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Ironman New Zealand – A First Timers Race Report

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Many people who have been in the sport for years told me that Ironman New Zealand was one of the best Ironman races in the world. Whilst I have only spectated and reported on Ironman races in Australia and Kona this was the best one I have been to for a few reasons.

One is that I was racing my first Ironman. This could have made me slightly biased.

There of New Zealand's triathlon greats started the run together. Bevan Docherty, Terenzo Bozzone and Cameron Brown. Photo: Sophie Hayes

Three of New Zealand’s triathlon greats started the run together. Bevan Docherty, Terenzo Bozzone and Cameron Brown. Photo: Sophie Hayes

But if I step away from this fact and look at what makes an Ironman so great it still stacks up. The swim was in a lake that looks like an ocean the first time you see it. It is almost as big as Singapore in area (616 sq km compared to Singapore’s 716 sq km) and on race day in 2014 it was as smooth as a ‘lake’. The next great thing is that the water is crystal clear and you can even have a few mouthfuls while swimming to keep hydrated. And the crowds. They are everywhere. More supporters than I have seen at any Ironman before. On the bike course and run course they were everywhere. They never stopped cheering all day. There was nowhere in the race where you felt you were on your own. I know there are a couple of big races in Europe that attract massive crowds but I am talking about races in our region.

With my minimal approach to training the instructions from my coaches Spot Anderson and Deb Hazeldon of Bondi Fit was to take the entire race easy and make sure my heart rate was low. Through Trizone I have come in to touch with so many people who have let training for Ironman take over their lives. I used to look at the training that people were doing and could see that many age groupers were doing similar hours to some of the top pros. I wanted to enjoy the whole Ironman journey.

I have been lucky enough to be able to spend some time with Pete Jacobs on many occasions over the years either as Trizone or as the person that has rebuilt his website a couple of times or even as his ride back from Forster once. The one thing I have always heard from Pete, as many of you have, is to train to feel and make sure you are recovering and resting well. So with this in mind my plan was to have a life while training for my first Ironman. I was not chasing a Kona spot or a PB so there was no pressure. Of course there were plenty of people telling me I was going to do this time and that time. All much faster than what I had planned.

To put it simply I did one 2km open water swim a week in Wollongong Harbour with Alex Price’s AP10 squad. I went to Sydney once a week for the three weeks leading up to Ironman New Zealand to do a pool swim squad with Bondi Fit just to make sure I could do 4kms and as much as it pained Spot to acknowledge it I passed the test. He never said so but there was a faint smile as I dropped Reidy in the 20 or so 100s we did in one session. Sorry Reidy, but it makes my story sound better. I’ll leave the 50s swim off story for another day.

My bike training consisted of one long ride per week with the maximum distance being 156kms. I did my first ride over 100kms on Nov 24 and then didn’t do another ride over 100kms until Dec 26. I did a couple of  80-90km rides each week during December. My first proper long ride of around 140kms was on Jan 1st just 8 weeks before IMNZ. I then did one long ride a week during January. I was working 7 days a week in my new shop so going for long rides was proving difficult. Luckily my main employee David Mainwaring offered to open on Wednesdays and hold the fort which took the pressure off me having to open the shop and I managed to get a 140-150km ride in each week.

My run training started on January 6 with a very, very slow 10km run after having two months out with an achilles injury. In total I did 5 long runs of 17-23kms. I also did another 3 10km runs and a final 13km run with Spot and Deb 12 days before IMNZ.

I did do one serious day of training the Sunday after I did Challenge Melbourne with good mate Josh Henry in Nowra. This consisted of a 2:15 bike, 30min run, 1:00 bike, 30min run, 1:00 bike and a final 30min run. It was a tough and hot day with the temperature in the late 30s. All the running was done at a very slow pace as my Achilles was still giving me grief.

A fairly minimal training program to say the least but that was the plan. I never trained the day after a big session. The other thing I did well was sleep. I made sure I was getting 7-8 hours a night. I have an awesome memory foam mattresses from Ergoflex. These mattresses are amazing. They are hard to describe except to say that they are like one of those dream beds in a nice hotel that you wish you could take home. They are not overly expensive and you can buy them direct from Ergoflex for around the $900 mark depending on size.

