The Ironman World Championship field of favourites is supposed to be settled by July. The contenders typically hit some one of the majors – more often than not either the Ironman European Championship in Frankfurt or Challenge Roth – and announce their fitness and readiness to be up at the front in Kona a few months later. Mirinda Carfrae played the game, running a 2:49 marathon and setting a new course record at Ironman Austria. Sebastian Kienle came through, too, thanks to an impressive race in Frankfurt where he ran away from his competition after pushing them to their limits on the bike. Mel Hauschildt did the same in Frankfurt, showing that she’s finally getting over her long string of injuries and should arrive in Kona as a legitimate contender, too. It’s the defending champions, though, who seem to have no interest in giving us the typical Kona build-up. Don’t get me wrong – I am not implying that they aren’t fit and fast. Jan Frodeno shattered the world-best time with his 7:35:39 in Roth. After having to pull out with hypothermia in Frankfurt two weeks earlier, Daniela Ryf was simply outrageous as she set a new bike course record in Roth by 10 minutes (that would be Chrissie Wellington’s course record) before cruising through a 2:57 marathon to post the third-fastest full-distance time in history. If you had seen her dance across the finish line in Roth you would have been as assured as I was that the world record was totally within her grasp on that day – but thanks to orders from her coach Brett Sutton to have a “fun day of swimming, biking and running” she didn’t have either a watch to keep splits or the desire to push after Wellington’s world-best time.
Since she pulled out of Frankfurt, Ryf had to validate her Kona slot in Switzerland where she set a new course record. Before that race, though, Ryf made it abundantly clear that if things didn’t work out and she didn’t end up in Kona, she wouldn’t be upset.
And what’s really scary is that she meant it. According to Sutton’s blog posts, Ryf had arrived at his training group burnt out from the sport two years ago. Now the goal is for her to regain her love of the sport. That’s got to be a bit easier when you’re the world champion over the Ironman and the Ironman 70.3 distance, not to mention the winner of last year’s million-dollar triple crown. In fact, since Ryf and Frodeno won the first leg of the triple crown this year in Dubai, they’re the only two able to go after the million bucks this year.
And get this – Frodeno came across the line in Roth and promptly