Unless she’s injured or sick, since 2014 we’re not used to seeing Daniela Ryf suffer very much during her races. The four-time Ironman and five-time 70.3 world champ from Switzerland usually puts together a solid swim, and dominating bike and then a solid (and sometimes dominating run) to take win after win, making events somewhat boring. It looked like that’s what we were going to see today at the Ironman North American Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma, too. A few weeks ago Ryf ripped through one of her usual scripts to take the Ironman 70.3 North American Championship in St. George, and seemed primed and ready for another dominating performance.
Which she put on for the first two legs of the race. After finishing the swim 1:20 behind Brazil’s Pamella Oliveira, she quickly went to the front on the bike, bringing Oliveira along for the first 50 km. Then Oliveira faded, leaving Ryf to ride away from the rest of the field. By the time she was done she hit T2 with a lead of 15:29 on American Skye Moench and Great Britain’s Kimberly Morrison, 19:20 on Australian Sarah Crowley, 20:30 on another Brit, Katrina Matthews, and 23:07 on American Heather Jackson.
Out on the run it wasn’t long before it became apparent that Ryf wasn’t showing the form we’re used to seeing. The women behind her were gaining lots of time on the Swiss star throughout the run – by the halfway point Moench was 13:20 behind but it was Matthews who was really making the big move – she’d served her penalty time and was now 14:37 behind.
While Ryf’s lead remained solid, it was clear she was struggling through the last 10 km of the run. She hung tough, though, getting to the line exactly five minutes and one second ahead of Matthews, with Moench another 2:10 back in third. Jackson managed to run her way to fourth, with Spain’s Gurutze Frades Larralde also putting together an impressive run to reach the top five.
“I was glad when the finish line came,” a visibly exhausted Ryf said after the race. “I pushed really hard on the bike and I think I paid for it on the run.”
Canadian pro Angela Naeth pulled out of the race after the bike.
- Daniela Ryf 8:40:34 (52:21/ 4:39:00/ 3:04:55)
- Katrina Matthews 8:45:35 (56:57/ 4:54:48/ 2:49:49)
- Skye Moench 8:47:45 (53:39/ 4:53:04/ 2:56:57)
- Heather Jackson 8:57:58 (1:00:32/ 4:53:56/ 2:59:45)
- Gurutze Frades Larralde 9:02:19 (1:00:42/ 5:03:34/ 2:52:53)