Ironman Louisville Week – Women’s Field

Yesterday I took a look at the professional men that will be racing here in The ‘Ville on Sunday. Today I’ll give a quick overview of the pro women’s field.
As of today, there are 14 Pro Women racing. Seven of these ladies have experience with this race, including 2009 winner Nina Kraft (pictured to the right). She also came in 2nd in 2007, and has several other wins at both full IM and half IM races over the years. The German athelete is unfortunately most known for having the 2004 Ironman World Championship title stripped from her after testing positive for and admitting to using the drug erythropoietin (EPO). She was banned from IM racing for two years following this ugly incident. But this was 7 years ago and to her credit, Nina has never turned her back on this portion of her career and after serving her suspension, came back and showed that she didn’t need the drugs to be one of the top athlete’s in the sport. After a DNF here last year, I’m sure Kraft is ready to reclaim the title. It’s not going to be easy, she has some tough competition.
The athlete with the most experience on the IMLOU course is Canadian Marie Danais. She came in 6th in ’08, 10th in ’09 and 8th last year. She finished in the top 10 at IM Lake Placid earlier this year and with her experience her, I’d say that she’s in line for a podium finish.
Another pro that I think is a contender is Kelzie Beebe. This American is putting together a great 2011 season with a top 10 Ironman and a few top 10 finishes in 70.3 races. She finished 5th here last year and looks like she’s primed to make a run for the title this year.
The athlete that probably has the most motivation to win is Jacqui Gordon (pictured to the left). She is very close to qualifying for the IM World Championships in Kona and a win here would solidify her spot. She’s coming off of a 5th place finish at IM Lake Placid, a 6th place at IM 70.3 Steelhead and has experience here in Louisville – coming in 7th in 2008. She’s still chasing that title of Ironman Champion and I think Sunday could be the day for the triathlete based in New Jersey.
Other women that have finished here before include Terra Castro from Texas (10th in ’10), Maki Nishiuchi of Japan (7th in ’09, DNF in ’10) and Californian Jocelyn Wong (6th in ’10). Of this group, I’d say that Maki is having the best season and could be a factor this weekend. As I mentioned yesterday, I’m no expert and lots can happen on race day, so I won’t be shocked no matter who breaks the tape!

UPDATE: I just found out that Jacqui Gordon had a bike crash over the weekend and broke her clavicle…so needless to say, she will not be racing this weekend! Really sucks for her, not only will she miss IMLOU, but now racing in Kona for the World Championships is out of reach. With this recent development, I’m going to put all my chips on Kelzie Beebe.

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