This Saturday is the Oceanside 70.3 which in essence marks the start of the North American season. Many speedy professionals in these early races are looking for points, instead of just looking to test early season fitness. Now with the KPR system in place, these early season wins and podium spots help avoid a last-minute scramble for qualification or exhausting yourself before the finale as Mary Beth Ellis may have done last year with her multiple late season Ironman wins prior to Kona.
Women to watch this weekend include Heather Jackson (see her cover spread in hardcopy with Lava Magazine this month), who with her bike prowess and run speed, could give a strong challenge to the likes of Lesley Patterson, the speedy Scot from San Diego and Magali Tisseye, who with a disappointing showing at last years 70.3 Championship race, will be looking for a strong start to her season. You can never discount Melanie McQuaid, the Xterra darling, nor American Linsey Corbin, who after some injury last year will be looking to start her year off with a bigger bang after a strong 2nd in San Juan a few weeks ago. There’s also Meredith Kessler coming off a win in New Zealand’s 70.3.
On the men’s side, Andy Potts will be looking to repeat his win from last year, but any mistake will prove fatal because a very fast field will be on his heels including stellar biker Ben Hoffman and many fleet-footed Aussie’s (watch for Leon Griffin and Paul Ambrose as well as Richie Cunningham to have a shot at the podium). A large field of newbies will be looking to make their mark including Jesse Thomas who had a breakthrough win last year at Wildflower and is also coached by Matt Dixon at Purple Patch. Personal errors and mechanical luck will decide this race which should be very exciting!