Chris McCormack

Ironman Kona Predictions 2007 ……. yes, 2007

I’ve recently been tidying up around home and found some old magazines, which included both the November 2007 issues of Triathlete Magazine and Inside Triathlon (both of which are now owned by Outside Magazine group). With both these issues having the date November 2007, I assume they were published in October hitting the newsstands in October prior to Ironman actually happening.

In both these issues they made predictions as to who would win and comments about how the race would/could unfold.

Let’s start first with Inside Triathlon, they had results of a readers poll.

Fifty seven percent of Inside Tri’s reader’s predicted Chris McCormack will win the men’s race at Kona, with 32% of reader’s believing Michellie Jones would win the women’s race. 20% of reader’s believed ‘Stormin’ Normann Stadler would finish the bike with no lead. 49% predicted that Natascha Badmann would have the fastest bike split.

79% thought Desirée Ficker will be be the top finishing US woman. However only 46% of readers thought Chris Lieto will be the top finishing US man.

Tim Carlson wrote a piece summing up the chances of all the big players that year. In the woman he discussed the likelihood of Desirée Ficker, Kate Major, Samantha McGlone, Michellie Jones and Natascha Badmann. In the men’s field he wrote about Eneko Llanos, Rutger Beke, Cameron Brown, Tim Deboom, Craig Alexander, Faris Al-Sultan, Chris McCormack and Normann Stadler.

Over at Triathlete Magazine TJ Murphy wrote about the main players placing Michellie Jones, Natascha Badmann, Desirée Ficker and Lisa Bentley as favourites. Going on to list Samantha McGlone as a long shot, but adding a footnote about Kate Major (as well as Gina Kehr who had withdrawn after falling pregnant). In the men’s field he listed the favourites as Normann Stadler, Chris McCormack, Faris Al-Sultan and Rutger Beke with Craig Alexander as a long shot. As done with the woman’s field footnotes about Maino Vanhoenacker, Eneko Llanos and Patrick Vernay were also added.

A number of industry players (with connections to Triathlete Magazine) made their predictions on who would win the respective mens and woman’s races. This panel included Triathlete‘s Publisher – John Duke; TJ Murphy – Triathlete‘s Editor-in-Chief; Cameron Elford – Triathlete‘s Managing Editor; Jay Prasuhn – Triathlete‘s Senior Editor; Rebecca Roozen – Triathlete‘s Assistance Managing Editor [how many editors does this magazine have?]; Shane Smith – Triathlete‘s International Editor [at least one more]; Mark Allen [if you don’t know his credentials to make Kona predictions google him]; Amy White – Australian Triathlete Editor; Betsy Delcour – Editor Xtri.com [a great online source of triathlon news back then]; and, Delly Carr – Triathlete contributing photographer.

Six out of the ten people predicted predicted Chris McCormack would win the men’s race (well sort of, Mark Allen hedged his bet by also picking Faris Al-Sultan especially if conditions are hot). Faris got two picks (if we count Mark Allen’s) and so did Craig Alexander, with Luke Bell getting picked by Shane Smith.

In the woman’s race 50% of them predicted Michellie Jones for the win, with three picking Natascha Badmann, with one each for Sam McGlone and Joanna Lawn (Shane Smith going out on a limb again).

So of all these predictions how did everyone fare?

Women’s race:

Natascha Badmann

DNF 1:03 Swim

Predicted by plenty (including Mark Allen) to win the women’s event, October the 13th wasn’t to be her day either. 49% of Inside Triathlon readers picked her to have the fastest woman’s bike split.

Crashed on the bike, causing her to withdraw with fractured collar bone.

Michellie Jones

Ironman World Champs

DNF 0:55 Swim

Predicted by nearly everyone to win the women’s event, October the 13th wasn’t to be her day. 27% of Inside Triathlon readers picked her to have the fastest woman’s bike split.

Started despite having a perforated ear drum after being kicked in a swim a few weeks prior, withdrawing with 10 miles left to go on the bike.

