Anything can happen in a triathlon that spans 140.6 miles, but Ironman Coeur d’Alene defending champions Heather Wurtele and Ben Hoffman believe they’re in good form entering Sunday’s race.
Wurtele has won three half-Ironmans and placed in a fourth this season. The 34-year-old Canadian set the CdA women’s course record with a time of 9 hours, 16 minutes and 2 seconds last year.
“I’ve been having a great season so far,” Wurtele said. “My training has been going great. I’ve been having better, faster and longer (training) runs than I’ve had before.”
Hoffman, 30, won in a record time of 8:17.31 last year.
“I garner a lot of my positive energy for how I’m going to race through my training,” Hoffman said. “I start to look back through my training log the week of the race when I’m starting to taper and rest and you feel a little off because you’re not doing as much, but I know where I need to be.
“I feel like this year especially I’ve done similar or even better training than last year.”
The men’s race includes Viktor Zyemtsev, three-time Coeur d’Alene champ and last year’s runner-up, and Andy Potts, 2010 CdA champion and winner of the 2013 Ironman Lake Placid. Others to watch in the field of 15 male pros are Matt Russell, fourth in Coeur d’Alene last year, and Germany’s Maik Twelsiek.
“If Maik’s on form, I would guess he’d be leading off the bike,” Hoffman said. “It’s not as big a field as other Ironmans but it’s certainly a deep, quality field.”
Kelly Williamson, who took first in Ironman Texas on May 17, figures to be Wurtele’s primary challenger.
Williamson said she’s racing in two Ironmans in a six-week period because she wants to qualify for the world championships in Kona.
“We have a points system, it’s what you have to do,” Williamson said. “The last few miles in Texas it hit me when I took the lead and was so elated. And then I was like, ‘Oh crap, Kelly, you have to do this all again in six weeks.’
“But it’s OK. I’m happy to be here.”