Lunch time is
8-time women's winnerBy Pat Bigold
Newby-Fraser won't get caught up
in the Ironman race until
After winning eight Hawaii Ironman Triathlon World Championships, Paula Newby-Fraser is kicking back this year.
"I'm kind of at the point where I have nothing to lose," said Newby-Fraser, who won the Kona event in 1986, '88-89, '91-94 and '96. "I can play it anyway I want, and if I wind up face-down on the side of the road, that's not as crucial as placing."
Newby-Fraser is the Ironman distance world-record holder for women, finishing in 8 hours, 50 minutes, 24 seconds at Ironman Europe in '92. She also holds the women's Hawaii Ironman course record of 8:55:28, also set in '92. This year's race starts Saturday at 7 a.m.
Newby-Fraser said she won't concern herself with rivals Natascha Badmann of Switzerland, America's Wendy Ingraham and Germany's Uta Mueckel. At least not until the 2.4-mile swim off Kailua Pier.
By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Paula Newby-Fraser will be back to defend her title
in Saturday's Ironman Triathlon in Kailua-Kona.
"About 2 p.m., that's when I will start to look around and see who's where," she said. "After lunch.You know, it's such a long day that someone could do something stupid out there."
"I won't do something rash," she added. "For example, you can destroy a field in the bike phase, but you can also destroy yourself."
This will be Newby-Fraser's 13th Ironman competition..
"I'm out to capture the spirit of the race for myself," she said. "A lot of the top pro athletes see this as a ground where they can prove themselves. But I have the luxury of hanging back now. There is no pressure to rack up the results."
Badmann was runner-up to Newby-Fraser last year. Badmann had the fastest bike split of the day over the 112-mile course before losing to Newby-Fraser in the marathon.
Third-place finisher Karen Smyers of the United States is pregnant and won't compete. Fourth-place finisher Ingraham, an NCAA All-American swimmer, is usually the first woman out of the water, and her closing abilities are improving.
Mueckel, who was fifth last year, was the '96 Ironman Europe champion.
On the men's side, defending champion and world-record holder Luc Van Lierde of Belgium pulled out with a foot infection. That leaves two Germans -- '95-96 runner-up Thomas Hellriegel and Juergen Zack -- and Canadian Peter Reid (fourth in '96) as the front-runners. Reid won the Ironman Australia and Ironman at Lanzarote in a six-week period earlier this summer.
"The race will be won on the bike," he said. "I know Thomas is planning to destroy everybody on the bike because there are not great runners like Mark Allen and Greg Welch in the field this time. So we can't let him get a big lead."
"We all race strong with the bike," said Zack, who has never finished higher than fourth in nine tries.
"I had the Hawaii course record in the bike for four years before Hellriegel took it."
He said the three can complete the bike course in 2:46 to 2:48 .
Zack said he suffered cramps in the last six miles of last year's race, but has changed his running style to avoid stress on downhill terrain.
Besides Hellriegel and Zack, other German contenders are Alexander Taubert (sixth last year) and Lothar Leder, who twice broke the eight-hour barrier in the Ironman Europe.
"There's a lot of pressure on Germans to win here," Zack said. "There have always been expectations for us, but no German has won. The press will be very hard on us if we don't this year."
The factsWhat Ironman Triathlon
When Saturday, 7 a.m.
Course 2.4-mile ocean swim, 112-mile bike race, 26.2-mile run
Defending champs Women: Paula Newby-Fraser; men: Luc van Lierde
Results Top winners will be posted on Starbulletin.com Saturday afternoon