Joanna Zeiger

41st 10:56 (0:52 Swim, 5:28 Bike, 4:29 Run)

14% of Inside Triathlon’s readers predicted her to be the top American female finisher – she was 2nd. Due to being ill, she didn’t have the race that was expected from her. She pushed on despite the challenges she faced.

Desirée Ficker

40th 10:41 (1:01 Swim, 5:15 Bike, 4:20 Run)

Listed by TJ Murphy as a favourite and also listed by Timothy Carlson. 14% of Inside Triathlon readers picked her to have the fastest woman’s bike split – she was 10th, eight minutes down. 79% of reader’s also picked her to be the top American female finisher but due to her run she was a long way down.

Lisa Bentley

15th 9:52 (1:00 Swim, 5:23 Bike, 3:24 Run)

Listed by TJ Murphy as a favourite despite spending most of 2007 on the sidelines due to injury.

Heather Gollnick

11th 9:41 (0:58 Swim, 5:22 Bike, 3:16 Run)

14% of Inside Triathlon’s readers predicted her to be the top American female finisher – she was 2nd.

Belinda Granger

9th 9:38 (0:58 Swim, 5:10 Bike, 3:24 Run)

6% of Inside Triathlon’s readers predicted her to have the fastest woman’s bike split – she was 4th, four minutes down

Joanna Lawn

4th 9:26 (0:58 Swim, 5:10 Bike, 3:14 Run)

Tipped by Shane Smith for the win with the comment “I think this year there is a great chance for someone to slip under the radar and surprise Jones and Badmann, and Kiwi Jo Lawn has all the ingredients to be the chosen one.

Kate Major

3rd 9:19 (0:58 Swim, 5:10 Bike, 3:07 Run)

Kate got a mention by TJ Murphy due to her 3rd place in 2005 and 6th in 2006, as well as her 2nd place at Timberman 70.3.

Samantha McGlone

2nd 9:14 (0:58 Swim, 5:11 Bike, 3:01 Run)

Despite being an Ironman rookie Sam was listed as a long shot by TJ Murphy and listed as a contender by Timothy Carlson. 8% of Inside Triathlon’s readers picking her for a win.

Men’s race:

Faris Al-Sultan

DNS

Listed as a favourite and predicted by a few (including Mark Allen hedging his bets) to win.

Faris was ill and did not race.

Normann Stadler

DNF 0:53 Swim

Listed as a favourite by both TJ Murphy and Timothy Carlson.

Struggled to hold down fluid on the bike, withdrawing 55 miles into the bike.

Cameron Brown

DNF 0:53 Swim

Listed as a contender by Timothy Carlson with the comment “Perhaps more than anyone else Cameron Brown has been consistent at Ironman Hawaii, with two second-place finishes and tow thirds to his credit.

Like many of the top pro’s Cameron Brown withdraw to stomach issues.

Luke Bell

DNF 0:52 Swim

Tipped by Shane Smith for the win with the comment “…reminds me of when Dave Scott used to race solidly for most of the year but then performed brilliantly in Kona.

Rutger Beke

66th 11:14 (0:58 Swim, 4:36 Bike, 5:35 Run)

Listed as a favourite by both TJ Murphy and Timothy Carlson.

Displayed competitors pride in order to finish despite being forced to walk the run.

Finishing last in the Pro Men’s category he finished 898th place over all!! “It’s not respectful to the age groupers to quit when it’s not going your way.

Patrick Vernay

10th 8:35 (0:53 Swim, 4:49 Bike, 2:48 Run)
Added to TJ Murphy’s article under Pre-Race Notes due to his 8:35 at Ironman Australia.

Michael Lovato

9th 8:33 (0:52 Swim, 4:28 Bike, 2:54 Run)

19% of Inside Triathlon’s readers predicted him to be the top American male finisher – he was 3rd.

Eneko Llanos

7th 8:23 (0:52 Swim, 4:38 Bike, 2:52 Run)
Added to TJ Murphy’s article under Pre-Race Notes due to his 5th place finish in 2006 and his Ironman Lanzerote win.

Chris Lieto

6th 8:26 (0:52 Swim, 4:28 Bike, 3:00 Run)

46% of Inside Triathlon’s readers predicted him to be the top American male finisher – he was 2nd.

