IM Kona 2015 – smooth running

While everyone’s run form is as singular as a fingerprint, the Ironman World Championship is the acid test that rewards a kind of poetic fluidity that conserves energy and grants fleet-footed speed to the very best.

Regardless of finish position, these men and women runners displayed close to their ideal form early on Ali’i Drive, before the heavy weight of the day sags shoulders and turns legs to lead.

At the only place on the course where competitors pass in front of an unobstructed ocean background, the setting offers a clear look at the
often elegant form of some of the best Ironman runners.

All photographs © Timothy Carlson

Andreas Raelert is the essence of fluidity on the run. At age 39, his graceful running style looks effortless and unhurried. His second-best 2:50:02 marathon brought him his third runner-up finish at Kona.

Heather Jackson’s 5th-fastest 3:07:53 run – 1:12 slower than fastest pro woman Liz Blatchford - looked smooth and brought her home 5th in her Kona debut.

Frederik Van Lierde’s classical a stride wastes little energy and brought him home 3rd in 2012, 1st in 2013 and 8th last year. Van Lierde looked picture perfect at Mile 3 of the run but it was not to be the Belgian’s day.

Swiss star Daniela Ryf probably needed to run 3 hours or better to hold off 3-time champ Mirinda Carfrae. But when Carfrae dropped out, a women’s 3rd-fastest 3:06:37 was good enough to win.

Last year at Kona Sebastian Kienle had the fastest bike and a 2:54:36 run to win. In 2015, Kienle’s 2nd-best 4:25:53 bike split and a fading 3:06:08 run left him 8th.

Jan Frodeno of Germany posted the 5th-fastest 2:52:21 run, broken up by strategic aid station walk-throughs that maintained lower body core temps.

Mary Beth Ellis is capable of a sub-3 hour Ironman marathon, but this day she ran out of energy and posted a 3:33:37 split after this smooth striding early on the run.

Cyril Viennot of France ran an economical 2:53:05 split to finish 6th.

Boris Stein of Germany seems to take even longer strides than fellow tall German Jan Frodeno. Stein ran 2:58:48 to take 10th place.

Marino Vanhoenacker vowed he would never return to Kona after a few disasters on the run. Lured back by his fine early season performances, the Belgian found himself out of strength and form on the run.

Rachel Joyce looks graceful on the run. Her women’s 6th-best 3:08:42 was only 1:17 slower than Liz Blatchford’s women's-best split and brought her home in 2nd place.

Jodie Swallow lost nearly two months of mid-summer run training due to a Vitamin B-12 deficiency. So she went all out on the swim and bike but found herself out of gas on the run.

Tim Don has a bit of a herky-jerky form on the run but his feet track straight and true. This day his vaunted foot speed was missing and he finished 15th.

Tyler Butterfield of Bermuda is feared for his bike prowess, but his 2:56:19 run brought him home 5th.

Andy Potts has perfect form in the water and he came out 3rd, 11 seconds behind Dylan McNeice and 6 seconds back of Jan Frodeno. But the form on his 6th-best 2:53:45 marathon was also classic and he finished 4th.

Michelle Vesterby’s 3:17:14 marathon split wasn't among the top 10 women, but after her tied-for-2nd- women’s bike split was good enough for 4th place - and her joy at the finish was epic.

Fraser Cartmell of Great Britain kept his stride on form early on Ali’i Drive, but exhaustion led to a 3:56:33 survival slog.

Camilla Pedersen of Denmark has run much faster, but on this hot and humid day her 3:25:23 run brought her to 8th place.

Daniel Bretscher of the U.S. was another who felt the heat and ran 3:20:33 to finish 31st male pro.

Kyle Buckingham of South Africa ran 3:36:27 on his way to finish 30th male pro.