Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ironman Melbourne 2014 Age Group Tips

SO, here they are:

No doubt will upset a few ;)

 Ironman Melbourne 2014 Age Group Tips

This year is the 3rd year for Ironman Melbourne and by going through the list of athletes, I have found that there once again are a lot of first timers. Sure there are athletes like myself & many others coming back for a third crack at this race, however the numbers of “newbies” is rather high. I also know this from the athletes I coach at TEAM Tri Coaching.

With near 30 athletes in total racing and with no less then 10 athletes having their first crack at Ironman, this in indicative of the field. In saying, the strength of the field is still there with many athletes already hit the magical sub 9 including Sam Hume, Ollie Allan & Myself in the 35 – 39 age group.

Throw in many other fast age groupers, no doubt there will be many age group battles for top step and Hawaiian Ironman World Championship Qualifying spots.

Below you will find my age group predictions age group by age group separated in male and female categories. This information is collated by research and memory that I have over the last 5-6 years of racing. I aim to pick the podium winners in each category, so if you are not mentioned, however still achieve your goal, it is an amazing achievement.

There is also some banter below and is more fun then serious, so most of the comments are light hearted and not serious..

 Here goes:

Male 18 -24 I think this age group is a two horse race with last years winner and a Kona qualifier as the two standouts. Sam Dwyer is my pick to go back to back, however Sam Beveridge will push Dwyer a long way. If Beveridge has his trade mark mo, this could hold him back.

Female 18-24 Straight up, a very open age group in my opinion. No real standouts (however have been proven wrong many times before). I have adopted the eenie meenie miny mo theory and have gone with Emma Pearce.

Male 25-29 This is where some exposed form starts to come into play. There are a few to pick from as some have strengths in 1 discipline, however to get on the podium, you need to be strong in all three.

The two main contenders in my view are: Levi Maxwell, comes from the experienced Bart Cummings stable (EnduranceTeam.net) and has a few runs on the board. Levi’s main threat will come from: Michael Harvey, fresh from the TEAM Tri Coaching camp. Michael has already achieved his Kona Qualifying goal at Japan IM where he won his a/g by 15min and finished 18th overall.

These two should have a great battle and will be interesting to see who has the patience to takes the chocolates.

Others to watch: Al Tubb, Alistair can swim/ride like the best of them in this age group and would not surprise me if he leads into T2, however the run is where it is at. Bike for show, run for dough as they cliché goes.

Not to be forgotten is Simon Anderson, Simon finished 7th last year and no doubt wants to improve on his performance

Female 25-29 With a small field of women in this age group, there could be many contenders for the podium. Hanna Whiteside has been building for this race and has shown some good recent form. Will Hanna be able to follow in previous WITSUP ambassador Kacey Willoughby and get the chocolates or will the others be able to enjoy them first. With so many unknowns in this age group, I will go with Victoria Cunliffe, Claire Davis from Singapore & Teagan Nugent to all be around the money at the 42.2k mark of the marathon.

Male 30-34 Some days I am happy to aged out of this category, however I can say… NEVER gets easier, you just get older…

And the times don’t ease off either. There are some really fast guys in this age group and as per 25-29, some specialists in there discipline, so this age group will not be over until the line is crossed.
Brad Manczak, Mark Zanker & Angus McGilvray have been to the Big Island before and know what it takes.

I am sure Angus also qualified at Japan, so unsure if racing. Brad (being a BIG man like myself) will be hoping for a tough bike day and favorable winds for the run.

Matt Ledger, who is fresh off a 4.39 ride at IMWA will be hoping that he can run on two feet and get a good distance in front into T2.

I pick him to hit the run with no less than a 5min lead and someone that I will be looking for again on the ride to assist me trying to do the same.

Simon Bevege is the fastest runner in this age group, however being his first Ironman, is heading into the unknown, especially the back half of the race. If Simon is patient he could see himself run onto a podium position form 38k onwards. Athletes that can be patient on the run, can give a good head start and still get the result they are chasing.

