The professional triathletes are raring to go as countdown to the start of the 2012 Ironman WA in Busselton moves within two days.
A record field of more than 1700 intrastate, interstate and international competitors will test themselves on the challenging 3.8km swim around the Busselton Jetty, 180km bike ride through the Tuart Forest National Park and a 42.2km run along Geographe Bay.
Seven athletes sat on a panel this morning to preview their form and expectations leading into the race.
German Timo Bracht, last year’s winner, will tackle his 29th Ironman on Sunday and said he had returned home during the winter for family time, mountain biking and light training including gymnastics to be ready for a shot at defending the title.
While conceding it was always tough to be as good as the previous year, he was aiming for a solid race and had enjoyed being in town this week where he could “settle down and relax” away from the busy pace of Europe.
Favoured to be the first female to cross the line, Australian Rebekah Keat said she had overcome some back sciatica which saw the Hawaii event not go to plan and could not say no to a return to Busselton.
“There are no tricks to this course, you just have to grind your teeth, stay on your bike, be confident, eat, drink and hope that everything else goes well.”
First-time Ironman WA competitor Britta Martin, from New Zealand, said she had struggled in choppy conditions during a training swim this morning but was excited after hearing the course was “hot and fast” and particularly looking forward to the run leg.
American Bree Wee, who won the 2012 Ironman Louisville, described the vibe in WA as “full of life” which was a good follow up to her previous Australian experience in Noosa.
As a regular top finisher, Australian Matty White could not hide his desire for the win having “had too many seconds here” but said anything can happen and the support kept him coming back for the event and Busselton 70.3.
“I have got to know the crowd, the characters and the atmosphere is fantastic. It is what you need in an Ironman race,” he said.
Veteran of 70 Ironman’s and third last year, Jason Shortis said he felt the locals had adopted him and he was valuing every experience heading into a probable final race in 2013.
“I really love this sport, it has given me a lot of life experience and has taught me a lot about myself and the world I live in,” he said.Ironman WA is on Sunday from 5.30am and will be broadcast on Network Ten, with a highlights program also shown in more than 200 countries.