More than 2,500 participants are expected to flock to Germany on Sunday for the 2013 Frankfurter Sparkasse Ironman European Championship, where the grueling test of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run awaits.
Divisions for professional men, professional women and all others ranging from age 18 to 80-plus will be available for those interested in competing in this prestigious Ironman event.
Spots in Kona and the World Championship are on the line in Germany over the weekend.
A strong pack of men's professionals is signed up and prepared to battle it out for a spot atop the European Championship standings. As noted by Ironman Europe on Twitter, five champions on the men's side will be in Frankfurt:
Among those five is Marino Vanhoenacker, the defending champion from the 2012 event. Defending world champion Pete Jacobs, Sebastian Kienle, Michael Raelert and Eneko Llanos are the other four men with high hopes to take home the crown.
Ivan Rana, Bert Jammaer, Stephan Vuckovic and Dan Halksworth are some more men who could make a surprise trip to the top of the leaderboard in what looks to be a very crowded men's field.
On the women's side, the race is considered to be wide open. Defending champion Caroline Steffen is not back in Germany, leaving Anja Beranek and first-time Ironman participant Natascha Schmitt as two women to watch among 30 vying to become the new European champion.
Here's a complete preview on everything you need to know before Sunday's latest Ironman triathlon begins.
*For complete event coverage and more, visit IronmanFrankfurt.com.
Event Information (via IronmanFrankfurt.com)
What: 2013 Frankfurter Sparkasse Ironman European Championship
Where: Frankfurt, Hessen, Germany
When: Sunday, July 7, 2013
Start Time: 6:45 a.m. and 7 a.m. (Local Time)
Pro Participant List: IronmanFrankfurt.com
TV Coverage: Sport1
Live Coverage: IronmanLive.com
Radio Coverage: hr3
Starting in the water of the Langener Waldsee, the competitors will navigate through two different "slingshot" parts of the 2.4-mile swim.
After completing the first loop, the swimmers will get out of the water for a brief few seconds before getting back in to complete one more loop. They'll make a right turn before hitting the final straightaway, which will then lead to the bike portion of the race.
The bike portion of the race will give the participants a little bit of everything.
Different aspects of the 112-mile bike ride include a trip through the German countryside, an incline portion that should give the riders a Tour de France vibe and a trek through downtown Frankfurt.
A marathon run will end the day in downtown Frankfurt.
The 26.2-mile part of the race will keep the pack along the Main river, which will also be adjacent to the field during the bike ride. The final distance is expected to be a fast part of the course, which should allow for strong marathon splits for those who have the pace to bring it home on their feet.
According to Weather.com, the temperature during the first part of the race shouldn't be too taxing on the participants.
The expected high is 77 degrees Fahrenheit—a temperature that won't hit the racers until the final part of the course. When the swim begins, it should be a comfortable 55 in Frankfurt.
At 5 p.m. local time, the temperature is expected to hit its peak of 77, but by that time, most of the professional field will likely be off the course. A grueling race of this nature is never easy, but it's nice to see Mother Nature won't be challenge No. 4 for all of the expected participants of this event on Sunday.
Follow Bleacher Report's Ethan Grant (@DowntownEG) on Twitter.
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