On to IMNZ. I started the swim to the extreme left where there were mainly the people who were more intent on keeping away from the mayhem that goes on in a mass swim start. This worked perfectly. I had clear water for about 1km until I slowly moved in to the swim line. At the half way point I stopped and took a gel which I had slipped in to the back of my wetsuit. This was the other aspect of the day that I was not going to get wrong. Nutrition. Darryll Griffiths from Shotz Nutrition had given me a good plan and I knew from my race in Melbourne at the beginning or February that it should work.

Swim start IMNZ 2014 - Photo: Stef Hansen Australian Triathlete

Swim start IMNZ 2014 – Photo: Stef Hansen from Australian Triathlete Magazine

With about 500m to go in the swim I had clear water and was just cruising along. At this point someone started to tap on my feet and then on the back of my legs. I don’t mind people tapping on my feet but when they are almost on top of your legs it gets a bit annoying. So I stopped for a second to let them swim past. Big mistake. The reason I had clear water was that I had a line of about 20 people sitting on me. Then I spent the last 500m in a swim brawl with everyone trying to swim within a 3sqm area.

The run to transition was more like a hike but everyone had to do it so what did it matter! The crowds that lined the run to transition made it seem a lot easier. This was to be a pattern for the day. The crowds I mean. No matter where you were on the course the were crowds of supporters cheering you on. Keeping with my low heart rate strategy I mostly walked to transition and just let everyone else pass me as I enjoyed the moment.

T1 was my first experience of an Ironman change tent. I swum in togs, budgie smugglers, speedos, whatever you want to call them under my wetsuit. I had never ridden 180kms before so I wanted to make sure that I did not come off the bike with rashes that were going to bother me on the run. So with this in mind I wanted to ride in my cycling gear that I had always used on my long training rides (which maxed out at 156km). My T1 took forever and finally after 9mins I was out on to the bike course. On the bike I wanted to keep my heart rate as close to 140bpm as possible for the first 10kms. I am sure I was passed by half the field in those first 10kms as I gently cycled away from Taupo. I chatted for a bit with a few competitors and rode with Kristy from HPT for a bit at the start. Kristy had a great race by the looks of it.

I was told by many that the bike course in New Zealand was tough. A bit of undulation, a couple of decent hills and apparently the road surface was rough. I found the hills, a bit of head wind but never found the legendary rough road surface. It was no where near as bad as the straights at Port Macquarie and the road between Nowra and Braidwood on the South Coast of New South Wales that I did all my training on was rougher. I was happy with what I found in Taupo.

My coach Deb caught me at about 8kms so I decided that if I rode with her for the bike that would give me the pace that I was looking for. It was great to be able to ride with someone you knew in another country. Although, we are both Kiwis so it really wasn’t another country. We ended up in a pace line that stayed together for around 135kms until the final turnaround. I still had plently of energy to burn so I decided to try and put some time in to Deb as I knew at the pace I was planning on running she was going to kick by butt on the run. Most of the guys that had been riding with us had been pushing the limit so they slowly dropped off as the pace picked up in to a head wind and uphill on the way home.

I passed 156km and then was riding in to uncharted territory. I wondered what it would be like when I finished the 180kms. I felt great though and my heart rate was staying between 145 and 160bpm which is very low for me. Over shorter distances I would normally be in the 170-180 vicinity. I ended up leaving a couple of gels out as I just did not feel like I needed them all.

Out on the bike at IMNZ 2014

Out on the bike at IMNZ 2014

Right throughout the bike course there were crowds of people at every intersection in the countryside and at the far turnaround. There were campervans , cars and people that looked like veterans supporters. It was like no Ironman I had been to in Australia. It is something you have to experience to see what I mean.

