Daniela Ryf won the Hawaiian Ironman World Championship for the third time today, in a time of 8:50:47. Perhaps the true measure of a champion his whether you can win when it’s not your best day. If so, this is the win that cements Ryf’s legacy.
"It was the hardest I had to ever fight for the win,” she said at the finish. “I'm so happy to turn it around today."
The swim quickly became a 2-woman battle between world class open water swimmer-turned-triathlete Lucy Charles and Lauren Brandon. This was Kona’s best swim competition in years, with Lauren clearly jonesing for the swim prime (and possible course record). She came around Charles in the last 100 yards, but Charles knows how to finish an open water swim. Her 48:48 split was just 5 seconds off the swim record.
The bike went a lot like the swim, with Charles leading and Brandon content with the pace Charles set. Meanwhile Ryf, who hopped on her bike about 5 minutes after the leading duo departed on theirs, remained that same distance or more back for 25, 50 and 75, 90 miles. It just wasn’t the same Ryf… until she put the pedal down 87 miles into the ride.
"I felt really bad at the start of the bike,” she said about her race, “and I didn't know what would come. I thought I'd just give my all in the last 40k and didn't even think about the run."
Let’s talk about that last 40k. At the mile-87 time check, Charles had actually out split Ryf on the bike by nearly a minute. By the end of the race Ryf’s bike split was just over 5 minutes faster than Charles’. Ryf outrode Charles by 6 minutes in 25 miles, 4 of it coming in the last 13 miles. It wasn’t that Charles rode slowly. It’s that Ryf stomped on the pedals the way no Ironman competitor can do, besides her. The closing miles were so fast the crowd at T2 did not expect Ryf to come in first off the bike course, ready instead to greet Charles.
Maybe that last 25 miles is what Ryf needed to clear out her carburetors. Once on the run the race was no longer in question. Her 3:00:02 brought her home in 8:50:47. Charles’ 8:59:38 was remarkable considering two years ago she competed here as an age grouper.
Australia’s Sarah Crowley separated herself near the end of the run from Heather Jackson, coming home in 9:01:38. Ms. Jackson came home in 9:02:29.
Hawaiian Ironman World Championship
October 14, 2017
S 2.4mi / B 112mi / R 26.2mi
Results: Elite Women
1. Daniela Ryf (SUI) ) 8:50:47 (53:10, 4:53:10, 3:00:02)
2. Lucy Charles (GBR) 8:59:38 (48:48, 4:58:19, 3:08:09)
3. Sarah Crowley (AUS) 9:01:38 (53:07, 4:57:51, 3:05:37)
4. Heather Jackson (USA) 9:01:38 (57:58, 4:53:55, 3:06:19)
5. Kaisa Sali (FIN) 9:04:40 (57:53, 4:59:50, 3:01:34)
6. Susie Cheetham (GBR) 9:16:00 (57:54, 5:03:28, 3:09:26)
7. Carrie Lester (AUS) 9:19:49 (57:53, 4:59:50, 3:16:35)
8. Liz Lyles (USA) 9:20:31 ((1:00:08, 5:04:10, 3:11:21)
9. Annabel Luxford (BEL) 9:20:58 (53:02, 4:59:15, 3:24:07)
10. Jocelyn McCauley (USA) 9:21:08 (54:31, 5:04:34, 3:16:42)
11. Mareen Hufe (GER) 9:23:11
12. Maja Stage Nielsen (DEN) 9:25:38
13. Linsey Corbin (USA) 9:26:12
14. Melissa Hauschildt (AUS) 9:28:40
15. Laura Siddall (GBR) 9:29:51