Just when you think you're tough enough


Daniela Ryf Wins Fifth IRONMAN World Championship Crown

ST GEORGE, UTAH – MAY 07: Daniela Ryf of Switzerland celebrates as nears the finish line to win the 2021 IRONMAN World Championships on May 07, 2022 in St George, Utah. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Daniella Ryf battled to win her fifth IRONMAN World Championship crown recently held in Utah, USA. Following a two-year hiatus, the 2021 Intermountain Healthcare IRONMAN® World Championship became the first location to host the event outside of Hawai`i since its origins in 1978.

“Two and a half years’ wait and I’m so happy. To come to this finish, with this crowd, after a really hard last few months I’m just so stoked to bring it together today. I had fun today, and that’s really important.” – Ryf reflected at the finish line.

More than 2,800 athletes started the days race including the impressive professional field. The 2021 Intermountain Healthcare IRONMAN World Championship presented by Utah Sports Commission kicked off with a 2.4-mile (3.86km) ROKA Swim Course, taking place in Sand Hollow Reservoir.

Followed by a challenging 112-mile (180.2km) FulGaz Bike Course that led athletes through stunning desert landscapes with 7,374 feet (2,248 meters) of elevation gain and an unforgettable climb through the Snow Canyon State Park at the 100-mile mark. The 26.2-mile (42.2km) HOKA Run Course will led athletes on two loops through St. George with 1,413 ft (431m) of climbing before culminating in an unforgettable finish line experience in the heart of downtown St. George.

Ryf returns to glory

In the women’s IRONMAN World Championship race, American Haley Chura was first out of the water with over two minutes on the rest of the field. Fenella Langridge (GBR) and Lisa Norden (SWE) were next in line, with Daniela Ryf (CHE) leading a chase group four minutes back containing Skye Moench (USA), Jocelyn McCauley (USA), and Anne Haug (DEU).

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ST GEORGE, UTAH – MAY 07: Women’s champion Daniela Ryf of Switzerland and men’s champion Kristian Blummenfelt of Norway celebrate after winning the 2021 IRONMAN World Championships on May 07, 2022 in St George, Utah. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Norden took over the lead early on the bike, with Ryf, Kat Matthews (GBR), and Moench also asserting themselves. By the 40-mile point, Ryf had confidently taken the lead, passing Norden and eventually Matthews. The Swiss athlete and Matthews would go on to lead the rest of the bike together as the rest of the field fell scattered behind them.

By the halfway point of the bike, the four-time IRONMAN World Champion, Ryf made a characteristically bold move, pushing to the front and continuing to make up time at the front—to the tune of seven minutes ahead of her next-closest chaser, Matthews, and 15 minutes on super-runner and reigning IRONMAN World Champion, Haug.

Over the 26.2-mile hilly marathon, Ryf continued to run away from the rest of the field to the tune of “comeback race” and “the return of the Angry Bird” from commentators and fans. She crossed the finish line in 8:34:69 (including a sub-three-hour marathon) with a display of joy and passion uncharacteristic of the levelheaded athlete.

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ST GEORGE, UTAH – MAY 07: Raquel Sampson of the United States high fives fans as she runs to the finish line during the 2021 IRONMAN World Championship on May 07, 2022 in St George, Utah. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Ryf flashed the number five to signify her five IRONMAN World Championship victories, putting her in the esteemed company of only Paula Newby-Fraser and Natascha Badmann.

Matthews, who won two IRONMAN races last year but is a newcomer to this championship event, hung on for second with an 8:43:49 finish time. Though she was unable to challenge Ryf’s dominance, the 31-year-old put in a few strong surges and fought hard to hold onto her position.

“I cannot understand how my brain and body were able to push like that. My first world champs to come second to Daniela Ryf? I’m happy. Honestly, I think I paced it perfectly.” said Matthews at the finish line.

Haug gave it all she had and rounded out the podium in third on the heels of consistent performances across all three disciplines and her crowning glory: a race-best run of 2:56:00.

Top five professional women’s results:

1 Daniela Ryf (CHE) 54:42 4:37:46 2:59:36 08:34:59
2 Kat Matthews (GBR) 54:48 4:44:40 3:00:57 08:43:49
3 Anne Haug (DEU) 54:47 4:52:53 2:56:00 08:47:03
4 Skye Moench (USA) 54:44 4:53:13 3:04:21 08:55:21
5 Ruth Astle (GBR) 59:23 4:50:45 3:06:35 09:00:09

News and Notes from the Day

  • Daniela Ryf (CHE) fifth IRONMAN World Championship title moves her into third place on the women’s career victories list, trailing ‘Queen of Kona’ Paula Newby-Fraser (eight) and fellow Swiss Natascha Badmann (six).
  • Despite defeating Kat Matthews (GBR) by 8:50, the margin of victory amazing was Ryf’s smallest of her five IRONMAN World Championship victories. Ryf’s wins and margins of victory are 13:03 in 2015; 23:44 in 2016; 8:51 in 2017; 10:16 in 2018; and 8:50 in 2021
  • Known as the Irish IRONMAN Voice, Joanne Murphy became the first female to race announce the IRONMAN World Championship.
  • Lauren Parker (AUS) became the third female in the handcycle division to finish the IRONMAN World Championship. Previous finishers included Minda Dentler (2013) and Liz McTernan (2018). Lauren’s finish time of 14:00:47 created a new world best time at the IRONMAN World Championship in the female handcycle division.
  • Ruth Astle (GBR) raced into a fifth-place finish in her first professional appearance at the IRONMAN World Championship; In the last IRONMAN World Championship race in 2019, Astle won her F30-34 Age Group Division.