Daniela Ryf leads the Bahrain Endurance 13 charge at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship. The defending champion seeks to extend her winning streak and become the first athlete to claim three consecutive 70.3 world championship victories over three different courses.

With this year’s race held in the Sunshine Coast, Australia, Ryf flew in two weeks early to acclimatize. “Mooloolaba is a special race for me, as I raced the World Cup three times and have some great memories,” she says, referring to the long-running ITU event hosted here. “I decided to come early to make the best preparation I can and keep up the work also leading into Kona.

“It will be a tough race, where tired legs need to suck it up with these hills, as even the run will be tough. I did everything I could to be ready for this challenge and I’m excited to race in front of the Aussie crowd.”

Caroline Steffen is based in Mooloolaba and knows the course better than anyone. She says, “To have the world championship in my training backyard is just great. I hope I can count on the home advantage. Also I have done well in previous years on this course, which gives me some confidence, too.”

Of the previous times Steffen has raced her compatriot she has successfully managed to hold her own, most recently coming in second at the Bahrain and Dubai Ironman 70.3’s. She also owns a two-year podium streak over the 70.3 distance.

“In 2016 I made some changes to my race schedule, skipping full Ironman racing including Kona. My body needed a break, so I thought why not focus on 70.3 for one year with Mooloolaba and not Kona as my main goal,” she explains. “Preparation with new coach Daniel Plews is going well. I’m pretty happy with my year so far and if we keep doing what we are doing, then I think I can finish in the Top 3 this Sunday.”

With Jan Frodeno opting out of defending here, the field is wide open for a new men’s champion to be crowned. Terenzo Bozzone seeks to reclaim the world championship title he won in 2008. Like Steffen, he has not been off a 70.3 podium in two years. The Kiwi says, “I love racing in Mooloolaba. It brings back so many great memories of my ITU days. This is a true triathlete’s course and I’m excited to be back here again. The championship races are always exciting and I can’t wait to get out there on Sunday and mix it up.”

Another former ITU athlete, Canadian Brent McMahon has also made the trip Down Under for the championship. This will be McMahon’s first appearance at the 70.3 world championship, but considering his speed over the Ironman distance he has been tapped as one to influence the race this year.

He says, “It’s been a long while since I have been in Australia. The last time was for the ITU race in Mooloolaba, so it’s great to be back to the same spot doing the 70.3 World Championship. We’ve been working on getting some of that ITU speed back just for this race, so it will be fun to tackle this new course.”

Australian Sam Appleton completes the roster. He says, “Another great summer in Boulder. Time to head back to the motherland!” This half-ironman specialist took home a 70.3 title in Buenos Aires, a third place in Boulder, and has consistently placed within the top 10 of deep fields this year.

Watch out for the racing red to dominate the course on Sunday.