A new era
For years we’ve been talking about how much ITU athletes moving up to longer distances are going to change the dynamics of Ironman racing, but it’s really been the arrival of Jan Frodeno and Daniela Ryf over the last couple of years before we’ve truly seen the changes. There’s a reason we profiled both champions in our magazine earlier this year – they are the new face of Ironman racing. Defending champion Sebastian Kienle had the best swim of his Ironman career in Kona, coming out of the water 2:30 down, which allowed him to be in the lead by the 50 km point of the ride, but the extra effort he expended to get himself to that position eventually cost him the race – he faded during the latter half of the bike and during the marathon eventually finishing eighth.
While Jodie Swallow enjoyed a lead of about a minute after the swim, it didn’t take long for Ryf to catch up and force the pace on the bike. Heading into the turnaround in Hawi, Ryf simply pulled away from everyone in the field and came off the bike seven minutes ahead of Swallow and never looked back. Ryf had the eighth fastest swim, fastest bike and third fastest run on the day. Frodeno had the second fastest swim, seventh fastest ride and fifth fastest run.
There’s a reason Kienle is working so hard on his swim and run abilities, and why Mirinda Carfrae was coming in to the race in the best swim and bike form of her career (she was unable to show that fitness – see p.60). Unless you are extremely good in all three disciplines you are not going to win this championship anymore.