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Kristian Blummenfelt storms to Ironman 70.3 World Championship

Blummenfelt is now a short course, 70.3 and Ironman world champion

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt won his first 70.3 world title on Saturday, just three weeks after running to third place at the Ironman World Championship. Blummenfelt battled American Ben Kanute for 16 kilometres on the run, but he eventually found another gear and managed to pull away for the win. This is the fourth major title in the past 14 months for Blummenfelt, adding to the Olympic gold medal and WTS world title that he won in 2021 and his Ironman world crown from earlier this year. Blummenfelt took the win in 3:37:12, followed by Kanute in 3:38:01 and Denmark’s Magnus Ditlev in 3:39:52. Canada’s Jackson Laundry used a strong ride and run to earn a seventh-place finish in 3:43:52.

The swim

The swim is usually pretty routine in pro races. A leader or a few leaders establish themselves at the front early on and carry their lead into transition and onto the bike. However, Saturday’s swim was not as routine as usual, as some confusion in the water forced Australia’s Aaron Royle to stop mid-swim. The confusion didn’t last long, and he was soon back in action, but it did give his competitors a chance to close the gap ahead of transition.

Royle exited the water in 22:20, and he entered T1 alongside American Marc Dubrick. Kanute wasn’t far behind, just 13 seconds back, and Blummenfelt found his way out of the water 30 seconds after the leaders. Laundry was two minutes back after the swim, sitting in 32nd place.

Just like in the women’s race on Friday, transition was slower than usual for these pros, as many of them took some extra time to put layers on ahead of their 90K bike ride. This gave athletes who opted not to toss on warmer gear a chance to make up any time they’d lost in the swim, which is exactly what Kanute did, as he leapfrogged Royle and moved into second place behind Dubrick as they started the bike.

The bike

On Friday, American Taylor Knibb started the bike 27 seconds back of the lead. In a matter of minutes, she’d erased that gap and carried on to the win. On Saturday, Blummenfelt started the ride with an almost identical gap, sitting 26 seconds behind Dubrick, and just like Knibb, he found his way into the lead in no time at all. Unlike Knibb, however, Blummenfelt didn’t manage to pull away from the rest of the field. Instead, he worked with a group of five that included Kanute and Ditlev for much of the ride. At the 75K checkpoint, that group was down to four, and by T2, Ditlev, Blummenfelt and Germany’s Frederic Funk had opened up a gap of around half a minute over Kanute.

Further back in the race, Laundry fought his way through the field, and by the 50K mark on the bike, he had climbed into the top 10, eventually passing 2022 Ironman world champion Gustav Iden of Norway. Iden had a rough day, and he faded quite a bit in the latter stages of the ride, quite possibly still feeling the effects of his record-breaking performance in Kona just three weeks earlier. (Iden would end up pulling out of the race in the early stages of the run.)

The run

With a tight group riding into T2, it looked like fans would get quite the show on the run course, and they weren’t disappointed. Blummenfelt was first onto the run course. He started the run with a 30-second lead over Kanute, but at the 3K checkpoint, the American had clawed his way to even with the Norwegian. The two ran together for most of the run, with Ditlev sitting more than a minute back in third. It was clear that the winner would be Blummenfelt or Kanute, but neither made a move for quite some time.

Finally, with just over four kilometres to go, Blummenfelt dropped the hammer and pulled away from Kanute. Kanute tried to stay with the Norwegian, but he couldn’t match his pace, and soon enough, Blummenfelt was comfortably in the lead. He finished the run in 1:11:39 and crossed the line for yet another world title. This is Blummenfelt’s first 70.3 world crown, adding to an already extensive and impressive resume.

Kanute held on for second place, crossing the line less than a minute after Blummenfelt for the second Ironman 70.3 World Championship podium of his career (he also finished in second in 2017). Rounding out the podium was Ditlev, who held off Germany’s Mika Noodt in the closing stages of the run. Laundry finished in an impressive seventh place, posting a time of 3:43:52.