Fast and Furious at SunSmart IRONMAN Western Australia
Defending champion Melissa Hauschildt is hoping to put a horrendous season behind her at the SunSmart IRONMAN Western Australia (3 December) and regain the form that saw her dominate last year with a course record of 8:54:39.
Melissa’s 2017 was a year of intense frustration with two major surgeries (both having complications that turned into four operations) to rectify a kinked iliac artery shutting off the blood supply to her left leg.
“The kinked artery is fixed and while I have been playing catch up with my season I am back to try again ready to give it my all. I’ve had a couple of races in the lead-up and feel like I’m heading in the right direction. Preparation has been good and I’m back to full health now and building a solid base.”
“I really enjoyed the IRONMAN Western Australia course last year. The swim is beautiful, the bike course is tough being so flat and fast and the multiple lap run was great as the course is always full of spectators.”
“The highlight of this year has been to finally come out the other side of some crazy surgeries and finish three world championships at Penticton Chattanooga and Kona. The results were not great but my season is just beginning and I intend to finish the year off strong with a solid IRONMAN and qualify for Kona 2018,” Melissa said.
Dutch speedster Yvonne van Vlerken returns to the SunSmart IRONMAN Western Australia to celebrate 40 IRONMAN races and is determined to unleash her formidable bike/run combination on the fast and flat Busselton course.
Season 2017 has seen Yvonne set three new course records at Wanaka, the European Championships in Almere and IRONMAN Barcelona and she would love to add a quick Busselton time to her resume.
“I’ve raced in Busso twice before, both times have been a bit unlucky. The first time I had a spectacular crash after 90 km at the turnaround in front of all the spectators and struggled the whole race, finishing fifth, bleeding and scratched all over. The year after I got food poisoning leading into the race and wasn’t able to recover fully. I love the course and hope to have figured out how to handle it for this year’s event. But you could say I have unfinished business with this IRONMAN.”
“IRONMAN Western Australia will be my sixth IRONMAN of the year and with a lot of 70.3 races and four Olympic races, it has been a packed 2017. As a European athlete, it has been a long season and I’m just looking for a great event to have a last hard hit out before I can really enjoy my winter break,” she said.
German athlete Mareen Hufe is more than familiar with the IRONMAN Western Australia course having been runner-up in 2013/14/15/16. Mareen returns to Busselton fresh from a strong result at IRONMAN Malaysia and she is looking to break her streak of second places and finally stand on top of the podium.
“I trained consistently all European summer and had a good race in Malaysia. This is my fifth start and every year I have placed second. I am prepared for some waves in the ocean and to push hard all the way on the bike. Plus doing the U-turns. I am looking forward to getting back to Busselton to secure my Kona qualification, have a good race and see my friends in Australia.”
Local professional Dimity-Lee Duke comes from Roelands just outside Busselton. She is no stranger to IRONMAN Western Australia having raced there seven times as an age grouper and once as a pro and she is looking for nine to be her lucky number.
“IMWA holds a special place in my heart. It is where I started my triathlon journey and is also my stomping ground for training. I am looking forward to racing in front of my home crowd. I missed last year and it made me realise how much I loved racing in Busselton. The course suits my strengths and even though most people consider this as an easy course I do feel there is a number of factors which can catch you out (especially the wind and heat).”
“My 2017 season has had some highs and lows but overall I am happy with my progress. I have been travelling all year so, after Busselton, I am looking forward to spending some time and home with my family and friends,” she said.
Text and image: IRONMAN