The biggest outsider here is Ex_AFL footballer Steven Greene. What I have observed in recent times is elite athletes are elite athletes no matter what sport they are playing. Steven will know what shape he needs to be in and no doubt will be having a good crack at upsetting the above favorites.

Female 30-34 This is the premier age group in my opinion for Ironman Melbourne in 2014. Not a big field (55) however some top quality athletes who will not only be vying for the age group title, but also fastest amateur. This is a race in 3 I believe, however there will be many others close behind waiting for one of the top 3 to falter.

Kacey Willoughby, Elizabeth Dornam & Eimear O’Brien are my top 3.

 The Dornam’s sisters have no doubt pre selected their races so they don’t clash with Bernadette racing IMNZ. Kacey Willoughby is fresh off her first Hawiian Ironman and I know that she is keen to head make for more Ali’I Dve action.

Eimear O’Brien is a bit unknown, however I have swam with her and seeing some of her results, I know Michael Pratt will have her peaking for this race like he does with all his athletes.

There are many others to choose from also, so there could in fact be only a few minutes separating the top 5-7. Will be a great age group to follow.

Male 35-39 My age group. The best thing that has happened in this age group is that Damien Angus has aged up. This doesn’t make it any easier for anyone else though. As I stated in my opening there will be 3 of us who have gone under the magic 9hr mark on this course. My Pick still remains Sam Hume. Sam is the People’s Age Grouper.

Always consistent and always hard to beat. Both Ollie Allan & myself are very few who have been able to accomplish this. The way to get Sam’s measure in my view is to minimize your loss in the water and put time into him on the bike… Sounds easy right?

Well, no it isn’t. Sam is a 50min swimming, a 4.50 biker and a 3hr runner. A 8hr 39min at IMWA a few years back proves this. I am sure Sam is keen to take the win this year after missing out the last few years.

As mentioned Ollie Allan can never be overlooked, probably not in the shape of 2012, but knows how to get the job done.

Others to watch are: Travis Atkins, however Travis qualified in IMWA, so unsure if racing. Brad Campbell, can swim also, so expect him to be in lead age group on the bike and the big test is the running k’s. So unknown for so many.

A Dark horse here: Dale Smedley. I coach Dale and he is moving well. After a disastrous 1st IM last year, I have worked closely with Dale to overcome for this year. Will be in Top 3 off the bike.

As for myself, I have been busy working with my athletes to best prepare them for this and other events. I will be having a hard hit out & hoping to secure myself another Hawaii spot, however I doubt I will be challenging the heavy hitters this year. With 365 athletes in this age group, never discount a newbie, like last year when Barry Lynch got us all by surprise with his 2.52 marathon.

Female 35-39 Like the Female 30-34 age group, this age group will be toughly contested. I don’t think it has the depth of the younger age group, however the girls here will be keen to battle for fastest a/ger. Catherine Thiele is my pick, in the same training paddock as Kacey Willoughby and will look to take the honors.

Tarryn Whitmore will be around the mark as the lure of a 2nd Hawaii is dangling like a carrot in front of her. The 2 above girls would want to be sure to have a good lead into T2 and have their skates on as Nicole Hart will be sure to be running them down.

Nicole is a runner and can come from a long way back to surprise the girls late in the race. So this age group will be another great battle to the line.

Male 40-44 The premier age group for fastest amateur honors. 3 way race and one I would pay money to watch. The evergreen David Meade will be going head to head with last years winner and fastest amateur Olaf Kasten & Damien Angus.

Each have different strengths, however at the end of the day they all are supreme athletes. For Angus to win, he needs a solid lead off the bike as the other two are better runners. Although Angus had a super fast Challenge Melbourne, this will be a tough tough ask. All three should break the 9hr mark and would not surprise me if the 8.45 mark is pushed to win this age group.

