She has finished in the top five each of the past three years.
Could this be the year that Bend’s Heather Jackson breaks through and wins the Ironman triathlon world championship?
She knows it will be a daunting task with one of the deepest fields in years and Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf back to race for her fourth consecutive title Saturday in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
Still, anything can happen in one of the world’s toughest races, which includes a 2.4-mile ocean swim, a 112-mile road bike ride and a 26.2-mile road run in the heat and humidity of the Big Island.
“So much can happen in a matter of seconds, literally,” Jackson said this week by phone from Hawaii. “You can turn a corner and there could be four girls walking right there. That happened to me a couple of years ago and I went from eighth place to third place in a matter of seconds. Everyone’s hurting and you never know what you’re going to see around the corner. It happens every year.”
Jackson, 34, finished fourth last year, third in 2016, and fifth in 2015.
This year, she won the Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga (half Ironman distance) in Tennessee in May for the third straight time, and she won the Ironman Lake Placid in New York in July for the second time.
“I had some great lessons this year racing,” Jackson said. “I think the women’s field this year is deeper than it’s ever been so it’s going to come down to being ready to battle for each and every spot. I had some good races this year with exactly that happening.”
Jackson was raised in New Hampshire and is a former hockey player and track cyclist. She moved to Bend from San Diego in 2012.
Not the strongest swimmer, Jackson said she typically comes out of the swim well behind the leaders and passes other competitors during the bike and the run.
Before leaving for Hawaii, Jackson trained in Tucson, Arizona, with fellow Bend triathlete Linsey Corbin, who will race in her 12th Ironman World Championship Saturday.
Corbin, 36, was raised in Bend as a ski racer and a runner. The 1999 graduate of Mountain View High School has spent most of her adulthood as a professional triathlete. This will mark Corbin’s 12th start in the Ironman world championship. She boasts the most world championship finishes of all the pros — men and women — in the field on Saturday.
Corbin finished as high as fifth in 2008, boasts three top-10 placings, and has finished in the top 15 in all 11 of her races at Kona.
She is coming off an impressive victory Sept. 9 at the Ironman Wisconsin, where she set a course record of 9 hours, 12 minutes, 39 seconds.
“I wanted to try something different this year, which is why I raced Wisconsin,” Corbin said via phone from Hawaii this week. “It was kind of a risky move racing an Ironman that close to the world championships, but I think it could play to my favor. I ended up recovering really well.”
Corbin, who finished second to Jackson at Chattanooga, placed out of the top 10 the past two years at Kona and is hoping to return there Saturday.
“A dream day would be the top five, but I’ve come to realize with this race that anything can happen and it’s so much different than the other races we do throughout the year,” Corbin said. “I go into it with not a ton of expectations, because you really don’t know what the course and conditions are going to throw at you. But I would be over the moon to be top 10 again just because I haven’t been there the last couple of years. I feel really fit and prepared to do that, it’s just a matter of executing the best race possible.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0318,