IRONMAN Kona predictions: Mark Allen picks his favourites, and the ‘Ultimate Disruptor’

Triathlon legend looks ahead to Saturday in Hawaii

Staff Reporter
Last updated -

With less than a week to go until the women’s IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, six-time winner Mark Allen has given his predictions on this year’s eagerly-awaited women’s pro race in Hawaii.

Splitting his verdict between two groups, the favourites and the potential disruptors, Allen highlighted six women he believes will provide the key to Saturday’s showdown on the Big Island.

Drawing on his experience of racing on the Island, plus his extensive triathlon knowledge, the American legend provided a great insight into who the race is the most significant for, what conditions favour which athletes and why previous winners can’t be counted out.

Mark Allen’s Kona favourites

Running through the three main favourites for the title, Allen highlights a trio of stars who have already won in Hawaii:

“The three favourites that I see, are the three returning champions who have won that race before. The first is Anne Haug, who is an incredible runner. She is going to be coming in as one of the favourites, especially if it is a long, hard and hot day with some wind – which seems to favour the really good runners.

“Another favourite is Chelsea Sodaro. She won last year and actually went beyond the numbers her coach had picked for her to run at and went above and beyond that right from the beginning. That is a sign of a true competitor and a true champion and she will be back this year.

“Finally, there’s Daniela Ryf, who on five occasions has won the IRONMAN Championship, with four of those in Kona. She is getting to that point in her career where there are not a whole lot of tomorrows, so this would be a really good one to win. She went 8:08 in Challenge Roth to take the win earlier this year, so if she is anywhere near that kind of shape coming into Kona next weekend, then everybody better watch out!” 


Mark Allen’s Kona disruptors

Looking further down the list, Allen also picked out three athletes who will look to upset the status quo:

Laura Philipp IRONMAN 70.3 European Championship Tallinn 2023
German triathlon star Laura Philipp wins IRONMAN 70.3 European Championship Tallinn in 2023 (Getty Images for IRONMAN).

“The first disruptor I am going to pick out for this year is Laura Phillip, who was fourth last year and got a penalty out on the bike. She is one of the best runners in the sport right now and if she has the conditions on the day, then she could not only be on the podium but be the champion of the race.

“Next, Kat Matthews has gotten stronger and stronger since coming back from that horrific accident last year and I think if her progression keeps going the way it has, she could disrupt the apple cart and win that race. Perhaps she’s not necessarily the fastest at any one of those disciplines, but she is so strong and we have said that for many years the IRONMAN is not a speed event, it is a strength event.” 

Finally, Allen underlined the talent possessed by perhaps the most talked about athlete in the field – American prodigy Taylor Knibb. He is excited to see what the two-time 70.3 World Champion can do on her full-distance debut.

“The ultimate disruptor in my mind is Taylor Knibb, the IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion in Finland, she has already qualified for the Olympics and is coming to Kona for the first time. She is super fast on the swim and she is probably the fastest cyclist.

“Whilst she has never gone the distance, she is very calculated, very analytical and knows how to look after her body when she is competing. She doesn’t know the distance, she has never done this before, but she is absolutely fearless and could be the one to be a disruptor of the favourites.” 

Tomos Land
Written by
Tomos Land
Tomos Land is a triathlon & running journalist whose expertise lies in the professional world of short course & long distance triathlon, though he also boasts an extensive knowledge of ultra-running.
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