The 2012 Ironman 70.3 Kansas triathlon might lack the overall star power of previous years, but a former champion is set to return for another crack at the Lawrence course.
Winner of the inaugural Ironman 70.3 Kansas, in 2008, New Zealand native and professional Terenzo Bozzone will be among the approximately 1,500 triathletes competing today on the course that begins with an early-morning swim (men’s professionals start at 6:30 a.m.) in Clinton Lake and includes treks through the surrounding countryside on both bike and foot.
At Bozzone’s most recent race, he finished fifth at Ironman 70.3 St. Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands on May 6. Prior to that, Bozzone took sixth at the St. Anthony’s Triathlon, in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Ryan Robinson, race director for Ironman 70.3 Kansas, expects the former champ will have a couple of triathletes fighting him for the 2012 title.
“We’re looking at a really good race,” Robinson said, “with Tom Lowe from Great Britain, Ben Hoffman from Boulder, Colo., and Terenzo Bozzone, from New Zealand.”
Earlier this year, Lowe finished third at Ironman 70.3 New Orleans. In Hoffman’s last time out, he won Ironman St. George, in Utah.
Other projected contenders include Australians Paul Ambrose and Clayton Fetell, as well as Hungary’s Jozef Major.
Followers of Ironman Kansas 70.3 won’t see today what has become the familiar finish in the women’s field. Three-time defending champion Chrissie Wellington won’t be back to defend her crown. In a press release from earlier this year, Wellington announced she would take a break from Ironman competitions in 2012 “to explore other opportunities.”
A native of Green Bay, Jessica Jacobs, winner of Ironman 70.3 Florida in May, could be the woman to beat in the professional ranks.
As for the hundreds of amateur triathletes competing today, Robinson said the most serious of them have a common goal in mind.
“They’re competing for qualification spots in the world championships,” he said.
That race is scheduled for Sept. 9 at Lake Las Vegas in Henderson, Nev.
This is the fifth year Clinton State Park has hosted the Kansas race, and Robinson said the course hasn’t changed in that time. The race begins in waves from 6:30-7:34 a.m. for the different divisions of triathletes, opening with a 1.2-mile swim in Clinton Lake, followed by a 56-mile bike ride and, finally, a 13.1-mile run.
Spectators arriving after 6:30 a.m. can take 1500 Road west from K-10 and turn south onto 700 Road to find parking, which is about a half-mile from the finish line.