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Gustav Iden wins Ironman World Championship with massive course record

All three top men beat the previous course record, with Iden taking the win in 7:40:24

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

The pro men in Kona clearly felt the need to put on a show after seeing how exciting the women’s race was on Thursday, because they provided a thrilling eight hours of racing. From a massive lead group in the swim to a record-setting bike and a thrilling run, this race had it all. A number of men could have won today, but in the end, Norway’s Gustav Iden was first across the line in a new course record of 7:40:24.  Sam Laidlow of France finished in second in 7:42:24, and Iden’s compatriot, 2021 Ironman world champion Kristian Blummenfelt, rounded out the podium in 7:43:23 . Like newly-crowned women’s world champ Chelsea Sodaro, this was Iden’s first time racing in Kona.

The swim

Saturday’s swim was perhaps the most competitive it’s ever been. Germany’s Florian Angert exited the water first in 48:15, but his lead was incredibly slim, with a long line of men following him into T1. There were a whopping 19 men in the first group in transition, and only 15 seconds separated them all. Lionel Sanders exited the water in 47th position, 4:42 behind Angert and co. While he had a lot of work to do to catch the leaders, he wasn’t far behind strong cyclists like Sebastian Kienle and Kona bike course record holder Cam Wurf, two men who, like Sanders, have ridden through the field in many Ironman races.

Florian Angert leads the men’s pro race. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

The bike

Coming out of T1, Sweden’s Jesper Svensson and Australian Max Neumann took the lead. Pre-race favourites Blummenfelt and Iden weren’t far behind, both under 20 seconds back. It didn’t take long for Neumann to pull away from the field, joined by Laidlow, and the pair spent the first third of the ride at the front of the race. Of course, no lead is safe in such a long race, and by the 80K mark, Magnus Ditlev of Denmark had flown into first place. Fifteen kilometres later, the top five consisted of Laidlow, Ditlev, Neumann, Blummenfelt and Iden, all within 14 seconds of one another.

It was at this point that Laidlow decided to make a move, dropping the hammer and pulling away from the rest of the group. The Frenchman’s lead grew and grew throughout the rest of the ride, and by the time he entered T2, he had a five-minute gap over Ditlev and a more than six-minute advantage over Iden, Blummenfelt and Neumann. Laidlow’s bike split of 4:04:36 not only gave him a significant head start as he moved onto the run, but it also smashed the previous course record of 4:09:06.

Laidlow rode to a Kona bike course record of 4:04:36. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

A few minutes after the first chase group passed through T2, Wurf, Kienle and American Tim O’Donnell were off their bikes and onto the run, all with about a nine-minute gap to overcome. Sanders arrived in T2 seven minutes after that, and while he lost significant time to the leaders throughout the entire ride, he did manage to climb from 47th place to 19th by the time he started the run.

The run

Unfortunately for Ditlev, he had to serve a five-minute penalty before T2, giving Iden, Blummenfelt and Neumann the chance to start the run ahead of him. With so much time lost to Laidlow on the bike, those three men wasted no time getting the chase underway on the run, and after just 5K, they’d shaved a minute off of the Frenchman’s lead. Neumann made an effort to stay with the two Norwegians, but their pace was too fast for him, and he dropped back to run on his own.

Iden and Laidlow celebrate at the finish. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

At the half-marathon checkpoint, Laidlow was still running well, and Iden and Blummenfelt were still three minutes back. For a few kilometres, it looked like Laidlow might be able to hold on, but then Iden kicked into another gear. He dropped Blummenfelt at 28K, then started taking massive chunks out of Laidlow’s lead every couple of kilometres. At 33K, the lead was 59 seconds, and then, just 1.2K later, Iden was only 23 seconds back.

There was no denying Iden the win, and he cruised to the finish line in 7:40:24. This smashed Jan Frodeno‘s course record of 7:51:13 from 2019, and he also beat Patrick Lange‘s run course record with a final marathon split of 2:36:15. Just two minutes later, Laidlow traced Iden’s footsteps down the finishing chute to secure second place. Blummenfelt rolled in a minute after that, claiming the final spot on the podium. The top four men (Neumann finished in fourth in 7:44:44) crushed the previous course record, and, like Iden, Blummenfelt also broke the previous marathon record, with a time of 2:39:21.

Top 10 results:

  1. Gustav Iden – 7:40:24
  2. Sam Laidlow – 7:42:24
  3. Kristian Blummenfelt – 7:43:23
  4. Max Neumann – 7:44:44
  5. Joe Skipper – 7:54:05
  6. Sebastian Kienle – 7:55:40
  7. Leon Chevalier – 7:55:52
  8. Magnus Ditlev – 7:56:38
  9. Clement Mignon – 7:56:58
  10. Patrick Lange – 7:58:20