In our September issue of Triathlon Magazine Canada, we asked if anyone could stop the German juggernaut at the Ironman World Championship. We were referring to the men’s race when asking that question, but we should have asked for the women, too.
The 2019 Ironman World Championship featured a new version of the German juggernaut – both men and women at the top.
Jan Frodeno impressed us all with a course record on a day that didn’t see the favourable conditions we saw here in Kona a year ago, while Anne Haug took the women’s race thanks to a blistering run.
The day started out pretty much as expected in both races as Australian Josh Amberger led the way out of the water in the men’s race, with Frodeno and two-time Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee (GBR) on his heels. Not too far behind were Germans Patrick Lange and Maurice Clavel.
There were no surprises in the women’s race, either, as Great Britain’s Lucy Charles-Barclay blasted to the front for the 3.8 km swim, with American Lauren Brandon right behind.
Out on the bike in the men’s race, the lead group found themselves being chased by some of the world’s top cyclists – Canadian Lionel Sanders came out of the water just behind yet another speedy German, Sebastian Kienle, and Australia’s Cam Wurf. Those three trailed by 4:30 starting the bike.
The lead group dwindled down to just three (Frodeno, Brownlee and O’Donnell) by the time they started the descent from Hawi , but at 150 km, near the airport, Frodeno “put his head down” and pulled clear of the other two. O’Donnell would manage to stay away from the chasers, but into T2 Brownlee had some company and found himself exiting T2 a few steps behind Wurf, and joined by Sanders and Kienle as the group started the run.
The other Canadian man in the field, Cody Beals, would be forced to pull out of the race due to a mechanical issue with his bike.
Charles-Barclay was able to gain ground on the women trying to chase her, hitting T2 with a lead of almost eight minutes on a group that included more Germans, Daniela Bleymehl, Haug and Laura Philipp, along with Australia’s Sarah Crowley and Carrie Lester.
Sanders pushed hard out of T2 with Kienle running right behind, and the fireworks began on the run course. While Frodeno kept cruising at a steady clip (he would eventually post a 2:42 marathon), there was some jockeying in the men’s race for the rest of the spots on the podium as Brownlee pushed the pace.
Further out onto the course, though, it was Kienle who would catch Brownlee first, with Sanders struggling with a noticeable limp out by the time he got to the Queen K and fading. Then it was Wurf’s turn to catch the Olympic champ.
There was no touching Frodeno and O’Donnell, though, as the pair put in solid marathon efforts, as if to prove that you can’t just be good at one sport to win here in Kona. The pair took the first two spots on the podium, with Kienle rounding out the top 3.
In the women’s race, Charles-Barclay continued her “lead the entire race” strategy until about 28 km. Haug’s incredible turnover was just too quick for the British athlete on the run, though. .
Four-time (consecutively) champion Daniela Ryf arrived as the prohibitive favourite, but rumoured stomach problems slowed her down considerably as she finished 13th.
Frodeno’s course record also nails him a spot in history for another reason – he’s the first German to get three Ironman World Championship titles. A tough day saw Sanders finish 22nd.
Haug ran her way to the win thanks to a 2:51 marathon. While Charles-Barclay regrouped after being passed by Crowley to push her way to the finish line for her third-straight runner-up finish in Kona.
Canadian Jen Annett would pull out of the race after being cut off by a media motorcycle early on the bike course, while countrywoman Sue Huse rounded out the women’s pro field after a tough swim.
1. Jan Frodeno (DEU) – 7:51:13
2. Tim O’Donnell (USA) – 7:59:40
3. Sebastian Kienle (DEU) – 8:02:04
4. Ben Hoffman (USA) – 8:02:52
5. Cameron Wurf (AUS) – 8:06:41
1. Anne Haug (DEU) – 8:40:10
2. Lucy Charles-Barclay (GBR) – 8:46:44
3. Sarah Crowley (AUS) – 8:48:13
4. Laura Philipp (DEU) – 8:51:42
5. Heather Jackson (USA) – 8:54:44
Stay tuned for more coverage from the Ironman World Championship.