With the strongest line-up of pro athletes ever seen at a triathlon, we didn’t envy whoever had to pick names for the pre-race press conference line-up. To give you some idea of the calibre of elite rolling into the desert for the inaugural Challenge Bahrain this coming Saturday, silver medallist Lisa Norden was absent, as was former ITU world champ and fast-rising 70.3 star Tim Don and bronze medallist Jan Frodeno (although the Beijing Games gold medallist has pulled out of the race due to illness).
Taking to the elevated podia then was the following roll call of multisporting greats: 2013 Roth champion Dirk Bockel; 2 x ITU LD world champ Caroline Steffen; three-time Kona winner Mirinda Carfrae; 2014 Kona bronze medallist Rachel Joyce; Commonwealth gold medallist Jodie Stimpson; reigning IM world champ Sebastian Kienle; 2012 Kona winner Pete Jacobs; and two-time 70.3 world champion Michael Raelert.
Here’s what a few of the ladies had to say ahead of this unique and history-making event…
“I’d be lying if I said I was in great shape for this event. After Kona, there’s always a whirlwind of activity, but I like to take every opportunity that’s given to me, which has meant a lot of travel, some holiday, some work. But I think it’s important to celebrate victories when they come. So what I’m saying is that I’m not in the best shape possible for this race. I think I’m going to get beaten pretty soundly on the weekend but I’m okay with that. I’m happy with my year, and I’ll go out there and do my best but I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be anywhere near enough for this one. Top 10 would be amazing”
“I’m not really know for my pacing in Olympic distance so this is going to be a challenge as it is. But I’ve been training with [Olympic silver medallist] Lisa Norden, who I’m lucky has done a few. But to be honest, after the Commonwealths, which was my first champs, I was quite drained. But it’s nice to have this challenge, and just getting back into training. I don’t think these girls are going to do the bike slowly, they won’t take it easy for me, I’ll just be waiting to get to the run leg. It’s been great to share a hotel with these idols, and I’ve got nothing but respect for them. I’m just excited to be on the start line with them.”
“It’s going to be a super fast day and that’s kept me motivated since Kona. I’ve kinda had fun, some time-trials, joining a different swim group in Perth. I’m excited to see the mix of athletes and I think that’s going to impact on the race dynamic. But no one knows what’s going to happen. I’m just looking forward to throwing my hat in the ring, going for broke. It’s going to be a boom or bust strategy, I think!”
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“Mirinda says she’s not in good shape, but sorry, I don’t believe her! I think we’re going to see some surprises on Saturday.”
The race gets underway at 7.30am local time (4.30am UK time) on Saturday 6 December, and a live online feed will be broadcast on race day at www.challenge-bahrain.com.bh. We’ll be hosting a liveblog from 7am local time right here on the 220 Triathlon website, and there will also be regular updates on our Twitter account.