I came in to T2 and my legs felt fine. The first few steps were a bit wobbly but by the time I had grabbed my bag I was good to go. In the tent I changed in to my Skinfit two piece trisuit. I went for this because the pants are unbelievable to run in. They have a decent pocket at the back and are silky smooth. I have never had any rubbing in them. The Skinfit top also has a couple of great pockets. I put my shoes and new socks on, then realised I had forgotten to put my vaseline on. So off they came. I was in no rush so it didn’t bother me. I grabbed all my stuff. I took a full cap instead of a peak so I could put ice in it to keep my temp down on the run. This is something I do on all hot long runs and find it helps considerably. Alex Price from AP10 wrote a great piece on keeping your body cool in hotter races. Read it here. I follow it now and what a difference!

One more ‘stop’ before I left the transition then as I turned left out of the tent I discovered the buffet at the aid station in the bike area. There were chocolate chip cookies, chippies, pretzels, lollies, coke all laid out on these tables. I suppose IMNZ was celebrating its 30th birthday so why not put on a birthday spread. After taking advantage of this bounty I headed out on to the run. I ran at 5:50 for the first couple of kms until I felt comfortable then settled in to a 5:30 run pace that I planned to do for the marathon. The only flaw to this plan was that my other strategy was to run very slow with small steps up each hill so I wouldn’t overload my achilles and possibly blow it up. The flaw in this plan was that there were numerous hills on each of the three 14km laps. This took some of the wind out of my rhythm. I also bumped in to a couple of people I hadn’t seen for a while. Unfortunately they were both walking so I felt obliged to stop and have a catch up. I was in no rush so why not.

The crowds on the run course were unbelievable. The Kiwis and in particular the people of Taupo certainly knew how to throw a party and make the event as memorable as possible for the athletes.

I saw the 30km sign come up and felt great but wondered if I was going to hit some mysterious wall. I didn’t and just kept turning my legs over with small steps but a higher cadence. At no time in the run did I hit the wall. In hind sight I wouldn’t have taken the nutrition belt with four bottles. I just wasn’t burning enough fuel to really need it. The on course electrolyte probably would have been sufficient.

Knowing that there were my favourite New Zealand chocloate chip cookies at each aid station I made sure I grabbed one each time. Not sure Mr Giffiths would approve but I was doing my first Ironman and having a ball. Mr Giffins would have been happy.

A warm welcome! What a great experience.

A warm welcome! What a great experience.

In the final two kms on the run I happened upon Gordon Bell, one half or the brains trust behind the Nepean Triathlon. We chatted for a bit and got Gordon running again as he tried to get rid of the cramps that he was struggling with. He then started to surge on me with a km to go. What was he thinking? Then cramps took over again and we finished our own races.

It was great to have so much support from friends and family during the race especially on the run. I had my family from Australia and New Zealand there. I think they were more excited about the whole thing than I was.

I pulled up well the next day with no stiffness in my legs and was walking fine. That was until I got stung by a bee under the foot which then proceeded to swell up and I could hardly walk.

For the record I swum 1:06, T1 9min, bike 5:37, T2 8min then a 4:17 run. As I said it was a cruisy day with the plan to take away a wonderful memory.

Over the next week I did the Illawarra Triathlon Clubs aquathon on the Wednesday night, the Kembla Joggers Cross Country on the Saturday (which my business sponsors) and the Olympic distance triathlon in Wollongong on the Sunday. The sole aim of this race was to beat my coach. Coach Deb did the Wollongong triathlon as did Tony Golden who was also in New Zealand racing the Ironman. Time for us all to take a chill pill I think.

Anyway nothing is going to happen over the next couple of weeks then it will be a focus on Port Stephens Olympic distance in May to battle it out again.

A huge thanks to Ironman New Zealand for giving me the opportunity to experience my first ever Ironman on home soil.

Mizuno for some great running shoes. Their new range is one of the biggest sellers in my shop now. Because we let all of our clients test run before they buy the Mizuno’s are selling themselves.

I love training with Bondi Fit when I can. Coaches Spot Anderson and Deb Hazeldon have been great to work with. Not sure they would say the same the about me. I am not sure I am an ideal athlete to coach. But they give it a good crack.

