AthleteFocus

Kona Kings & Queens: David McNamee

This is an excerpt from my “Kona 2018 Rating Report“. You can download your copy here.

David PointsDavid Bib

McNamee RunDavid was a big surprise on the 2017 Kona podium. Similar to Patrick, he was able to limit the time he lost on the bike and then was able to have the second-best marathon of the day – running himself into third place and becoming the first male British athlete on the podium.

David struggled in his 2018 Ironman when he finished IM Austria with a sub-standard 3:30 marathon. But he’s had a couple of good 70.3 that show he’s still able to race (and run!) well. He’s also proven in the past that he races well in the Kona heat – he’s one of the few athletes that have set their marathon PR in Kona. (The only other male Pro racing this year is Patrick Lange.)

With his run strength in Kona, David has an outside chance to repeat on the podium, especially if 2018 Kona becomes another runner’s race.

Photo: David on the run at 70.3 Barcelona where he finished second to Javier Gomez. Credit: James Mitchell

Kona Kings & Queens: Sarah Crowley

This is an excerpt from my “Kona 2018 Rating Report“. You can download your copy here.

Sarah PointsSarah Bib

Sarah had a great 2017 Ironman racing season that included two Regional Championships and a third place in Kona, when she rode with Daniela for most of the bike ride and then battled with Heather Jackson for the whole marathon. After struggling with a few injuries at the start of the season, Sarah is back to racing well: She was third at the European Championships and then won IM Hamburg just three weeks later.

Sarah is doing well in competitive fields and always seems to have something extra to give when a race is getting tight. You can expect another test of her “racing smarts” in Kona, as it’s very likely that there is going to be less than five minutes between second and sixth place late in the race. And if she manages to improve on her series of 3:04 to 3:06 marathons, she may even be able to set her sights a bit higher than “just another” podium finish.

9 Crowley

Photo: Sarah on the IM Hamburg bike course. Credit: James Mitchell

Kona Kings & Queens: Heather Jackson

This is an excerpt from my “Kona 2018 Rating Report“. You can download your copy here.

Heather BibHeather Points

Heather has raced Kona three times now, finishing fifth (2015), third (2016) and fourth (2017). Obviously, she’ll be eying another podium finish this year. Her results in 2018 include wins at Wildflower, 70.3 Chattanooga and a dominating win at IM Lake Placid. Even with tough conditions, she was just nine minutes off her own course record.

In her previous Kona races Heather has been able to move through the field on the bike and then secure a good finish with a strong run. Further improvements in the swim would make it easier for her to move into a great position in T2. She’s nominally the best bike rider among the top contenders (of course with the exception of Daniela who is on a completely different level on the bike), but she will also have to deal with other athletes trying to stay with her. With the number of strong runners in the Kona field, she’ll be looking for a gap after the bike, she said that she’s still having nightmares of running the whole marathon with Sarah Crowley in a battle for third place. Heather is one of the few athletes who set their run PR in Kona (3:06 from last year), and for another finish in the Top 3 she probably needs to set a new one this year.

Heather Bike 2016 Jay

Photo: Heather on the way to her third place finish in Kona 2016. Credit: Jay Prasuhn

Kona Kings & Queens: Sebastian Kienle

This is an excerpt from my “Kona 2018 Rating Report“. You can download your copy here.

Sebi BibSebi Points

When Sebi claimed the Kona 2014 title, he won the race on the bike. But in the following years his competition didn’t allow him to build another big lead, so he has been working hard on his run, walking a fine line between increased run volume and risking an injury. When he’s been able to get the training in he wants, he’s been consistently running around 2:45 – but so far he hasn’t been able to run faster than a 2:49 in Kona. (That was in 2016 when he finished second behind Jan Frodeno.)

This season an early validation race in Cozumel allowed Sebi to race Challenge Roth. His win included an overall PR on a legitimate course with a swim PR and his best combined bike-run split, showing that he continues to improve as a triathlete. There aren’t many athletes that can match him on the bike, and they’ll also have to be prepared for a sub-2:45 marathon in order to keep Sebi from reclaiming the Kona title.


Thorsten: What’s your view on your Kona result from last year?

Sebastian: With the good results there were expectations for the race – and that was certainly not to finish fourth. There are always things you can’t influence, but after the bike I was in exactly the position I wanted to be. Therefore I was disappointed when I wasn’t able to make the “last step”.

T: Looking at the run times, it looks as if none of the fast bike riders had a good marathon. Have you changed anything in your training for this year?

S: I don’t think that Lionel had a bad run. But when you’re riding alone or in a small group, putting up a fast time requires extra energy compared to the big bike group. One of the hardest things is to find the right balance between attacking on the bike and saving energy for the run. This year I would have liked to put in more run training, but I’m limited by my achilles problems. Still, I think I’ll be in a better position for the second half of the marathon. And as every year we’re trying to further close the gap after the swim. I’m happy with my early season form, even if I would have like to have won in St. George and Samorin.

T: How do the other athletes in the field change your race plan for Kona?

S: There are even more variables in this year’s race. My own goal is to be in a position after the swim to have a few more tactical options, the base goal is to be ahead of Lionel and Cam Wurf in T1. I don’t have a problem if the race is quick from the start and there isn’t a big group that Patrick or Gomez can “hide” in. Last year Lionel, Wurf and I didn’t ride in the big group for long anyways – we caught the group so late (around 90k) that we didn’t have much time left to make a difference. 
”The best Kona field ever” – we hear that every year, it might finally be true this year. Currie, Gomez, Hoffman, Nilsson .. none of them would be a huge surprise on the podium or even for the win.

13 Kienle

Photo: Sebi on the run at Challenge Samorin, just before getting caught by Lionel. Credit: James Mitchell

Kona Kings & Queens: James Cunnama

This is an excerpt from my “Kona 2018 Rating Report“. You can download your copy here.

James PointsJames Bib[float left: points]

James had a stellar second half of 2017: After qualifying with a fourth place in Frankfurt, he won IM Hamburg with one of the fastest runs of the year and finished fifth in Kona. After a serious crash and a few broken ribs he struggled at the start of the 2018 season, but was still able to finish sub-8 at Challenge Roth and secured his Kona slot with a third place at IM Hamburg.

James knows what is needed to do well in Kona: Not lose too much time on the bike (he was just four minutes behind in T2 in 2017) and then run well off the bike. He’s been training with a 2:40 Kona marathon in mind, but maybe this will have to wait a bit after the tough start to his 2018 season. But even a slight improvement on his 2:56 marathon from last year would see him fighting for a podium.

5 Cunnama

Photo: James on the bike at Challenge Samorin, Credit: James Mitchell

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