Thursday, July 3, 2008

Get Ready For a Fast Day in Frankfurt

The anticipated three-way battle in Kona last year between Normann Stadler, Faris Al-Sultan and Chris McCormack didn't materialize thanks to a stomach bug that felled the two Germans, but Ironman fans will get to see the three face each other again at this weekend's Frankfurter Sparkasse Ironman European Championship ... and we can't wait!

As if a stellar men’s field wasn’t enough, Kurt Denk and his race crew here in Frankfurt have managed to put together an impressive women’s field that includes the defending women’s world champion, Chrissie Wellington. Wellington has won every Ironman she’s raced, but will have her work cut out for her as one of the two women who battled right to the line (literally, it came down to the last 50 m!) – Nicole Leder is back to try and keep the title in German hands again this year. The woman Leder beat to the line last year, Andrea Brede, has been forced to withdraw because of an injury.

What’s even scarier about the race this weekend is that as good as McCormack, Al-Sultan and Stadler are, they could race well on Sunday and not take the title. New Zealand’s Cameron Brown beat all the Germans here two years ago and is coming off yet another outstanding performance at Ironman New Zealand earlier this year. Timo Bracht set a course record in winning the 2007 race, so don’t expect him to simply sit back and watch the three favorites, either. Add to the crew Eneko and Hektor Llanos along with Germans Jan Raphael, Michael Gohner and Frank Vytrisal and you have the makings of one very competitive men’s race on Sunday.

Along with Leder and Brede, Wellington will take on 2006 German national champion Wenke Kujala, Imke Schiersch and Ina Reinders (Virginia Berasategui is a late withdrawel) – suffice it to say that the Kona champ won’t have the luxury of cruising to an easy win here in Frankfurt on Sunday.

Right now the conditions in Frankfurt are hot, with temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius (87 Fahrenheit), but the weatherman is calling for things to cool by Sunday, with temperatures expected in the mid-20s.

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