I still love my Cell Bike TT. I have had 6 bikes from Cell now and never had a problem. Their latest top end road bike is pretty damn good and getting some good reviews. The engine on the bike is the biggest thing.

I firmly believe that my Huub Archimedes wetsuit is the main reason why I swim better than I should based on my training. I have been swimming in them for a couple of years now and I always come away with a better time in races than I really should. I think that annoys Spot a bit.

Finally Shotz Nutrition is another reason why I come through my races in much better shape than I really should. I competed in Melbourne at the start of Feb and off two long runs, cruised the race. I firmly believe that my nutrition plan, which is very simple, sees me come out better than expected.

Until next year when I will attempt to go faster…

 

 

Karl is a keen age group triathlete who races more than he trains. Good life balance! Karl works in the media industry in Australia and is passionate about the sport of triathlon.

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Noosa: Jake Montgomery Finally Makes His Debut

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Celebrating its 35th birthday the Noosa Triathlon will be in party mode, but the very courageous Gold Coast based professional Jake Montgomery will be the one with the biggest smile, as he finally celebrates his long-awaited debut in Australia’s greatest triathlon.

“I planned on doing Noosa for the past four years, but unfortunately I have never made it to the start line,” Jake said with a casual comment that masks several horror years of extreme courage, immense pain, hardship and the rebuilding of both body and mind.

A handy runner and swimmer at school it was his first swim coach, Mick Maroney that convinced him to have a crack at triathlon. With year 12 behind him, young Jake headed over to Vitoria-Gasteiz in Spain with Jamie Turner’s squad to learn about the draft legal world of ITU Continental Cup, before eventually finding long course racing. With the help of Aussie IRONMAN legend Craig Alexander, in 2015 Jake threw himself in the deep end and headed to Boulder to continue his triathlon education on the US circuit.

“I spent three months in the US. I did a lot of training with Crowie, and he taught me the ins and outs of 70.3. He knows every aspect of it, and I was surprised how much he taught me and all the tips and tricks he gave me.”

A fifth at IRONMAN 70.3 Port Macquarie, second in 70.3 Mandurah and Western Sydney proved that the hard work was paying off, but it was IRONMAN 70.3 in Geelong where Jake finally got the result he was looking really.

“I was getting closer, and I was pretty determined to break through, and that is when I raced Geelong in February 2016 and had my first win at the National Championship. With the win at Geelong being at the National titles a lot of the sponsors came onboard, and it got pretty full on.”

Only Slowing Jake Down

Two weeks later Jake’s world was flipped upside down when he was hit by a garbage truck only 500m from home while riding back from the pool. His bike and right foot went underneath the rear wheels, and he ruptured two ligaments in his right ankle. With the pain, Jake thought he had broken his shin and that it was snapped in half and remembers picking up his leg to see if it was still straight.

Four weeks in a hospital, two weeks in a boot and Jake was given the okay to start back again…slowly. Following the doctor’s orders to the letter by May 2016, he was again headed Stateside and trying to make up lost ground in his quest to race the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships on the Sunshine Coast. Returning to Australia Jake was in the form of his life, but in a cruel twist of fate, only 16 hours before the event his world was again thrown into chaos.

“I was doing the final spin to see that the bike was ready to race in the morning. I remember every minute of the morning, lunch and getting the bike ready and then rolling out over Alexandra Headland and that is about it. I remember the first minutes of the ride, and then I got hit by the car and things flipped upside down. I have a month missing after that. It wasn’t until weeks later that I looked at my Garmin to see that the incident happened about 20 minutes into the ride. When I went from 40kmh to zero km/h.”

“I don’t have any recollection of hospital time, and when I got back home, I was just sitting in the lounge. It was all I was doing through the day. I had a fractured sternum and shoulder and several muscle tears through the neck and shoulders, and there was also brain bleeding and swelling in three different spots. The fractures are a six-week heal, but the Neurologist said he didn’t think I would be running again. He said we would give it four months, and you can try if you are desperate, but he wasn’t recommending that I try again. That wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear, and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else at that stage of my life, so I was going to try my hardest to get back to running or at least give it a go.”

