We’re used to seeing draft-legal athletes move up to the half- (and even full-) distance after the Olympics, and Belgium’s Marten van Riel is certainly proving that athletes who do so can quickly become major players in long-distance racing. While it wasn’t van Riel’s first win over the distance – he won Ironman 70.3 Xiamen in 2019, his speedy performance at Ironman 70.3 Dubai today sets him up well for further long-distance success.
On the women’s side of things, defending champion Daniela Ryf’s biggest threat on race day was always going to be Germany’s Laura Philipp (seen above on her way to a fourth-place finish at the Ironman World Championship in 2019), and the German proved to be very much on her game today, running away from the Swiss star to take the women’s win.
van Riel goes 3:26:06
After his stellar 2021 that saw Kristian Blummenfelt take the Olympics, the world championship and Ironman Cozumel in 7:21, Blummenfelt arrived in Dubai as the prohibitive favourite, but in the end wouldn’t ever challenge for the win today.
van Riel led the men out of the water in 22:49, with France’s Pierre Le Corre, Denmark’s Daniel Baekkegard and Switzerland’s Andrea Salvisberg on his feet. Blummenfelt was already well back, finishing the swim in 24 minutes. Once out on the bike van Riel and Baekkegard pulled clear of the rest of the field, opening a gap of 2:23 on Portugal’s Filipe Azevedo by the 45 km point of the ride, with Blummenfelt part of a group almost five minutes behind. By the end of the bike Baekkegard and van Riel were almost six minutes up on Azevedo.
van Riel used his short-course skills to fly through transition and hit the run course first, continuing to pull away with a 1:07:56 run to take the win in 3:26:06. That time was just 46 seconds slower than Blummenfelt’s “world record” set at Ironman 70.3 Bahrain in 2019. Baekkegard would finish second in 3:27:54, with le Corre using a 1:07:37 half-marathon to run his way to the final spot on the podium with a 3:33:01 finish.
Blummenfelt would eventually take 10th in 3:49:07.
You can find results from the men’s race here.
Philipp runs away
Great Britain’s Lottie Lucas raced this event as an age grouper in 2019, but led the pro women out of the water this year in 26:26, with Philipp two seconds back and Ryf another second behind in third. From there, though, the race became a two-woman show, as Ryf and Philipp blasted away from the rest of the field. By 45 km into the bike the two were 3:37 up on Lucas and the gap was up to eight minutes by the time the pair hit T2.
Philipp’s biggest strength has always been her run, and there was no touching her once she left T2. By the 4 km point of the race her lead was already up to 1:36 and by the finish line her 1:19:31 split would earn her a 3:53:03 finish time, just under four-minutes ahead of Ryf (3:56:55). Philipp’s time was also very close to the record-setting 3:52:50 Holly Lawrence posted at Ironman 70.3 Bahrain in 2019, too.
Lucas would round out the women’s podium in 4:07:03.
You can find results from the women’s race here.