Nice in France has for many years been one of the world’s iconic venues for long distance triathlons and its Ironman triathlon is one of the oldest and most respected races on the Ironman circuit noted for its hilly bike course.’
It is a surprise therefore that the city has not previously hosted a world championship Ironman event. All that will be put right though on September 7th when Nice hosts the 2019 Half Ironman (70.3) World Championships.
And Bermuda will once again be represented at these championships as four of Bermuda’s best age group triathletes will be on the start line. To get to Nice Bermuda’s Karen Smith,Louise Wells, Cory Bruton (last year’s best newcomer triathlete at the BTA awards) and the irepressable Kent Richardson ( now in the 60-64 age group) had to qualify with a top finish at an Ironman 70.3 qualifying race, no mean feat as it requires a top placing to have any chance of getting to Nice. Corey Bruton qualified at Chatanooga 70.3 (9th mens 30-34) , Louise at St. George, Utah 70.3 (5th 45-49 ) and Karen (1st 50-54) and Kent 1st in 60-64) at Puerto Rico 70.3
Karen Smith, a multiple times Bermuda national champion, has shown that she can compete at this level having previously won her age group at the full Ironman World Championships. Karen will carry perhaps Bermuda’s best hopes of a medal in Nice as she has consistently been either on the podium or been close to a podium spot in major championships and carries good form into these championships. Karen has also had some strong showings previously in these championships having finished 2nd in 2008, 18th in 2012, 8th in 2014 and 16th in 2017. Karen is using this event as part of her preparation for the full Ironman World Championships in Kona in 6 weeks time but will no doubt still be competitive in her age group.
For Louise these championships will be her second having finished a creditable 26th out of 182 in her age group at the 2018 Ironman 70.3 World Champs in South Africa so she will carry that experience into this race.
Kent has also previously competed at these championships some years ago in Clearwater, Florida where he finished in the top ten in his age group. Whilst the 60-64 age group might seem an easier age group to place well, the growing popularity if triathlon means that he will still face some tough competition in Nice but he should still place well if all goes well as it did in Puerto Rico.
Corey has developed into one of the island’s leading triathletes and although he might be the least experienced of the four, he had improved in leaps and bounds and whilst in a tough age group he will no doubt be looking forward to the challenge.
All four will be lining up against the best age groupers from around the world but all four have shown that they belong in that company. We look forward with great anticipation to their results this coming weekend.
For more go to http://www.ironman.com where you can follow their progress on the result tracker which shows their progress in the race.