“I was seeing speech therapists and occupational therapists and all the doctors. In the first session with the speech therapist, she came in, and she was quite shocked. She said, ‘Oh, you can talk.’ My speech wasn’t great, and my sentences were really jumbled and stop-start for the first couple of months. She said from what I have read happened to your brain, on paper, you shouldn’t be able to talk. So that was pretty scary to hear that I got that lucky.”

“I went through some pretty dark spots early on, where going to the kitchen was the most I could do all day. Going from 25 hours of training a week to zero was a bit of a shock and knowing that running might never happen again, I was pretty depressed at that stage and had pretty bad thoughts. I was lucky that I had my parents by my side the whole time, looking after me and helping me through it all. Without them, things would have been a lot different.”

For eight weeks Jake did nothing but then he embarked on another program to rebuild his body and confidence in the hope that he would one day get back to competing in the sport that he loved. Initially, it was the hydro pool to rebuild his strength, then a five-minute walk became a two and a half hour walk and eventually he was on a stationary trainer building up week by week. Four months after the incident his training miraculously started in earnest when he was able to run, ride and swim properly again.

Back racing in Geelong

IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong in February 2017 was his comeback race, and a fifth place in a strong field was the boost he needed. Similar results at IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder and Santa Cruz have helped rebuild his confidence and reboot his career and now Jake is determined to use the Noosa Triathlon as final hit out before IRONMAN 70.3 Western Sydney Asia Pacific Championships in November.

“After Santa Cruz, I made it to Vegas for a sponsorship commitment for Cervelo then took two weeks recovery and let the body reset. As soon as I got home, I got back into training and now have my eyes set on Noosa. I am looking forward to the draft free bike. Racing for half the time as a 70.3 I will be able to push 100 percent and see how long the body can last for. It will be a bit of fun.”

“Noosa is probably the most stacked race in Australia and the organisers put up a good prizemoney, so it encourages all the professionals in Australia to toe the line and have a crack. It is only a two and half hour drive for me so that is just nice and no plane flight required which is a bonus. Noosa will be a nice hit out and the perfect opportunity to use a bit of speed and see how the body comes down from the altitude.”

“I have spoken to plenty of people who have done it before and they love the race and the whole atmosphere of the weekend. I have heard that it is crazy busy but pretty good at the same time. So, I am looking forward to getting up there and getting amongst it,” he said with anticipation.

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Noosa Triathlon: The Big Guns Will Be In Town To Celebrate

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The 35th Noosa Triathlon Multi Sport Festival is shaping up to be the biggest yet, with the who’s who of Australian sport and some of the nation’s most recognisable faces heading to the Sunshine Coast to join in the birthday celebrations.

The five-day festival (1-5 November) features an ocean swim, a fun run, the Charity Golf Day and elite cycling and running events and culminates on Sunday 5 November with the Noosa Triathlon hosting more than 8,500 competitors, making it the world’s largest standard distance triathlon.

Headlining the Noosa Triathlon are key athletes from Australia’s Commonwealth Games triathlon team for 2018, Ashleigh Gentle and Jake Birtwhistle, defending champion Dan Wilson, plus Commonwealth Games hopefuls Aaron Royle, Ryan Bailie, Gillian Backhouse and Luke Willian.

The long-distance world is also well represented with Sarah Crowley fresh from her podium at the IRONMAN World Championships, IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Champion Josh Amberger, Jake Montgomery making his long-awaited Noosa debut, Liz Blatchford in her first race back as a new mum and two time World Duathlon Champion Felicity Sheedy-Ryan mixing it up with a swim.

Defending champ Ashleigh Gentle is shooting for Noosa title #5, and Dan Wilson is hoping to go back to back this year, but they are fully aware of the strength of the field assembled for the 35th anniversary year.

Four-time champ, Ashleigh Gentle has developed a real affinity with the Noosa over many years, and she can’t wait to get back this year.

