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 Ironman of Hawaii, considered the unofficial World Championship of the modality, whose thirty-fourth edition is held this Saturday in Kailua-Kona, in the north of the island, where both aspire improve their marks from last year.
Virginia Berasategui from Bilbao and Eneko Llanos from Vitoria are the Spanish assets in the great triathlon event of the year, the Ironman of Hawaii, considered the unofficial 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 marks from last year.
The toughest and most successful test of the triathlon will put the triathletes before a demanding route 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 resistance from the participants. .
Last year, Virginia Berasategui obtained fourth position, using 9 hours and 16 minutes on the route, 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 curriculum the victory in the first edition of the Bilbao Triathlon. Berasategui (Bilbao, 1975) is the Basque triathlete with the best track record, with a 17-year career in international competition since her first successes in the junior category, which has earned her this year the Bronze Medal for Sports Merit.
However, the woman from Bilbao does not arrive at her best moment due to the physical problems she has suffered throughout the season, so getting into the 'top ten' would be a success for her.
For his part, Eneko Llanos has just achieved victory for the second consecutive year in the ICAN of Mallorca, a victory to which this season he adds those achieved in the Ironman Texas and the first edition of ICAN Marbella, as well as second place in the Triathlon from Zarauz.
The man from Vitoria, who was second in the 2008 Ironman in Hawaii, arrives at a great moment, since he has prepared this season thinking only of the Kona event, 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 the long distance.
ALEXANDER AND WELLINGTON, BIG FAVORITES.
Among the great rivals that Eneko and Virginia will have to face, the names of recent years repeat themselves again, highlighting the absence of last year's winner, the Australian Chris McCormack, who has renounced the Kona appointment to prepare for the the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Also Australian Craig Alexander, winner of the 2009 and 2010 editions; and the British Chrissie Wellington, winner in 2007, 2008 and 2009 -in 2010 she did not compete-, head the list of favourites. But the list of contenders for the Kona podium is getting longer 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, in the first line of favorites are the current champion Mirina Carfrae, without 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.