So it is race day morning in Kona, 1:30 A.M. Yes, you read it right 1:30, the race doesn't even start for another 5 hours, and I am up do to nerves. I swear The funny thing is i am not even racing!! Matt Lieto here, brother of Mr. Trifuel, and race day favorite Chris Lieto, checking in before the madness hits.
I have been here for about 10 days with my brother, getting ready for the big race. Chris and I came out early to get him some time on the island before "the zoo" arrived, and I came out to keep him honest on those last key workouts. I have also been getting in some good long workouts on the island in prep for my IM Florida in 3 weeks. It has been good to spend some time with Chris, as we haven't had a ton of time in the last year.
Enough with the uninteresting intro. Let's get down to it. This race is THE RACE for most people in triathlon, the Big Show, the Championship. The winners here are not flukes, they are the best in the world- Period. SWIM, BIKE, RUN. Unlike some "other" formats in triathlon, you can't pull this race out of nowhere by getting in the group on the bike and sitting in and running out of your mind. You have to do it on your own- no faking. Especially with the drafting rules back where they should be, you can count on the winner of this race being a force in the sport and an Icon for years to come.
Here it is - Picks
It is close enough to the race to tell you guys my picks for the day. As some of you know, I race triathlon as a professional, and consider a lot of these athletes friends, and hope to not offend anyone.
Men: Chris Lieto- 1st
Now you knew I was going to say that didn't you? No, really this kid is fast and fit, and mentally ready to win. I have been training with Chris for years, and never have I seen him as strong as he is now. He is crazy lean, and just strong as hell. The big surpise for the other guys today will be his run, he is seen as a guy who might have a lead on the bike and give up some time on the run. Not today, not anymore. We went on some "easy" runs this week, and I was like "dude, are you serious" slow the #&(^&@ down.
So- Chris will win.
2-5th in no particular order.
Macca- ya he will be there, gonna put in a good show, he definatley has the run to win, but only if he can get off the bike real, real, close to these strong cyclists.
Faris- Dude is nails, nails. Strong as an ox, in his own world, could care less what is going on around him. He is just solid in all 3- no weakness. The only guy i have seen on the run course who will go into a "hole", and bring himself out the other side running 6:30's. Tough guy,
Rutger- Amazing runner, I think he is one of the best runners lining up tomorrow, and if he swims with the front group, and can get in the lead bike pack, it could be big trouble. People consider him a "dark horse". Wake up people, he has a second, 2 fourths, and a fifth. Ya, real dark horse! Watch out for Rutger!! Super nice guy as well:)
Crowie- Craig Alexander. Crowie is the x- factor here. He has never raced here in Hawaii, but he has every bit of talent to make a hard push for top 5. I think he will have a hard time staying with the leaders on the bike, but if he stays close enough he could sneak in with a mid 2:40's run. Dude ran a 1:09 at Vineman, and was a man on a mission like I have never seen.
One more for good measure. Timo Bracht- real talent, can ride well, and run steady.
Women- again in no particular order. Sorry, don't want any stink eyes at the after parties!!
Michellie Jones. Defending Champ- Great athlete, fast swimmer, strong cyclist and a steady runner. She has it all to make it a repeat performance.
Natascha- She is just Natascha. Amazing cyclist, and one of the fastest runners in the sport. Saw her run a few times this week, and I expect her to out split a fair bit of the men's field on the run. She will do it all with a cheshire grin as well, such a happy lady!
Belinda Granger - She is one of the strongest cyclists in the sport, and is one tough cookie. If it is a tough day on the bike she will get in the mix with the big girls.
Leanda Cave- She is another x-factor. Never raced an Ironman before, so it will be tough, but I think she has the all around talent to be in the thick. If she likes this distance, she will win this race in the future.
The last 2 are friends of mine and definite dark horses, but if they have a day they will be right there.
Hillary Biscay- This girl is crazy, this will be her 8th IM this year, and she has 6 top tens so far this year, and last year she had 6 top 5's. She is one tough mama, and if the day is hard she will hold on the run and move to the front.
Linsey Corbin- I had the chance to train with Linsey this summer, and she is one of the purest runners I have run with, and expect her to run close to 3 hours. She has had a hip injury the last few days and hasn't run, but I think she will pull through. This girl will be the first sub 3 hour marathon in Kona- someday.
Well that is all I can come up with- no offense to anyone I left out, but it is 2 in the morning!!
Oh, and expect to see Luke McKenzie on the leader board for a while, good buddy, and is making deposits for a strong future at this race. Go Memphis!!