“I’ve raced six times, and been up a couple more on top of that to watch and be part of the festival. I love the atmosphere. I love Queensland, and it is very special to come back to the race each year after spending so much time abroad. I love seeing familiar faces and being surrounded by so many other people who love triathlon. Noosa has always been really important to me. It’s the one I look forward to the most. I obviously want to do well, but there is a lot less pressure than the intensity of World Series races.”

“I would love to defend my title. I’m sure as always it will be a competitive field, but I’m looking forward to getting out there and going hard. Noosa Triathlon has been a big part of my career, and I am thrilled I can be a part of this milestone, although it only feels like yesterday we were celebrating the 30th year of Noosa,” she recalled.

Dan Wilson is a Noosa veteran, and he is hoping he can revisit the form that saw him dominate in 2016 and go out on a high note.

“I think this is around my 10th Noosa. I first came here in 2003 as a little junior. I’ve missed a few through injuries along the way, but always come back when I’m able. It is a bastion of Australia triathlon, and it is a ripping location, it is one of the ‘funnest’ races on tour. What more could you need?”

“I would obviously love to repeat last year’s result, but it also looks like it will probably be the best field we’ve ever seen at Noosa, so it’s going to be a tough ask. Noosa is always a special race, it is usually at or near the end of the season, so everyone is looking to finish the season strong at a fun race.”

“This year, Noosa will be even more special, I’m hanging up the suit at the end of this year, so it’ll be the last chance to go round at Noosa, and one of my last races ever, so I’m looking forward to really savouring the weekend,” Wilson said.

Aussie Olympian and two time Noosa champ Aaron Royle is pumped up and glad to back in Noosa looking attempting to keep his perfect Noosa record intact.

“I’ve raced Noosa twice and had two good wins there, which has been fantastic for myself in my career. I guess because of that, and the expectation to go there and win is greater with each year. I want to win again to make it three from three races, but that is always easier said than done. I’m sure there will be a handful of others saying that they also want to win.”

“I knew of the Noosa triathlon before I knew what triathlon really was, and certainly before I followed the sport. I think it was Channel 7 showing it back in the day and I remember thinking this looks pretty cool (before I even contemplated doing one myself).”

“For me, Noosa always signifies the end of my racing season, but with a race of this significances, I’ve never struggled to find motivation for this race. It’s the biggest domestic race on the calendar with so many legendary winners that have gone before, so it is easy to see why so many top-level athletes turn up each year,” Aaron said.

IRONMAN 70.3 specialist Jake Montgomery might be a Noosa debutante this year, but he is well aware of Noosa’s legendary status.

“I’ve been meaning to race Noosa for a few year’s now but have never been able to toe the line. I went there once a few years back for surfing but have never experienced the triathlon weekend.”

“Noosa is definitely the pinnacle race in Australia and one that everyone loves to put on their calendar. Not necessarily just the race but the whole weekend of event and atmosphere make it a must for many. Having not raced anything shorter than a 70.3 for the past three years it will be interesting to see how my body handles the faster racing and pushing myself over the shorter distance. I am mostly looking forward to the swim, any race with a beach start and ocean swim is a must for me.”

“Nearing the end of a hard year it will be a good hit out to finish off. While it’s still a competitive race, it will also be a lot of fun catching up with friends, sponsors and watching the other events before the triathlon. Being one of Australia’s oldest triathlons, it is now also the biggest in the country with sold out entries and days of multisport events. It attracts some of the best athletes in the world and organisers of the event have the weekend dialled in,” Jake said.

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Ironman World Championship: Europeans Dominate and Records Fall

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Daniela Ryf of Switzerland celebrates after winning the IRONMAN World Championship on October 14, 2017 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

European dominance of the IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona has continued but not as the pre-race script had been written.

While Switzerland’s “Angry Bird” Daniela Ryf made it three Kona victories, it was not defending champion Jan Frodeno’s day, with the men’s championship title transferring to fellow countryman Patrick Lange.

Coming from a nine-minute deficit off the bike, Lange revelled in near perfect conditions to write himself into the IRONMAN history books to destroy the course record set in 2011 by Australian Craig Alexander, with a 2:39:59 marathon that helped deliver a total race time of 8:01:40.

