Everyone has their picks for this years race, so I'll throw my picks up as well. But first, let's run through some others. InsideTri has a list of the men's odds here and the women's here. They've got Stadler, Brown, and Al-Sultan with the best odds for the men's race and Badmann, Jones, and Bowden (yes, she's back) as their odds on favorites for the women.
Peter Reid talked with triathlete a few weeks back and gave them his picks and thoughts about those racing and their chances to win. A good read, Peter (clearly qualified) makes some good points. He favored Al-Sultan and McCormack, along with Badmann and Bowden.
I have to agree with Reid on most of his points. While Chris McCormack had a poor swim and bike last year, he looked the freshed and strongest coming through mile 22 on the run, like he was just out for a day's workout. If he comes out of the water with the main group and puts in a decent bike, he can run down anyone. Al-Sultan had a great bike last year, I don't think people will let him go this year, so top 5 yes, repeat no. Widoff is without question the toughest guy out there, his threshold for pain has to be higher than anyone I've ever seen race. I've seen him sprint down Alii and Wildflower with reckless abandon trying to move up just one position. He just doesn't quit. That said, not sure he's strong enough in any one descipline to give himself an edge. Cameron Brown looked really solid on the run last year as well, coming from behind and running himself into second. If he comes off the bike with the leaders he could push them to break on the run and cruise on in for the victory. Normann — no question an excellent cyclist who got a huge lead in 2004 and capitalized. However, he showed a lot of vulnerability out on the course last year and the mental game is just as critical as the physical, if things go wrong or he doesn't create a gap on the bike again, will he melt down and lose that mental element that keeps you pushing throughout the day? Lieto. While I'm somewhat biased, I also have insight to his training and psyche. No one questions his ability to throw down a record breaking split on the bike, but everyone questions his ability to put in a solid run. I believe he can and believe he'll open up enough of a gap during the ride to secure a win.
So my picks:
1. Chris Lieto (especially if it's windy)
2. Chris McCormack
3. Cameron Brown
4. Cameron Widoff
5. Faris Al-Sultan
It's hard to bet against Natasha. I've seen her buckled over on the side of the road throwing junks at mile 4, only to be all smiles and thumbs up by mile 20 and cruising to a comfortable victory. I'd love to see Lori come back and be victorious again, but she hasn't been racing that much this year so it'll be interesting to see where her fitness is. Michellie Jones was strong on the bike last year but then faded on the run, the weather was mild... little wind. Can she throw down a good bike in tougher conditions and hold off the running prowess of Badmann and perhaps a returning to form Bowden? Kate Major has performed well the last few years but she hasn't ever been close to Badmann. I think she's focused on the race and should have her best going. Beyond those, I think it's pretty wide open. Bentley is always a strong runner, so if she's close coming off the bike it'll make for a great marathon.
1. Natasha Badmann
2. Kate Major
3. Lori Bowden
4. Michellie Jones
5. Lisa Bentley
Well that's it. One thing I've learned from watching this race is that on any given day it can be anyone's race. Predictions are hard, but fun. Many elements play into what happens on the day, everyone hopes their perfect race falls within that 8-9 hours come Saturday.
Posted: October 18, 2006