Archive | Kona Kings & Queens

Kona 2019 Kings & Queens: Josh Amberger

Kona Kings & Queens is a collaboration project with sports photographer James Mitchell to highlight some of the Pros racing in Kona. James supplies his awesome pictures (for more check his Instagram account), I add some data and commentary.

JM KoK JoshAmberger

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Josh continues to be the best swimmer on the Ironman distance, and he’s likely going to be the T1 leader in Kona for the third year in a row. A lot of the dynamic in the early part of the race will depend on his pace at the start of the swim: Will he swim away from everyone else in the field as in 2017 (maybe even going for a course record this year?), or will he start at a more moderate pace which resulted in a much bigger lead group in 2018? Maybe he will find “a middle ground” that helps to quickly create a small lead group of athletes who are then able to build a nice gap to the chase group. This would be great for the faster swimmers such as Jan Frodeno or Tim O’Donnell but might create problems for the others who then will either have to work harder on their own or lose more time than they would like to.

Once on the bike, Josh has been riding well in Kona and was able to stay with the faster bike riders at least until Hawi. Maybe that was a bit too hard for him, he lost a lot of time in the second half of the bike and also didn’t have a good run: In 2017 he finished 29th after a 3:25 marathon, in 2018 he DNF’d. With his additional experience in long-distance racing and in Kona, he’ll be looking to have a better result this year.

In his 2019 Ironman races he was able to run sub-3 marathons and I’m sure that’s his target for Kona as well. It’ll be interesting to see what pacing strategy he’s going to choose for his 2019 Kona race.


This is an excerpt from my “Kona 2019 Rating Report”. You can download your copy here.

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Kona 2019 Kings & Queens: Susie Cheetham

Kona Kings & Queens is a collaboration project with sports photographer James Mitchell to highlight some of the Pros racing in Kona. James supplies his awesome pictures (for more check his Instagram account), I add some data and commentary.

JM QoK Susie Cheetham

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Susie has been up and down in Kona: She has two sixth places in 2015 and 2017, but also two disappointments with a DNF in 2016 and a 26th in 2018. Based on this series, she’s due for another Kona Top 10 this year. Her win at IM Hamburg has shown that she’s ready to hard work on the bike and is then still able to run well. A similar performance in Kona would see her in a great T2 position, ready to fight for a good Kona result on the run.


This is an excerpt from my “Kona 2019 Rating Report”. You can download your copy here.

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Kona 2019 Kings & Queens: Andi Dreitz

Kona Kings & Queens is a collaboration project with sports photographer James Mitchell to highlight some of the Pros racing in Kona. James supplies his awesome pictures (for more check his Instagram account), I add some data and commentary.

JM KoK Andi Dreitz

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Andi raced his first long-distance race at the end of the 2017 season and has quickly found his stride. In 2018 he was second at Challenge Roth, then he finished 13th in Kona, leading the chase group for most of the bike leg. He played a big role in Patrick Lange’s race as well – his strong effort on the bike helped Patrick to reach T2 is a great position to defend his title.

This season also went well for Andi: He was able to secure an early slot with a sixth place at IM South Africa. This opened up his summer calendar and he was able to once again race Challenge Roth. This year he and Andi Boecherer kept Cam Wurf from taking the lead on the bike, and after a solid 2:51 marathon Andi became the first Franconian athlete to win in Roth.

Andi is a solid Top 10 contender for Kona, however he had a bike crash when he was racing 70.3 Worlds in Nice. He’s already back on his bike and in his final Kona prep in Gran Canaria. Fingers crossed that he’ll be on the Kona start line fit and healthy – then you can expect him to play an even bigger role in this year’s race!


This is an excerpt from my “Kona 2019 Rating Report”. You can download your copy here.

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Kona 2019 Kings & Queens: Jocelyn McCauley

Kona Kings & Queens is a collaboration project with sports photographer James Mitchell to highlight some of the Pros racing in Kona. James supplies his awesome pictures (for more check his Instagram account), I add some data and commentary.

JM QoK Jocelyn McCauley

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Even though Jocelyn had qualified with a course-record win in New Zealand in March, she decided to race IM Texas just eight weeks later. And what a race it was: Jocelyn helped create one of the closest Ironman races that also included Daniela Ryf.

Jocelyn swam six seconds slower than Daniela, but then refused to let Daniela ride away on the bike. When super-biker Kim Morrison joined them after closing a four-minute swim gap, the lead group of three stayed together for the rest of the bike leg. Jocelyn even was audacious enough to take a turn at the front for the last 15k and was the first to reach T2. This was the first time ever that Daniela was not the T2 leader in one of her Ironman races, and only the second time that Daniela didn’t post the fastest bike split. (The other race was Dani’s very first IM in Zürich 2014 when Iron legend Natascha Badmann was a few minutes quicker on the bike.)

But the fun wasn’t over in T2: Jocelyn quickly took the lead and was able to build a gap of two minutes after 12k. Her lead stayed the same until 25k before Daniela rallied and slowly started to cut down on Jocelyn’s lead. Still, it took her until 36k before she was able to wrestle the lead from Jocelyn. In the end, Daniela won by less than two minutes.

Will we see a repeat of Jocelyn’s plan in Kona? She should be a bit ahead of Daniela after the swim, so let’s see if she’s going to stick to Daniela when she moves ahead. But even if Dani is way stronger on the bike than in Texas and Jocelyn isn’t able to follow her, I expect Jocelyn to race strong on the bike. When she was tenth in Kona 2017, she finished with a 3:16 marathon. This year, both her marathons were under three hours. I’m sure Jocelyn will do her part to make the female Kona 2019 race very interesting!


This is an excerpt from my “Kona 2019 Rating Report”. You can download your copy here.

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Kona 2019 Kings & Queens: Joe Skipper

Kona Kings & Queens is a collaboration project with sports photographer James Mitchell to highlight some of the Pros racing in Kona. James supplies his awesome pictures (for more check his Instagram account), I add some data and commentary.

JM KoK Joe Skipper

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Last year’s seventh place in Kona was a huge step forward in Joe’s racing and probably an even better performance than his sub-8 finish in Roth 2016. As is typical for him he lost some time in the swim and in the first half of the bike. But then he was part of a strong second bike group with Bart Aernouts and Matt Russell that was able to make up time to the race favorites. He also paced well on Ali’i, running an even marathon and moving ahead of athletes struggling in the second half of the run. He’s still looking for a good 2019 result – after a 4th in Texas he had a DNF in Germany (struggling with an injury) and a DQ in Wales when he threw away his tube after fixing a flat. He did some of his heat prep with Patrick Lange in Texas – maybe he was able to glean some of Patrick’s secrets for a fast Kona run?

(Correction: Not sure where I got the idea that Joe was prepping in Texas. Joe himself pointed out to me that he was training on Maui and doing a few sessions with Sebastian Kienle. I’m sure Sebi had some good ideas for racing well in Kona!)


This is an excerpt from my “Kona 2019 Rating Report”. You can download your copy here.

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