In a record-breaking day, Aussie Cameron Wurf won the battle of the bikers taking control of the race at the 110km mark and leading into the bike/run transition to set a new bike course record of 4:12:54, more than five minutes faster than Normann Stadler’s 2006 record.

Wurf surrendered his lead early on in the run, as Lionel Sanders (CAN and Sebastian Kienle (GER) made their presence felt, but very quickly all eyes turned to a charging Patrick Lange who had moved into third at 21km of the marathon intent on reducing the six-minute deficit to the leading Sanders.

Lange was on a mission and keen to improve on his third place last year and with 5km to go on the run he flew past Sanders, heading for town and the adoring crowd lining the run course and the finish line on Ali’i Drive.

“It’s everything I ever dreamed of. Oh, my god, I cannot believe it,” Lange said. “I always, always, always since I was a child dreamed of having this crown. From time to time you think someone is hitting with a baseball beneath your knees and you just want to drop out. I had to fight, I had to fight so hard,” Lange said at the finish line.

A fading Sanders managed to hold off the hard-charging David McNamee (GBR) for second with Kienle and James Cunnama (ZAF) crossing the finish to take fourth and fifth.

Swiss miss Daniela Ryf joined an exclusive club at the IRONMAN World Championships, recording her third win in Kona with a very skilful and strategic victory that while remarkably effective, lacked her usual flair and total dominance.

Ryf didn’t have it all her way, with Lucy Charles dominating the swim and majority of the bike before Ryf decided that enough was enough. Ryf wrestled the lead off the Brit and charged home with the fastest run of the day, putting a nine-minute gap to her chasers by the end of the 42.2km run.

“It was the hardest I had to ever fight for the win. I’m so happy to turn it around today,” a more emotional than usual Ryf said at the finish line.

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Ironman World Championship: Patrick Lange Smashes Course Record and Daniela Ryf Earns Third Straight Win

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Daniela Ryf of Switzerland celebrates after winning the IRONMAN World Championship. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Patrick Lange (DEU) and Daniela Ryf (CHE) earned championship titles with momentous performances today at the 2017 IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i. Lange passed Lionel Sanders (CAN) in the final three miles, clocking in at 8:01:40 and establishing a new course record (formerly 8:03:56 by Craig Alexander, 2011). Ryf earned her third consecutive crown with a time of 8:50:47, joining an exclusive “three-peat” winners’ circle alongside the newest IRONMAN Hall of Fame inductee Chrissie Wellington and Natascha Badmann, Dave Scott, Paula Newby-Fraser and Mark Allen. Over 2,350 athletes from 66 countries, regions and territories on six continents started the IRONMAN World Championship race on the Island of Hawai`i in the toughest one-day endurance event in the world.

Patrick Lange of Germany putting the hurt on as he runs to victory and a new course record during the IRONMAN World Championship. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Lange, who raced in only his fourth IRONMAN to-date, had an incredible ascension after having been 17th out of the swim in today’s race. Shortly after the swim, a pack of strong cyclists including Sanders, Sebastian Kienle (GER) and Cameron Wurf (AUS) broke away from the group. Wurf would sail into T2, shattering the 2006 bike course record held by Normann Stadler (4:18:23) with a 4:12:54 split. Sanders and Kienle also smashed the record with 4:14:19 and 4:14:57 split times, respectively. On the run, Sanders took a quick lead as Kienle fell into second. Meanwhile, Lange moved from 11th place to a steady third-place position by the half-marathon marker. Lange then made a decisive pass at mile 23 on the run, as he moved ahead of Sanders to take a hold of the lead, finishing strong in first place. With a 2:39:59 run split, he was only 14 seconds away from breaking the run course record he set last year (2:39:45).

Sanders hung on for second place, ultimately concluding his race with a time of 8:04:07. David McNamee (GBR), Kienle and James Cunnama (ZAF) rounded out the top five.

McNamee had the second fastest run split of the race with 2:45:30, helping him clinch a third-place podium finish by more than two minutes ahead of Kienle.

