The Bilbao woman Virginia Berasategui and the man from Vitoria Eneko Llanos are the Spanish assets in the great triathlon event of the year, the Hawaii Ironman, considered the informal World Championship of the modality, whose thirty-fourth edition is held this Saturday in Kailua-Kona, north of the island, where both aspire to improve on their marks from last year.
The Bilbao-born Virginia Berasategui and the Vitorian Eneko Llanos are the Spanish assets in the great triathlon event of the year, the Hawaiian Ironman, considered the informal World Championship of the modality, whose thirty-fourth edition is held this Saturday in Kailua-Kona, to the north of the island, where both aspire to improve their records from last year.
The toughest and most successful test of the triathlon will put the triathletes before a demanding course that consists of 3,8 kilometers of swimming, 180 kilometers on the bicycle and the 42 kilometers of a marathon, which requires extraordinary preparation and endurance from the participants .
Last year, Virginia Berasategui obtained the fourth position, using 9 hours and 16 minutes on the course, while Eneko Llanos finished seventh, with a time of 8 hours and 22 minutes.
Berasategui arrives in Hawaii - where he already rose to the medal table by achieving bronze in 2009 - after achieving tenth place in the Ironman European Championship, held in Frankfurt (Germany) in July, and fifth in the Wildflower Triathlon in San Antonio California (USA).
In addition, this year he has been able to add to his resume the victory in the first edition of the Bilbao Triathlon. Berasategui (Bilbao, 1975) is the Basque triathlete with the best record, with a 17-year career in international competition since her first successes in the junior category, which has earned her the Bronze Medal for Sporting Merit this year.
However, Bilbao is not at its best due to the physical problems that it has dragged throughout the season, so sneaking into the 'top ten' would be a success for her.
For his part, Eneko Llanos has just won for the second consecutive year the victory in the ICAN of Mallorca, a triumph to which this season he adds those achieved in the Ironman Texas and the first edition of the ICAN Marbella, as well as second place in the Triathlon of Zarauz.
The man from Vitoria, who was second in the 2008 Hawaiian Ironman, comes at a great moment, since he has prepared this season thinking only of the Kona appointment, reducing the number of tests in which he has participated this year.
The two Spanish triathletes will be part of the 84 professional athletes –51 men and 33 women– who will fight for victory in the great event of the year in long distance.
ALEXANDER AND WELLINGTON, BIG FAVORITES.
Among the great rivals that Eneko and Virginia will have to face again, the names of recent years are repeated, highlighting the absence of last year's winner, Australian Chris McCormack, who has resigned from the Kona appointment to prepare for the the 2012 London Olympics.
Also Australian Craig Alexander, winner of the 2009 and 2010 editions; and British Chrissie Wellington, winner in 2007, 2008 and 2009 - she did not compete in 2010 - head the list of favorites. But the list of contenders for the podium in Kona is growing each year.
Thus, in the men's category, Andreas Raelert and Marino Vanhoenacker stand out, second and third in 2010, respectively. Raynard Tissink, Timothy O'Donnel, Faris Al-Sultan, Chris Lieto, Rasmus Henning, Andy Potts and Matty Reed also aspire to be among the best.
In the women's category, on the front line of favorites are the current champion Mirina Carfrae, not forgetting Caroline Steffen - second in 2010 - Catriona Morrison and Samantha Warriner. In addition, other triathletes such as Julie Dibens, Leanda Cave, Karin Thuerig, Sofie Goos and Rachel Joyce will have to be taken into account.