The 2018 season was filled with numerous standout performances. There was Daniela Ryf’s dominant long course season, winning both the 70.3 and Ironman World Championship. Jan Frodeno’s spectacular performance at 70.3 Worlds. Patrick Lange’s sub-eight-hour Ironman in Kona, and Kristian Blummenfelt’s world best half-Ironman time of 3:29:04 in Bahrain. Don’t forget the thrilling battle between USA’s Katie Zaferes and Britain’s Vicky Holland for the 2018 WTS title, and Mario Mola’s third straight WTS win.
This year, also had a number of athletes return to competition after a car crash, stress fracture and childbirth. Here are some of the biggest comeback stories of 2018:
Tim Don, the man with the halo
Days before the 2017 Ironman World Championship, Tim Don (GBR) was hit by a car on his bike. The accident left him with more than just a few cuts and bruises, he also sustained a broken neck in the crash.
Following the injury, Don went through a strenuous physical therapy protocol to return to health.
To mark his return, Don competed at the 2018 Boston Marathon and finished in 2:49:42. In his comeback triathlon, Ironman 70.3 Costa Rica, Don won in a time of 3:49:59.
Related: Tim Don “The Man with the Halo”
Just a year after the horrific crash, Don returned to the Big Island of Hawaii and finished the Ironman World Championship in 8:45:17.
Matt Russell’s remarkable comeback
On October 14th, 2017, Matt Russell (USA) was competing at the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. After passing the 120K mark on the bike, Russell collided with a van going over 45km/h.
Once the medics arrived, Russell was immediately transported to a hospital where his injuries were assessed and treated. The crash left Russell with a severed sternocleidomastoid (a muscle in the neck) and jugular vein on his right side, as well as a concussion.
After months of recovery and rehab, Russell returned to racing at Ironman 70.3 Texas. Throughout 2018, Russell’s results steadily improved with top ten finishes at Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga and Mont-Tremblant. Then at Ironman Canada, Russell finished in third and reached the podium for the first time since his injury.
Thanks to another third-place finish at Ironman Mont-Tremblant, Russell was given a wildcard entry to the 2018 Ironman World Championship.
In his return to the World Championship, Russell finished in 8:04:45 which was good enough for sixth in the world.
Tara Norton becomes Ultraman World Champion
In 2016, just days after the Ultraman World Championship, Tara Norton (CAN) broke her femur.
After a year of recovery and intense rehab, Norton returned to racing ultra-endurance events in 2018.
In August, Norton became the first solo woman to conquer the Dóxa Threelay, a two-day event that covers 285 miles with 36 legs that don’t follow the traditional sequence of swim, bike, run.
Then, on Nov. 23rd, Norton returned to the Ultraman World Championship and won.
Terenzo Bozzone returns to racing after a devasting crash
After one of the best starts to the 2018 season, Terenzo Bozzone (NZL) was hit by a truck on June 3rd in Kumeu, New Zealand. The five-time world champion sustained a number of injuries in the crash, including a broken eye socket, concussion and multiple wounds to his body.
Related: Terenzo Bozzone wins again
After five months of rehab, the Kiwi returned to racing at Ironman 70.3 Western Sydney. Up against a strong professional men’s field, Bozzone won the race. Then, just a week after his comeback win, Bozzone won Ironman Western Australia.
Holly Lawrence’s comeback win
After eight long months of rehab, Holly Lawrence (GBR) returned to racing with a win at the Ironman 70.3 Middle East Championship in Bahrain.
Earlier this year, at Ironman 70.3 Oceanside, Lawrence discovered she had an undiagnosed stress fracture in her foot. Despite the pain, Lawrence still managed to finish second behind Germany’s Anne Haug.
At the 2018 Ironman 70.3 Middle East Championship, Lawrence set the fastest swim/bike split of the day and was able to hold onto her first-place position as Sarah Lewis (GBR) made a late charge in the 21.1K run.
Mirinda Carfrae’s return from maternal leave
Early in the spring of 2017, the triathlon couple of Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) and Tim O’Donnell (USA) announced they would be expecting a baby girl in the summer of 2017.
After giving birth to Izzy in August 2017, Carfrae planned on returning to triathlon in 2018.
As the 2018 triathlon season progressed, so did Carfrae’s fitness and results. Despite missing the podium at the Ironman World Championships by eighth minutes, Carfrae, a three-time world champion, has been able to return to an elite level after given birth to a baby.