Defending champion and Olympic Gold Medalist Jan Frodeno dug deep after back spasms slowed him first to a complete stop and then run/walk pace, mustering enough strength to finish the race.

Lucy Charles (GBR) led the professional women out of the water with a 48:48 split, missing the course record by only five seconds. After a speedy transition, Charles took the lead on the bike and had an approximately a five-and-a-half-minute lead over defending champ Daniela Ryf (CHE), Sarah Crowley (AUS) and Annabel Luxford (AUS). This pace remained consistent down the Queen Ka`ahumanu Highway until Ryf attacked, making up over five minutes over the final 25 miles of the bike, which positioned her at the front of the pack. Ryf then greatly extended her lead on the run, with Charles, Crowley and Heather Jackson (USA), fighting for the remaining podium positions.

Lucy Charles of Great Britain cools down during the IRONMAN World Championship on October 14, 2017 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Ryf took first at 8:50:47, almost exactly four minutes off of her own 2016 course record time of 8:46:46. Calling on her epic running abilities, the Swiss star claimed her third successive IRONMAN World Championship victory.

Charles, a Kona rookie, maintained her second-place position throughout most of the run and ultimately to the finish. Crowley rounded out the top three in her second-ever appearance at the IRONMAN World Championship, finishing her race exactly two minutes behind Charles. Jackson and Kaisa Sali (FIN) rounded out the top five women.

 

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Ironman World Championship: The Best Run Images from Kona 2017

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It’s never an easy day out when racing any Ironman race let alone the World Championship. Then add in some hot and humid weather and you really have a very tough set of conditions.

Here are some of the amazing images that were captured during today’s race.

Lucy Charles trying to remain as cool as possible during the run leg. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Lionel Sanders of Canada runs through an aid station and takes on extra fluids and also trying to cool himself. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Patrick Lange of Germany celebrates before crossing the finish line to win the IRONMAN World Championship and setting a course record of 8:01.39 beating Craig Alexander’s 2011 record of 8:03.56. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Age group athletes out on the run course. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

John Joseph McGowan of the United States showing us his guns and ink work. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Unfortunately Jan Frodeno of Germany wasn’t able to really defend his title today due to an injury. He eventually finishes 35th. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

The sun sets on Kailua Kona, Hawaii and competitors continue their journey for their personal success. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Daniela Ryf nearly the final few kilometres during the Ironman World Championship 2017, (Photo: Jesper Gronnemark/Red Bull Content Pool)

Kaisa Sali of Finland celebrates in the finish chute after finishing fifth during the IRONMAN World Championship. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Patrick Lange of Germany putting the hurt on as he runs to victory and a new course record during the IRONMAN World Championship. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Runners compete as the sun sets in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Lucy Charles of Great Britain runs through the barren landscape and eventually to coming 2nd. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

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Ironman World Championship: The Best Bike Images from Kona 2017

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With the backdrop of the most infamous course in the world, the Ironman World Championship bike course never misses by the providing the most amazing landscapes for the bike course. This year was nothing short of spectacular.

Igor Amorelli of Brazil on the bike during the IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Martin Fredriksson of Sweden leads a pack on the bike during the IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Michael Weiss of Austria feeling the hurt during the bike leg. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Jocelyn Mccauley of the United States competes on the bike during the IRONMAN World Championship on October 14, 2017 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

A cyclist leaves the transition area with her bike during the IRONMAN World Championship on October 14, 2017 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. (Photo by Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

KAILUA KONA, HI – OCTOBER 14: A cyclist competes during the IRONMAN World Championship on October 14, 2017 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Lucy Charles of Great Britain showed how strong her bike leg was during today’s Ironman World Championship. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Thomas Gentry McGrath of the United States cools down with water during today’s World Championship in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Michelle Alexander from Denver holds up an ‘IRONMAN are sexy’ sign as athletes cycle past. She certainly brought some smiles. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Cameron Wurf of Australia cycles ahead of Lionel Sanders of Canada during the bike leg of today’s IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. Cameron would go on to set a new bike course record. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

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