European dominance of the IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona has continued but not as the pre-race script had been written.
While Switzerland’s “Angry Bird” Daniela Ryf made it three Kona victories, it was not defending champion Jan Frodeno’s day, with the men’s championship title transferring to fellow countryman Patrick Lange.
Coming from a nine minute deficit off the bike, Lange revelled in near perfect conditions to write himself into the IRONMAN history books to destroy the course record set in 2011 by Australian Craig Alexander, with a 2:39:59 marathon that helped deliver a total race time of 8:01:40.
In a record breaking day, Aussie Cameron Wurf won the battle of the uberbikers taking control of the race at the 110km mark and leading into the bike/run transition to set a new bike course record of 4:12:54, more than five minutes faster than Normann Stadler’s 2006 record.
Wurf surrendered his lead early on in the run, as Lionel Sanders (CAN and Sebastian Kienle (GER) made their presence felt, but very quickly all eyes turned to a charging Patrick Lange who had moved into third at 21km of the marathon intent on reducing the six minute deficit to the leading Sanders.
Lange was on a mission and keen to improve on his third place last year and with 5km to go on the run he flew past Sanders, heading for town and the adoring crowd lining the run course and the finish line in Ali’i Drive.
“It’s everything I ever dreamed of. Oh my god, I cannot believe it,” Lange said. “I always, always, always since I was a child dreamed to have this crown. From time to time you think someone is hitting with a baseball beneath your knees and you just want to drop out. I really had to fight, I had to fight so hard,” Lange said at the finish line.
A fading Sanders managed to hold off the hard charging David McNamee (GBR) for second with Kienle and James Cunnama (ZAF) crossing the finish to take fourth and fifth.
Swiss Daniela Ryf joined an exclusive club at the IRONMAN World Championships, recording her third win in Kona with a very workmanlike and strategic victory that while remarkably effective, lacked her usual flair and total dominance.
Ryf didn’t have it all her own way, with Lucy Charles dominating the swim and majority of the bike before Ryf decided that enough was enough. Ryf wrestled the lead off the Brit and charged for home with the fastest run of the day, putting a nine-minute gap to her chasers by the end of the 42.2km run.
“It was the hardest I had to ever fight for the win. I’m so happy to turn it around today,” a more emotional than usual Ryf said at the finish line.
It was a great race for the Australian girls with Sarah Crowley rounding out the podium with a stunning third place, Carrie Lester grabbing 7th and Annabel Luxford finishing in 9th.
Sarah Crowley continued her stunning 2017 season adding an IRONMAN World Championship bronze medal to her ITU World Long Distance crown and stunning victories at IRONMAN Cairns and IRONMAN Frankfurt. It was a massive improvement on her 15th placing on debut in 2016 but it nearly didn’t come about with Crowley falling off her bike near Kawaihae and taking some skin off her arms.
“I am very happy with third. I had the best swim of my career, it was just unreal. I had a bit of mishap on the bike when I caught a cross wind while taking a drink and I fell over and stacked. I had to make a split decision as to whether I keep going or not, then I had to burn a few matches to catch back up. Annabel Luxford called out ‘Sarah, get up’ It shocked me a bit and I was in a bit of pain too. So I was pretty happy to then hold on in the run.”
“We have been working through stuff all year and every time you come away from a race like this you find more things to work on. Out of today there is still some work to do on the back end of the bike which is good because it means there is more to come,” Crowley said.
Top 10 Pro Men
1 Patrick Lange DEU 48:45 4:28:53 2:40:00 08:01:40
2 Lionel Sanders CAN 53:41 4:14:18 2:51:53 08:04:07
3 David McNamee GBR 48:40 4:28:55 2:45:30 08:07:11
4 Sebastian Kienle DEU 53:44 4:14:57 2:57:12 08:09:59
5 James Cunnama ZAF 49:09 4:21:02 2:56:46 08:11:24
6 Terenzo Bozzone NZL 48:41 4:26:19 2:53:48 08:13:06
7 Andy Potts USA 49:01 4:31:02 2:50:27 08:14:43
8 Patrik Nilsson SWE 48:34 4:29:01 2:55:51 08:18:21
9 Ben Hoffman USA 48:52 4:22:00 3:04:16 08:19:26
10 Boris Stein DEU 53:48 4:23:59 3:00:42 08:22:24
Top 10 Pro Women
1 Daniela Ryf CHE 53:10 4:53:10 3:00:02 08:50:47
2 Lucy Charles GBR 48:48 4:58:19 3:08:09 08:59:38
3 Sarah Crowley AUS 53:07 4:57:51 3:05:37 09:01:38
4 Heather Jackson USA 57:58 4:53:55 3:06:19 09:02:29
5 Kaisa Sali FIN 57:53 4:59:50 3:01:34 09:04:40
6 Susie Cheetham GBR 57:54 5:03:27 3:09:26 09:16:00
7 Carrie Lester AUS 57:51 5:00:31 3:16:35 09:19:49
8 Liz Lyles USA 1:00:08 5:04:09 3:11:21 09:20:31
9 Annabel Luxford AUS 53:02 4:59:14 3:24:07 09:20:58
10 Jocelyn McCauley USA 54:31 5:04:33 3:16:42 09:21:08