Good morning from beautiful Kailua-Kona! Our video coverage of the race is about to begin.
Lots of smiles at body marking: Yvonne Van Vlerken is having a laugh as she chats with Lisa Bentley over at body marking right now. She was second here two years ago, but had a disappointing day here last year due to some technical issues on her bike. She came back a bit later in the year to win Ironman Cozumel.
"My weight is perfect, my energy is good," says Yvonne Van Vlerken. She says it was the first time here in Kona that she couldn't sleep the night before the race - which she says means she's well rested.
"Mommy's going to win," says Sandra Wallenhorst's son Philip. The third place finisher here two years ago. She had a tough time in Kona last year - a bike crash a few weeks before the race was followed by a near crash at about 30 km on the bike - so she never really got her head into the game. She appears to be on her game this year, though, after another win in Frankfurt in July.
Multiple time top 3 finisher Australia's Kate Major just checked in with Lisa Bentley. She's the owner of one of the fastest run splits here in Kona and reports that she's feeling very good and ready to go for it today.
Leanda Cave looks really relaxed this morning. She's seemed in a really good head space all week - we're anticipating that both she and Julie Dibens could hammer through the swim and bike today.
It's a beautiful morning here at the pier in Kailua-Kona. Currently it's 76 degrees, partly cloudy with calm winds.
We're looking for a high of 85 degrees here in Kona today with a 20% chance of showers and winds up to 10mph. It will no doubt be hotter and windier out on the Queen K.
Alexander looks focused. Craig Alexander cruised through body marking and looks like he's ready for a big day - he's got this all down pat now - he hardly slowed down for a second as he worked his way towards transition.
Bonness sighting - Joe Bonness, the amazing 55-year-old, walked by with his headphones on early this morning. I'd hate to be racing in that category today. Bonness regularly finishes at the top of his age group - not to mention some top 10 and top 20 overall finishes at Ironman races over the last few years.
McGlone ready to go. Everyone who has seen Canadian Samantha McGlone this week has commented on how fit she looks. The winner of the first Foster Grant Ironman World Championship 70.3 managed a sixth-place finish here last year, then won in Arizona.
CHRISSIE WELLINGTON IS OUT: (an official statement) It is with huge regret and after much soul searching that due to illness Chrissie has announced that she is unable to race. Chrissie started feeling unwell yesterday and attempted to train as normal but without her usual intensity. Chrissie left racking her bike until the last minute and hoped that by this morning her health would have improved sufficiently to start. Chrissie has described this as the hardest decision of her life to date and out of respect for the race and her fellow competitors feels that she should only start if she can compete in the manner that the sport of triathlon has become accustomed to. Chrissie would like to wish everyone an enjoyable and safe race.
More on Chrissie - last night we heard that Wellington was having some sort of bike issues - we weren't sure what was happening. Now it makes sense why she seemed to be so upset. I can't imagine how disappointed she must be at this point - our thoughts are with her this morning!
Raynard Tissink - hoping for a slow day! Tissink typically has his best races in tough conditions - this morning he told me that he's hoping it's really windy and really hot today. Those conditions will suit him best.
The dynamics change for the women. Without Chrissie Wellington in this field, the race tactics for many of the women are likely to change. Last year 12 minutes separated second through fifth. The gap between first and second, though, was just under 20 minutes.
The men's swim: Andy Potts is expected to lead the way today, but during his interview this week Rasmus Henning suggested that he might be one of the athletes who could keep up with the American. Another man who might be in the mix up at the front is Faris Al-Sultan.
Women's swim predictions: Most people seem to think that Julie Dibens will be the women's swim leader today. Some other women who should/ could be close include Dede Griesbauer, Leanda Cave (a teammate of Dibens in College), and Tereza Macel.
Getting ready for the start. We're just a few minutes away from the pro race start. The age group athletes will get rolling a half hour later - the traditional 7AM start.
Checking the suits - with the new swim suit rules for the Ford Ironman World Championship, it was interesting to learn that the suits will be checked after the race before their returned to the athletes.
They're off! This will be the largest pro field we'll see in Kona for many years to come. The new qualifying rules will limit the field to 50 pro men and 30 pro women starting in 2011.
A lot of swell out there - the word is that the tide is going out this morning, which means that the swim will likely be faster on the way out and a bit tougher coming back in.
Potts and another (we think Henning) have already pulled clear of the rest of the rest of the chase pack.
That other swimmer is Pete Jacobs - they've opened up a gap of about 15 m on the group that includes Rasmus Henning, Chris McCormack and Faris Al-Sultan.
Frederik Van Lierde is also in the chase group, swimming stroke for stroke with Faris Al-Sultan.
Julie Dibens is leading the womens race. She has a lead of about 15 m on Amy Marsh.
The lead grows to 40 m. Pete Jacobs and Andy Potts are still pulling well clear of the group. The chase group now includes Andrear Bocherer, Stephen Bayliss, along with McCormack, Al-Sultan, Van Lierde (Frederik!) and Henning.
Potts pulls away: Andy Potts has now opened up a gap on Pete Jacobs - a few minutes ago it was a few body lengths - now it looks like at least 10 m.
Andy Potts won Ford Ironman Coeur d'Alene ... from start to finish. The former Olympian has suddenly pulled well ahead of the rest of the field - he's about 75 yards ahead of the chase pack and 15 or 20 yards ahead of Jacobs.
More on Chrissie: Her manager just asked us to let everyone know that Chrissie Wellington is suffering from flu-like symptoms today, which is why she had to pull out of the race.
Alexander part of the chase group. Also in that group are Mike Aigroz, Ben Hoffman and Justin Daerr.
Rachel Joyce joins Dibens near the front. Joyce is a walking United Nations candidate - born in Mexico City, she now lives in the United Kingdom and is racing for Team Abu Dhabi. She was fourth out of the water last year and fourth off the bike before finishing sixth.
Pete Jacobs waits for the chase pack. He's slowed up the last little bit - no doubt because he's realized he's not staying with Potts here today.
Coming up to halfway: Andy Potts is flying through the swim here. Potts is one of the athletes who will benefit the most from the new swim suit rules. He'll also be quite happy to have made the break - this will put him on the bike well ahead of the other man who would have liked to be out in front after the swim - Rasmus Henning.
The gap is 1 minute now between Andy Potts and Pete Jacobs, who is now only about 10 yards ahead of the chase group - which is getting huge.
Julie Dibens and Rachel Joyce are in the men's chase group, swimming about 1:30 behind Potts.
The third chase group includes four women, including Tereza Macel, Dede Griesbauer and Caroline Steffen.
Another group of women - there are about 10 women in a chase group who are about 30 seconds behind the Macel, Griesbauer and Steffen group.
The age group start is coming up. They're about two minutes away from the start. There will be about 1,700 athletes heading off at once. A crazy number of those will come out of the water in under 65 minutes.
The blender! Getting started here in Kona is always an interesting experience - that many strong swimmers all starting at once makes for some craziness!
Potts continues to pull away. He's really far out ahead of the rest of the field right now. The lead stand up paddler is Roch Frey - he's leading Potts back towards the pier right now.
Potts is getting close to the finish. People here are thinking he's about five minutes away from the swim finish - which would put him in at about 45 minutes.
The men's pack has spread out, but hasn't really lost any of the contenders from earlier today. Potts is almost done.
Andy Potts is now at the pier. He'll be out of the water momentarily.