The world of triathlon was highly anticipating a ‘three-peat’ from Daniela Ryf at the IRONMAN World Championship, in Kona, Hawaii, and she delivered on the Big Island.
Switzerland’s Ryf joined an elite club of pros who’ve taken home more than two wins in the prestigious IRONMAN Kona and her 8:50:47 victory was won on steady performances in all three disciplines.
In the past, the Swiss athlete has always enjoyed a front-of-the-race kind of spotlight. However, Ryf’s less than dramatic appearance on race day led many to falsely believe she wasn’t a factor until she could practically taste the marathon.
Brit Lucy Charles, just a few years into her pro career had sunk her teeth into the swim from the get-go. Only Lauren Brandon was able to stay with her, and the two enjoyed a three-minute lead on the field by the end of the 2.4-mile swim.
Like her rookie cohort Josh Amberger, Charles surprised fans by holding onto her lead well into the race. Brandon stayed with her, the two proving their swim-bike strength. In this case, however, Charles didn’t lose her lead until almost the end of the 112-mile bike ride when Ryf left the chase pack she’d been leading for most of the bike to reclaim her historic position as first into T2.
Annabel Luxford and Sarah Crowley maintained their spots in Ryf’s chase pack, 5 minutes back for most of the ride, while American Heather Jackson was the biggest mover on the bike, riding her way into fifth before the start of the marathon.
How the race was won
Thanks to the fastest run on the day, Ryf’s was able to put a nine-minute gap to her chasers by the end of the 26.2-mile run—just the kind of gap we are used to seeing her employ on the bike.
“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.
She told the crowd that her watts just didn’t seem to come on the bike until the very end, when she knew she had a decision to make.
The remarkable Lucy Charles held on for an impressive Kona debut, and both Crowley and Jackson’s low-three hour times lead them into third and fourth, respectively. The run threat on the day belonged to Finland’s Kaisa Sali, whose second-fastest run on the day launched her confidently into fifth.
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