Some days are like 1988, or 2002, when Madame Pele unleashes vicious weather to humble the greatest of triathlon pros. But no occasion in the first 40 years of the Ironman World Championship has the goddess of the Big Island ever been this generous with her meteorological gifts.
With calm waters in Kailua Bay, practically no wind at all on the long climb to Hawi or anywhere else on the cycling roads. And cloud cover on the run, now four-time champion Daniela Ryf of Switzerland and two-time conqueror Patrick Lange of Germany took full advantage.
Lange became the first man to finish Kona under 8 hours and he did it with a flourish, combining a 50:37 swim, a not so long ago record 4:16:05 bike split and a non-record 2:41:32 marathon. He finished in 7:52:39, roughly nine minutes under his 2017 mark.
Ryf’s performance was even more gob-smacking. After a jellyfish sting dropped her 9 minutes back after the swim, Ryf gathered herself to set a new women’s record for the bike at Kona with a 4:26:07 split that was faster than some pro men and propelled her past early leader Lucy Charles, whose 4:38:11 split also broke the old record. Ryf then polished off her day with a 2:57:05 marathon to finish in an astonishing 8:26:16 – 20 minutes better than her 2016 record. Charles, who at age 25 is just getting started, covered herself with runner-up glory with her 8:36:32 finish – just over 10 minutes behind Ryf and the second fastest women’s performance on the hallowed Kona track.
All photographs © Timothy Carlson
Once faulted for her inability to break three hours, Ryf cruised to a 2:57:05 marathon split.
Exulting at the finish, the scoreboard told the story: S 50:27 B 4:16:05 R 2:41:32 Total 7:52:39.
Lucy Charles hung on to her swim lead until the final miles of her women’s second-best ever 4:38:11 Kona bike split.
After recovering from jellyfish stings, Ryf took down the Kona women’s bike record with a 4:26:07. split.
At 46, Cameron Brown ran 2:55:34 to finish in 8:25:30 for 23rd place.
Anne Haug was an ITU Olympic distance star. This year she went long, won Oceanside 70.3 and now made the podium at Kona.
Josh Amberger crushed the swim and stirred the drink for many miles of the bike before the big foot stars took over.
Cameron Wurf smashed his own Kona bike record with a 4:09:06 split that got him 9th place.
With 2,400 age group entries, crowding on the bike was inevitable but many though organizers inexcusably lax finding solutions to the drafting.
Tim O’Donnell swam 47:45, swim, fell back with a 4:18:46 bike, charged into 3rd on the run before David McNamee took the final podium spot.
A physically challenged competitor rides in the mix.
Braden Currie runs with Bart Aernouts on Alii Drive.
Patrick Lange smashed his own the Kona overall time, but was a minute short of his marathon record.
Lucy Charles ran 3:05:50 on her way to an 8:36:32 runner-up finish – second fastest women’s time in Kona history.
Patrick Lange embraces a fellow competitor.
Daniela Ryf exults at the finish of an 8:26:16 day.
Sarah True matched her 4th place finish at the 2012 Olympics with a 4th at the 2018 Ironman World Championship – in 8:43:32!
Tim Don has reason to celebrate his months-long recovery in a halo to support his neck - one year after his traumatic pre-race accident at Kona.
Three-time Ironman World Champ Mirinda Carfrae considered meeting daughter Izzy at the finish the icing on the cake of her 5th place finish.
Patrick Lange was happy to win, but even happier when his fiancée Julia accepted his wedding proposal at the finish line.