OMING INTO THIS YEAR’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP,
Cwhenever someone asked me to predict the women’s race, I offered two scenarios: really boring if the Daniela Ryf I saw “rocking Roth” (where she smiled her way through an 8:22 performance, literally dancing across the finish line to record the second-fastest full-distance time ever) appeared, or really exciting if we saw the same woman who “struggled” to fourth in Mooloolaba.
Unfortunately for the rest of the women, the “Roth Ryf” was on the Big Island for this year’s race.
It didn’t look like that at first. Out of the water the women’s race looked like we were going to finally witness a close contingent battling things out on the bike, similar to what we’re used to in the men’s race.
Led by Meredith Kessler (52:46), 12 women came out of the water within nine seconds of each other. Following Kessler you had 2012 champ Leanda Cave, Ironman Asia-pacific champion Jodie Swallow, Annabel Luxford, Canadian-turned-american (but we’ll still claim her) Alicia Kaye, Mary Beth Ellis, Camilla Pedersen, Ryf, Germany’s Anja Beranek, Laurel Wassner, Michelle Vesterby and Katja Konshcak.
Carfrae would exit the water four minutes down alongside Canadian Heather Wurtele, while another of the race favourites, Melissa Hauschildt, would hit the bike course six minutes behind the leaders.
Once out on the bike course Kessler and Vesterby seemed to be the most aggressive riders during the early portions of the race, with Kaye even popping up at the front on occasion. Then, just as we were preparing ourselves for a group ride up to Hawi, Ryf took off. Frightening Ryf fact: she didn’t even think she was taking off. “We were all just taking turns at the front,” she would say later at the press conference. “I went to the front and then no one came by.”
Ryf then proceeded to ride away from the group. Only Beranek would try to stay with the defending champion, which she managed to do until the turn in Hawi, at which point Ryf simply used her incredible power to fly away on the downhill and leave the German in no-women’s land.