Anyway, part of the fun is predicting who will shine on the big stage. My picks for the top 3 men and women are:
Pete Jacobs - defending champ. Rounding into form with a recent 70.3 win that blew everyone away. One of the fastest runners ever, one of the top swimmers and proved last year he can bike with the best.
Sebastian Kienle. If it wasn't for a badly timed flat, he may have won last year. Insanely gifted cyclist! He has won 70.3 Worlds twice now. He will punish everyone on the bike and build up a lead. He's good at running with the lead as well. He's not as fast as Crowie or Jacobs but not far off. I predict he loses the lead late in the marathon.
Craig "Crowie" Alexander. Probably the best runner for this hot n' humid course. A 3-time winner. Had a bad race last year due to injury. At 40 years old, may be his last Kona. I believe he'll sit in for the bike letting others do most of the work and unleash during the run. He'll likely go low 2:40s in the marathon to climb up to third for another podium.
Caroline Steffen. Led for most of the day last year and was passed by winner Leanda Cave late into the marathon. Leanda's been injured so should not be a factor in 2013. Caroline is probably the best cyclist in the field and if she improves her marathon 1-2% she will win this race outright.
Rachael Joyce. The Brit has no weaknesses, is strong, and has had a quiet schedule this year to focus on Kona. If healthy and injury-free she has the talent to take this race. It will be interesting to see how she handles the bike with Steffen. If Steffen has a smaller than expected lead after the bike and Joyce is within distance, she may very well take the title.
Mirinda Carfrae. Always the best runner, Rinny has to limit the damage done with time lost on the bike. She cannot stay with the uberbikers - she's always in the position of running them down. By the end of the day she'll be in the mix but the other girls have upped their games on the run and the difference is getting smaller and smaller.
There you go - that's my armchair predictions. Enjoy the race!