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  • Karen Smyers and daughter, Jenna arriving at the pier. Karen is a definite favorite to win the women's overall title in '99 after a couple of years away from the Big Island. Experienced, down to earth, and can go beer for beer with any male pro in the sport!

    Another of the the contending professionals who have more to live for than their next workout, Kenny Glah and his daughter, Reannon (sp?) on their way to the pier. Kenny has got to be one of the most consistent performers of all time among athletes competing at this distance. He's doing what should be his 15th or 16th Hawaii and is coming off a win at Ironman Brazil in May of this year where he convincingly beat Chris Legh.

    MSSC alumnists, Dave and Sarah Fix, shed their Chicago fall clothing for a little island attire.

    He may be the publisher of Triathlete Magazine but in Kona he's just another obnoxious haole! John Duke tries to make friends at the pier.

    They're smiling now but let's see what they look like next Saturday morning at 6:45a.m. B&L Bike and Sport king, Whitney Lynn and the UCSD Masters Triathlon Club's own, Tyler Polan ham it up at Lava Java.


    If It's One Week 'til Kona, There Must Be One More Workout To Do

    Every athlete has their own final week's schedule but for many of the top professionals, Saturday, one-week to go, means a final "reality check" run out on the Queen K Highway. Typically, the run is between 7 and 10 miles and is run from town out to the end of the Natural Energy Lab or from the end of the NEL back to town. This section represents the most desolate and difficult stretch of the marathon on race day. Most athletes will run this section between 10am and 2pm to give themselves a "reality check". This run reminds one of just how difficult running a fast marathon is and how much they'll need to drink in order to work maximally. All of the preconceived notions of sub-3 hour this and two forty something that, evaporate in the lava fields.

    The pier this morning was a little busier with recent arrivals coming down for their initial Kona baptism. One of the best stories I heard this morning was from '95 women's champion and '99 favorite, Karen Smyers. As she arrived at the pier pushing her daughter, Jenna, in the stroller, Karen related a harrowing tale of just how hard it is to race at her level with kids. After a 5a.m. wake up on the East Coast, she, Jenna, and her husband, Mike King got on a flight in Boston. Changing planes in Dallas, Smyers remarked, "I didn't know the direct flight from Dallas to Honolulu was 8-hours!!! This is the first time Jenna's traveled and, as good as she was, it was something to keep her entertained that long. After arriving in Kona (6-hours of time change to the West), we collapsed at 8pm. Not bad, right? We'll get up at 6 or 7a.m. Wrong. Jenna decided to wake up at 3:30a.m. (hey, it's 9:30a.m. in Boston)! Poor Mike sacrificed himself for me and drove her around for two hours so that I could sleep. I woke up at 6a.m. when he got home and brought her down to the pier for a little swim." Yikes!!! You've got to take your hat off to all of the parents who are racing in the '99 Ironman!

    More to come . . .
    So, Who's Going to Win?
  • Got training/racing questions?
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  • Hey, who's the aid station volunteer? You're eyes aren't deceiving you, that's Paula Newby-Fraser handing Jimmy Riccitello a bottle during his training run out to the Natural Energy Lab . . . talk about service!

    He'll tell you he's not the prettiest runner (agreed) but Jim Riccitello has been known to put in a long training day or two. Looking to overcome the demons of '87 when he dnf-ed on the bike, Jimmy has been training well enough to get himself into the top 20 (dare we jinx him and say the top 10?).

    Talk about a lethal training combination! Kenny Glah and Chris Legh hooked up in Boulder six weeks ago and have been training with one another when the opportunity presented since. Both are looking fantastic and are easily contenders for the 5 after it all shakes out on Saturday.

    Barely visible in the image, Lori Bowden and Heather Fuhr did one of their final training runs together. It's frightening to think of these two combining their abilities for October 23rd. Next thing you know we'll all be drinking Molson!

    Ironman rookie, Maryellen Powers is all smiles as she heads out on the Queen K highway. A fantastic swimmer and very strong cyclist, you may see her at the front for most (if not all) of the day.


    So, Who's Going to Win?

    Ok, ok, enough fluff! I'm getting the usual criticism and heckling for not giving enough Kona gossip and insight so here goes.