Female 40-44 Another tough female age group. Standout for me is Sam (Simone) Boag from SA. Has form at the moment and talk from across the border is that anything less than a win is a fail. So look for Sam to have a solid race.

Georgie Camakaris (TEAM Tri Coaching) enters this race uninjured and needs to use her trademark swim to advantage to be able to push Sam.

Also, Margaret Howie (5th 2013) will need to bring her be on form to match the above two girls. Should be another close race…

Male 45-49 Recently aged up, Brett Dunstan looks the goods here to take the win. Coming from a strong running back round, Brett has improved his biking to ensure he is close enough to the front runners to be able to real them in.

Powerful biker Ricky Jeffs returns to Melbourne, however not a great runner will see him get off the bike and onto a treadmill and watch the runners fly by.

This age group looks to be a running affair with Darryn James and John Meagher also pure runners. Should be a great race if the above few get onto the run together.

Female 45-49 Anne Martin & Jodie Morris both return to improve on there 4th and 5th respectively and look like the main contenders in this age group. Jenny Hart was my favourite until she got injured. So this opens the door for many others.

Male 50-54 Rob Hill, another who has aged up should be too strong for his older competitors. Almost a Hawaiian native, Rob sure knows how to get to the Big Island and no doubt will put himself in the same position again this year.

Ron Sammut won’t lay down easily and has the tricks to serve it up to Rob. Others to watch are: Rene Rutze & Allan Moustakis.

Female 50-54 Returning Champ Belinda Birk will be once again favorite, however Miah Franzman & Treymayne will be looking to spoil the party.

There are a few others that could challenge the above 3 including the 2 ladies that I coach in this age group. Jody Gilchrist & Jane Powell.

Like every other age group, the race is not over until the line is crossed.

Male 55-59 The evergreen Kevin Ferguson just never gets slower and should be once again be on the top step this year. With more motivation this year to raise money for Cancer, Kev will be a force to be reckoned with.

John Hill & Murray Bridgeland are the only two likely to have any chance of competing with Kevin. 2nd & 3rd looks like a good battle

Female 55-59 Mary Mitchell will be on and off the massage table by the time 2nd crosses the line here. Just aged up also, Mary will have far too much class for her competitors.

Male 60-64 A two man race here b/t Ian Berry & Kevin Bloor (3rd & 5th in 2013). As I am hearing more and more, once the athletes get to this age, they start to rely on out living their opponents. To have competitors still doing Ironman at this ripe age is amazing and not doubt the mindset is still as competitive as when it was as 35.

Female 60-64 I am picking Debi Wess here as Debi has been training under Michael Harvey (25-29) since arriving in Australia in early January. Improvements are coming and her 2nd place recently at Geelong 70.3 is a great indicator.

Male 65-69 As the above I am picking Hartley Wess. Both Debi & Hartley have traveled to Australia to give themselves enough time to acclimatize to Melbourne and prepare themselves for Melbourne. As per Debi, Hartley also finished 2nd in his age group at Geelong 70.3.

Female 65-69 This will be the first race in many that Karla McKinlay will have competitors and based on that I am going to go with Shirley Rolston. Seeing these ladies cross the finish line is a MUST! Inspirational is an understatement.

Male 70-74 Geoff Thorsten only competitor here.

Once again, these are just my thoughts, there are many fast athletes towing the start line and I am looking forward to lining up against the above and everyone else on Sunday.

Let the games begin...


PS... Sam Hume has since withdrawn from the event due to an injury.  This opens up the 35-39 age group further... Derrek Cross is a threat in this age group now also.


  1. For the record, Eimear hasn't been coached by Michael Pratt for almost 2 years. Nevertheless, she's one of my picks too!

  2. For the record Kevin Bloor at the ripe age of 60 does not only compete in these triaphlons but BEATS and HARASSES women on the Northern beaches Sydney ruthlessly – He will get caught one day

  3. Time and $ Time and $...especially for people who can live and train and be coached for a year into the race. Sure you will win...