Marino Vanhoenaker

5th 8:23 (0:53 Swim, 4:33 Bike, 2:53 Run)
Added to TJ Murphy’s article under Pre-Race Notes due to his 6th place finish in 2006 and his 8:07 win at Ironman Austria.

Tim Deboom

4th 8:23 (0:52 Swim, 4:38 Bike, 2:48 Run)

Listed as a contender by Timothy Carlson due to his history with two previous wins (in 2001 & 2002). 33% of Inside Triathlon’s readers correctly predicted him to be the top American male finisher.

Craig Alexander

2nd 8:19 (0:52 Swim, 4:38 Bike, 2:45 Run)

Listed as a long shot by TJ Murphy in the article and listed as a contender by Timothy Carlson. When it came down to putting one name down for their prediction both TJ Murphy and Rebecca Roozen thought he would win.

Chris McCormack

1st 8:16 (0:52 Swim, 4:38 Bike, 2:42 Run)

Listed as a favourite and predicted by a few (including Mark Allen hedging his bets) to win.

What Wasn’t Predicted

Stomach Bug

With a number of top pro’s either failing to start, needing to withdraw or battling on despite stomach problems:

  • Normann Stadler
  • Faris AL-Sultan
  • Cameron Brown
  • Thomas Hellriegel
  • Desirée Ficker
  • Lisa Bentley

Tim Deboom talking about Normann Stadler said “He sped by us, pulled over, and threw up“.

5th to 9th Females

Rebecca Preston (11th in 2005 and had won Ironman Switzerland 2007), Rebekah Keat (won Ironman Australia 2007), Dede Griesbauer (2nd Ironman Brazil 2007) and Leanda Cave (won ITU Long Course World Champs 2007) finished fifth through to ninth (respectively), were all missing from this pre-race media despite their credentials.

Dede Griesbauer was the first American female to finish. 1% of Inside Triathlon’s readers correctly predicted another female (other than Desirée Ficker, Heather Gollnick or Joanna Zeiger).

Luc Van Lierde

A two-time previous champion (1996 & 1999) it would have been easy to dismiss him, but he had finished second at Ironman Lanzerote. Luc finished ninth and was the only top 10 male not mentioned in the pre-race articles.

Chrissie Wellington

1st 9:09 (0:58 Swim, 5:06 Bike, 3:00 Run)

Not discussed as a pre-race favourite Chrissie Wellington came from no where to win. She had raced as an age grouper in 2006 before turning pro. Chrissie didn’t hit the Top 10 until less than 40 miles (64km) left to go on the bike. With 25 miles (40km) left, she was up into third place. By T2 she was in the lead which she held during the run.

Post-Script

In an earlier edition of Triathlete their editors put together their picks of top future athletes in The Future is NOW from the October 2005 issue. In this issue they picked who they thought would be dominating the next generation of triathlon stars. For Long Course they chose:

  • Desirée Ficker due to her 2nd place finishes at both Ironman Arizona 2005 and at Ralphs Half Ironman 2005. Having won three consecutive PowerMan Alabamas, combined with her 56-minute swim at Ironman Arizona….demonstrated that she has potential to grow into a first-rate long-distance triathlete.
  • Luke Bell due to his 5th place at Hawaii Ironman 2004, 2nd place Australian Ironman 2005. They further stated that Bell is a strong all-arounder who reminded them in many ways of Peter Reid.
  • Samantha McGlone due to her 1st place finishes at both Ralphs Half Ironman 2005 and at Wildflower Long Course 2005; as well as being Canada’s highest place finisher at the Olympics in 2004.
  • Faris Al-Sultan due to his sub-8 hour, 2nd place finish at Challenge Roth 2004; 3rd place finish at Hawaii Ironman the same year and his victory at Ironman Arizona 2005.
  • Kate Major due to her victories at Ironman Arizona 2005 and Ironman Lake Placid 2004, as well as her 3rd place finish at Hawaii Ironman 2004.

Two years later they were all either predicted to be or where key players in the 2007 World Championships.

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