    We're still 6 days from the race but already you can see some athletes coming to the forefront. Keep in mind the caliber of a field we're dealing with (no I don't have the official start list in front of me). On the women's side there are names like: Heather Fuhr, Lori Bowden, Wendy Ingraham, Sian Welch, Karen Smyers, Fernanda Keller, Joanna Zeiger, Maryellen Powers, Susan Nielsen, Katja Schumaker, Joanne King, Andrea Fisher, Isabelle Gagnon, and a bunch of others I'll get hammered for not mentioning. The men's field is equally strong with Peter Reid, Thomas Helreigel, Luc Van Lierde, Lothar Leder, Tim Deboom, Chris Legh, Kenny Glah, Rainer Mueller, Cameron Widoff, Matt Bellfield, Jimmy Riccitello, Olivier Bernhard, Greg Welch, Frank Heldoorn, Chucky V., Christophe Mauch, Andreas Neidrig, Mathias Klump, the ubiquitous Scott Tinley and at least another twenty who should be mentioned but I can't remember right now.

    Earlier this year, Peter Reid was rumored to be having back problems (Jurgen Zack pulled out with a bulging or herniated disk) but from what anyone who's seen him in action is saying, there are no problems apparent. He has to be the favorite. There are a lot of guys who want the top spot on the podium and the challengers are many. You have to mention Thomas Helreigel, Luc Van Lierde and Greg Welch in the same breath because ALL of them have won the race in this decade. Experience and knowing how to win in Hawaii are big assets and each of these guys has proven they know how to do it. Among those three, Helreigel looks to have the advantage. Both Van Lierde and Welch have been focusing their '99 seasons on Olympic distance racing and theoretically don't have the cycling miles in their legs that the German does. Helriegel also looked awfully good at Lake Placid and wasn't pushed! That said, both Luc and Welchy are extremely talented pure runners (we're talking FAST!). So who comes after these guys? Just about any of the rest. Christophe Mauch (sp?) just won the Nice Triathlon (just like Luc did back in '97 when he won). Luc would comment that the time, however, was 10 minutes slower than what he did in '97. Among the Americans, I like Kenny Glah (we're talking EXPERIENCE and he's having a great year). Deboom should have learned a lot from Peter Reid in '98. He was the training partner of the guy who won and, at times, was stronger. Cameron Widoff looks focused and strong and, like about 20 other guys, is due. I'll bet he'd give up all of those Wildflower victories (and his dreadlocks) for a win in Kona.

    Tinley just (in the past five minutes) stopped by and said Helreigel looks "too skinny again". ST related a quick description of his run this evening. "I'm heading out for my run hitting 8 minute miles, feeling like crap, when I see Dave (Scott) riding about 15mph in the opposite direction. He looked about how I felt. Dave swings around and we start comiserating about life and how things pretty much suck. All of the sudden we both simultaneously see the forms of Greg Welch and Thomas Helreigel running towards us. As they come by clipping off 5:50 to 6:00 / mile, I immediately look at Dave and tell him I've got to go. I run across Alii Dr. and catch up to them and am thinking, 'yeah, I could take these two'. Dave swings his bike around, catches up and begins talking to Thomas. Soon I'm laughing with Welchy and I'm thinking, 'wow, that all changed pretty quickly!' There we were, two old men and now, here we are 4 past winners running together. It was wierd."

    What about the women. If you look at past winners then Karen Smyers and Heather Fuhr are at the top of the list. If you look at recent history, you have to include Lori Bowden with those two. I think these three with form the race at the end of the day BUT that doesn't mean Joanna Zeiger isn't going to go off the front with the likes of Wendy Ingraham, Maryellen Powers, Sian Welch, Andrea Fisher, and Ute Muekel in tow. And what about Joanne King. The rookie Australian is said to be in devastating condition but her bike leg is suspect in the brutal Hawaii winds (or so some say). Fernanda Keller has proven time and time again that she will always be a factor and this time looks no different.

    So who's going to win? Only Madam Pele knows. Everyone gives me crap for not putting it on the line so I'm going to give you two lists. One tonight and one on the day before the race. Tonight I'll list my "best on paper list". I don't feel like you get a good sense until you've seen everyone in the week prior to the event.


    1. Chris Legh
    2. Peter Reid
    3. Luc Van Lierde
    4. Thomas Helreigel
    5. Christophe Mauch
    6. Greg Welch
    7. Rainer Mueller
    8. Tim Deboom
    9. Kenny Glah
    10. Lothar Leder


    1. Lori Bowden
    2. Karen Smyers
    3. Heather Fuhr
    4. Wendy Ingraham
    5. Joanna Zeiger
    6. Melissa Spooner
    7. Fernanda Keller
    8. Maryellen Powers
    9. Susan Nielsen
    10. Sian Welch

    By Friday this will have changed (and on Saturday it will have changed again).

    More to come . . .