Good morning from beautiful Clearwater! It looks like it will be a near-perfect day for the Foster Grant Ironman World Championship 70.3. The temperature right now is 61 degrees Fahrenheit - we're on our way to a high of 76, according to the weatherman. Right now there's not a cloud in the sky and the wind is quite light, too.
Our video coverage has started, with hosts Greg Welch and Lisa Bentley on the set. Michael Lovato and Chris McDonald are roaming around the transition area right now.
I just saw an intense Jodie Swallow heading over to transition - the woman from the UK has been on fire over the last part of the year - pretty much since she joined Team TBB and started working with Brett Sutton. She looked incredibly serious as she prepared for this morning's race.
The water temperature this morning is 64 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 17.7 degrees Celsius. Wetsuits will, of course, be allowed. When I swam yesterday it didn't feel that cool - though.
Another name people are talking about as a favorite - Filip Ospaly. The man from the Czech Republic arrives in Clearwater a bit under the radar.
Our text team crew this morning: Kevin Mackinnon, the managing editor or Ironman.com, is writing the text updates. Our spotting crew is being organized by Brian Harrington and we have a couple of celebrity spotters out on the course - Marti and Mike Greer, the race directors of Ironman 70.3 Buffalo Springs.
The male pros are ready to go ... a few moments to our race start.
The race has started! The men are into the water. One athlete really exploded into the water - not sure who that was, but it looked like Matty Reed.
It looked like Raelert also got a great start, too. He's been like a jackrabbit all week - both nervous and excited as he prepared to defend his title.
Another of the frontrunners: David Kahn. He's a former NCAA top level swimmer.
The women are off. It looks like Julie Dibens has managed to get clear almost right off the start. Leanda Cave had planned on getting on Dibens's feet, but she's going to have her work cut out for her on that front this morning.
Another couple of additions to the lead men's group: Joe Gambles and Sylvain Sudrie. Sudrie won in Miami a couple of weeks ago.
There's a bit of chop in the water this morning, which will favor the swimmers from down under, who are most comfortable with these type of conditions.
The women are swimming three up, rather than behind each other. We're going to guess that it's Amanda Stevens, Julie Dibens and Leanda Cave.
The chop is really picking up. On the men's side there is a pack of about 12 who are rounding the second buoy and now starting to head back.
Julie Dibens has opened up a bit of a gap on the women behind her. to get a bit clear.
Dibens appears to have a lead of about 10 m on Leanda Cave and Dr. Amanda Stevens. (Dr. Stevens graduated earlier this year and is actually practicing - proving that she's a master of time management!)
The men's group remains tight. There are at least 12 in that lead pack right now - as we thought, this race is going to be a barn burner!
The lead group appears to have pulled away from the rest of the men's pro field. A few years ago Chris Legh missed the lead pack and never got himself into the race again. To be a contender today, you're likely going to have to be part of this lead group.
The men are coming in to the swim finish. There's a group of about 12 and then a huge gap to the next group. They could be a minute ahead of the second group - which is already very different to last year.
Some of the athletes we saw in the lead group: David Kahn, Michael Raelert, Sudrie, Matty Reed, Brian Fleischman, Tim O'Donnell, Kuttor Csaba, Richie Cunningham
It looks like Brian Fleischmann made it to the bikes first, along with Sylvain Sudrie, Timothy O'Donnell.
David Kahn had some issues on to the bike - his water bottle came out and stuck in his rear wheel.
Raelert is out, but a ways behind the leaders. Right behind him is Joe Gambles. Reinaldo Colucci is behind those two.
Swallow exits the water first: Jodie Swallow was the woman who was breaking clear, not Julie Dibens. Dibens and Stevens are the two athletes trailing the leader. Swallow is flying through the early part of the race here.
So Michael Raelert will have his work cut out for him today - he was over a minute down after the swim here this morning.
