The men's professional field at the 2023 Ironman Florida featured many of the top names in the sport, all vying for the title on the sunny shores of Panama City Beach. In a standout performance, American Rudy von Berg topped the talented field and etched his name in the record books with an impressive finishing time of 7:34:41.
Von Berg's remarkable time shattered the previous course record of 7:42:52 set by fellow pro Gustav Iden in 2021 by over 8 minutes. Crossing the finish line over 7 minutes later in 7:42:03 was Kacper Stepniak (POL), who turned in an excellent race to secure second place. Rounding out the podium in third was Matthew Marquardt (USA), posting a finishing time of 7:44:27.
The swim got underway at sunrise, with top contenders jockeying for position amongst the rolling swells. A lead pack formed right away, with swimmers like Jesper Svensson, Denis Chevrot, and Dylan Gillespie exiting the water just seconds behind early leader Andrew Horsfall-Turner. Von Berg sat 13th, just 23 seconds back, while pre-race favorite Magnus Ditlev was also in contact.
On the bike, Ditlev powered to the front alongside von Berg by the 33km mark. The duo worked well together, growing their lead to 8 minutes by the halfway point. A chase group formed behind them, featuring Marquardt, Stepniak, Svensson and Chile's Martin Ulloa. However, they couldn't reel in the leaders. Ditlev and von Berg roared into T2 together, primed for a showdown on the run.
Out onto the run course, Ditlev and von Berg quickly separated themselves from the rest of the field. Running shoulder-to-shoulder through the opening miles, von Berg started to edge ahead after 10.5km. He steadily built on his lead, establishing a 1-minute gap over Ditlev by halfway.
Von Berg turned on the afterburners on the back half of the marathon, expanding his lead to 5 minutes. He crushed the run in 2:38:24, the fastest of the day by far. Von Berg cruised to the decisive victory, fulfilling his potential on the Big Stage. His winning time was a phenomenal effort, proving he's a force to be reckoned with.
A compelling battle played out in the women's professional race, with American Skye Moench gutting out a hard-fought victory in 8:22:29. In addition to the win, Moench set a new bike course record of 4:23:09 for the women.
Chasing Moench every step of the way was rookie pro India Lee (GBR), who turned heads with a runner-up finish in 8:31:01 in just her second attempt at the iron-distance. Rounding out the talented women's podium was seasoned racer Jocelyn McCauley (USA) in 8:33:56.
In the water, Lauren Brandon led out of T1 after swimming 53:32 to open up a 2-minute lead on Lee. Moench trailed in a pack at +5 minutes. On the bike, Lee powered to the front, joined by McCauley and Moench to form the lead trio by halfway, ahead by 7 minutes.
Moench, Lee and McCauley charged through the run together early on before Lee made a move at 10.5km. She built an 18 second gap on Moench, who slowly reeled her in over the next 10km. By 20km, Moench had taken control for good.
With experience on her side, Moench gradually pulled away from the tiring Lee over the second half of the marathon. She expanded her lead to over 8 minutes for the victory. Moench's decisive run of 2:54:44 showed she still has the speed that makes her a threat on race day.
Lee's runner-up result was mightily impressive for the 22-year-old Brit. McCauley held strong for third to cap her season with another podium finish.