Here is a look at the top Kona contenders after IM Brasil (end of May).
At this point, the male race looks is a dead heat between the last two year’s winners, Frederik Van Lierde and Sebastian Kienle. The statistical “front runner status” will be decided when they face off in Frankfurt – but regardless of that result they will both be strong contenders for this year’s Kona win.
Brent McMahon’s two sub-8 IMs (even on fast courses in Arizona and Brasil) have pit him in a good position to at least content for a podium spot. Ivan Rana has added a good IM South Africa to his resume and has enough time to focus on Kona. Craig Alexander, Pete Jacobs and Andreas Raelert are included on the strength of their previous Kona results while Nils Frommhold is one who could surprise if he continues his development over the full distance.
- Frederik Van Lierde: 24% (3-1)
- Sebastian Kienle: 24% (3-1)
- Brent McMahon: 9% (10-1)
- Ivan Rana: 7% (13-1)
- Craig Alexander: 4% (26-1)
- Pete Jacobs: 3% (29-1)
- Andreas Raelert: 3% (30-1)
- Nils Frommhold: 3% (31-1)
Most notable athletes missing in this list? Jan Frodeno has almost unlimited potential – but still needs to have a “good IM” – maybe Frankfurt? The US hopes don’t have good statistical chances: Andy Potts, Tim O’Donnell, Ben Hoffman or Matt Hanson are all at less than 1%. Jordan Rapp only has an outside chance to qualify after his DNF in Texas (even a win in a P-2000 race would probably leave him just short) and Andrew Starykowicz seems to focus on Challenge Roth this year.
On the female side, Mirinda Carfrae is the clear favorite to defend her title. Rachel Joyce and Daniela Ryf (also starting in Frankfurt) are her strongest challengers.
These are followed by a couple of experienced athletes: Meredith Kessler, Caroline Steffen, Linsey Corbin (still looking to qualify after two DNSs in Regional Championships) and Leanda Cava would need a big step forward to a contend for a Kona win this year.
- Mirinda Carfrae: 41% (1-1)
- Rachel Joyce: 20% (4-1)
- Daniela Ryf: 12% (7-1)
- Meredith Kessler: 7% (13-1)
- Caroline Steffen: 5% (19-1)
- Linsey Corbin: 3% (36-1)
- Leanda Cave: 2% (46-1)
As always, there is a ton of athletes that could content for a Top5 or better. Among these, I would pick Jodie Swallow and Angela Naeth as serious podium contenders. But sometimes Kona rookies have a great first year and maybe Mel Hauschildt, Susie Cheetham or Annabel Luxford could also play a factor.