A group of Australia’s leading triathletes are preparing to take on the best in the world at this weekend’s 2022 Intermountain Healthcare IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship presented by Utah Sports Commission in St. George, Utah.
Five Australian athletes have made their way to Utah to battle it out for World Championship glory across a 1.9km swim, 90km ride and 21.1km run, with the women’s race to take place on Friday and the men’s on Saturday.
Australian age groupers will be well-represented at the event with 245 joining more than 6,000 registered athletes from 104 countries, regions and territories.
Included in the Australian contingent is two-time Olympian Aaron Royle, and Ellie Salthouse, winner of more than a dozen IRONMAN 70.3 races around the world.
Royle, from Newcastle, recently made the move to middle-distance triathlon after representing Australia at the Tokyo 2020 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games and is looking forward to taking on the best in the sport at his first IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship.
“I’ve been in Boulder for the last five weeks, since racing in Dallas, preparing for St. George and had a really nice block with some specific work for St. George,” said Royle. “I’ve never actually been there but I know it’s an honest course with some hills, both on the bike and the run, so I’ve been preparing specifically for that, training has been going really well, really happy with how things have gone in the last five weeks, it’s my last race of the year before I get married so I’ve been really focused on this one.”
The 32-year-old is looking forward to taking on some of the biggest names in triathlon, including reigning IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion Gustav Iden and Tokyo 2020 gold medallist Kristian Blummenfelt, both from Norway.
“Obviously there’s a strong field, there always is when the Norwegians line up, I think they’re going to be the favourites, I’m also expecting a good showing from people like Sam Long, Freddy Funk, Magnus Ditlev, and maybe Simon Viain, a French guy that has come across from short-course racing this year, he’ll certainly be up there as well,” said Royle. “I started concentrating on middle-distance racing since June this year and I’ve obviously I’ve raced the Norwegians a lot in short-course racing, so I know a lot about them, I’m learning how the other guys race.
“Obviously I watch the sport, I’m a fan of the sport, all distances so I know these guys, and just having the chance to race them this year I’ve learnt a lot about myself and my competitors and ways to race and try and be on the front foot a little bit more than I was in some of the other races like Dallas when I was on the back foot a bit,” he said.
Royle is looking forward to the challenge of racing at his first IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship and is keen to put himself in the best position possible to secure a strong result.
“I’d love to be on the podium, I certainly have the capabilities, if the race goes well and if the race falls a certain way into my favour, I certainly have the strengths to put some pressure on early and hopefully when you’re out in front after the swim you can have a few options of how you want to approach the race from then on out,” he said.
Brisbane’s Ellie Salthouse is preparing for her fifth shot at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship title, with eighth in South Africa in 2018 her best result to date.
“I’m feeling fit and fast leading into the World Championships on Friday,” said Salthouse. “The training has been going really well and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to celebrate my hard work.”
Salthouse is no stranger to St. George, having spent the last few months there, and also racing at the 2021 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship there, where she finished 14th.
“I have loved training in St George for the last four months. I know the course like the back of my hand so couldn’t be more prepared for the race and the conditions,” she said. “The key challenges on the course are going to be the cold weather and the Snow Canyon hill climb on the bike. I’m feeling very prepared for this race. I know the course really well and have had a perfect training block leading in.”
The 29-year-old is keen to test herself against the likes of defending IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion Lucy Charles-Barclay and Tokyo 2020 gold medallist Flora Duffy.
“A World Championship course is always very strong, it is the best in the world after all, so I’m expecting nothing less on Friday,” said Salthouse. “There are standout athletes in each of the three disciplines, so it is going to be a fast race from the gun.”
Salthouse will be joined on the women’s start line on Friday by two other Australians, Dimity-Lee Duke and Stephanie Demestichas.
Duke heads to St. George following a tough day of racing at the recent VinFast IRONMAN World Championship in Hawai’i, where unfortunately she didn’t finish. She secured her position at this week’s race with a fifth place at IRONMAN 70.3 Luxembourg in June.
Demestichas will be making her IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship debut this week after qualifying for the race with her fourth at February’s IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong.
Queensland’s Jack Sosinski will race alongside Royle in Saturday’s men’s race, after Sosinski locked in his position in St. George after crossing the line sixth at this year’s IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong. This week’s World Championship is set to be just Sosinski’s fourth IRONMAN 70.3 race as a professional.
Tune into the two days of live race-day coverage of the 2022 Intermountain Healthcare IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship triathlon presented by Utah Sports Commission globally via Outside TV.
For more information about the 2022 Intermountain Healthcare IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship presented by Utah Sports Commission, please visit https://www.ironman.com/im703-world-championship