The top 10 men's pros: 1 33 Kyle Leto 24 M Walnut Creek CA USA 23:06
2 9 Brian Fleischmann 32 M Colorado Spring CO USA 23:08
3 4 Sudrie Sylvain 28 M Villenave D'orn FRA 23:10
4 31 David Kahn 27 M Port Jefferson NY USA 23:14
5 24 Balazs Csoke 27 M Volketswil HUN 23:17
6 37 Filip Ospaly 34 M Lelekovice CZE 23:19
7 2 Daniel Fontana 35 M Settimo Milanes ITA 23:19
8 45 Paul Matthews 27 M 23:19
9 7 Alberto Casadei 25 M Venezia - Mestr AA ITA 23:20
10 10 Timothy Odonnell 30 M Boulder CO USA 23:20
The first three women:
1 81 Jodie Swallow 29 F Brentwood GBR 24:20
2 57 Amanda Stevens 33 F Colorado Spring CO USA 25:13
3 51 Julie Dibens 35 F Boulder CO GBR 25:16
The women's standings: 1 Swallow, Jodie 1/--/-- 29/WPRO 00:24:20 00:00:00 00:00:00 00:00:00
2 Stevens, Amanda 2/--/-- 33/WPRO 00:25:13 00:00:00 00:00:00 00:00:00
3 Dibens, Julie 3/--/-- 35/WPRO 00:25:16 00:00:00 00:00:00 00:00:00
4 Taylor, Pip 4/--/-- 30/WPRO 00:25:53 00:00:00 00:00:00 00:00:00
5 CAVE, Leanda 5/--/-- 32/WPRO 00:25:56 00:00:00 00:00:00 00:00:00
6 KROFT, Nina 6/--/-- 42/WPRO 00:26:33 00:00:00 00:00:00 00:00:00
7 Stampfli, Carla 7/--/-- 26/WPRO 00:27:08 00:00:00 00:00:00 00:00:00
8 Rollinson, Ayesha 8/--/-- 33/WPRO 00:27:20 00:00:00 00:00:00 00:00:00
9 Homo, Malaika 9/--/-- 32/WPRO 00:27:21 00:00:00 00:00:00 00:00:00
10 Lidbury, Emma-Kate 10/--/-- 30/WPRO 00:27:21 00:00:00 00:00:00 00:00:00
11 Tisseyre, Magali 11/--/-- 29/WPRO 00:27:22 00:00:00 00:00:00 00:00:00
12 Gianinni, Vanessa 12/--/-- 28/WPRO 00:27:22 00:00:00 00:00:00 00:00:00
13 TASTETS, Pamela 13/--/-- 29/WPRO 00:28:31 00:00:00 00:00:00 00:00:00
14 Meyers, Jessica 14/--/-- 32/WPRO 00:29:40 00:00:00 00:00:00 00:00:00
15 MCQUAID, Melanie 15/--/-- 37/WPRO 00:29:59 00:00:00 00:00:00 00:00:00
Some of the folks who are of note in the women's race - Magali Tisseyre was almost three minutes down, while we still haven't seen Angela Naeth, who hoped to only lose a couple of minutes to the top woman here today.
It's still fairly cool out - the air temperature right now is 59 F, or 15 C.
Through five miles there's a group together that includes: Sudrie SYLVAIN (#4) is in the lead, followed by:
* Paul MATTHEWS (#45)
* Kyle Leto (#33)
* Filip Ospaly (#37)
* Alberto CASADEI (#7)
* Daniel FONTANA (#2)
* Brian FLEISCHMANN (#9)
Angela Naeth, the Canadian who has finished second in six 70.3 events this year, finished the swim in just over 30 minutes, which means she's going to have a tough slog getting into the hunt here today.
Swallow's lead has grown to about 2:30 on Julie Dibens. Here are the first five women on the course at 5 miles: Jodie Swallow (#81) currently leads the women, she's being pursued by:
* Julie Dibens (#51) at 2:30
* Pip Taylor (#63)
* Amanda Stevens (#57)
* Leanda CAVE (#84)
The men through 10 miles: Kyle Leto (#33) is in the lead, followed by:
* Filip Ospaly (#37)
* Daiki Masuda (#35)
* Sudrie SYLVAIN (#4)
* Timothy ODONNELL (#10)
* Daniel FONTANA (#2)
Angela Naeth is flying through the bike course - she's well behind after the swim, but appears to be making up ground on the women ahead of her.
Naeth just passed Melanie McQuaid, the three-time XTERRA world champion. She is flying through the bike course.