Triathlon Magazine Canada


- Ben Snider-McGrath is regular contributo­r to Triathlon Magazine.

While Sodaro’s win as a first-timer in Kona was a huge surprise, fans were much more prepared for Iden’s victory. Coming into the race, a Norwegian was expected to take the win, it was just a matter of which one—Iden or Kristian Blummenfel­t? The men’s race was much busier than the women’s had been coming out of the water, with a massive group of close to 20 men entering transition within 15 seconds of one another. Germany’s Florian Angert earned the top spot in the swim with a 48:15 split, but by the time everyone was out of transition, Sweden’s Jesper Svensson and Australian Max Neumann had taken the lead. Blummenfel­t and Iden weren’t far behind, just 20 seconds back. Soon enough, Neumann decided to pull away from Svensson, and he was eventually joined by Sam Laidlow of France. Like CharlesBar­clay and Langridge had done in the women’s race, Neumann and Laidlow worked together at the front for a while, but they were eventually caught by Denmark’s Magnus Ditlev at the 80-km mark. Fifteen kilometres later, that pack of three had grown to five, with the two Norwegians joining the fun.

Both incredible runners, Blummenfel­t and Iden would have been very happy to ride with this group all the way to T2, but Laidlow knew he had to give himself a buffer if he wanted a shot at the win. Around the 110-km checkpoint, he took off, breaking away from the group and extending his lead for the rest of the ride. He entered T2 with a bike split of 4:04:36, which smashed the previous course record of 4:09:06 held by Australian pro cyclist Cameron Wurf. His monster ride also gave him a six-minute lead over the chase pack of Iden, Blummenfel­t and Neumann (Ditlev was only five minutes back, but he had to serve a five-minute penalty near the end of the ride).

When the Norwegians got to work on the marathon course, it seemed inevitable that they would catch Laidlow. After just three kilometres, they’d cut 30 seconds off of the Frenchman’s lead, and by the 10-km checkpoint, they were only four minutes back. Laidlow ran well, though, and he held them off for quite a while. With under 14 km to go, Iden and Blummenfel­t were still more than two minutes back, and for a short while it looked like Laidlow could hold on for the win. That was when Iden took matters into his own hands, dropping his training partner and flying up the road on his own. At the 30-km mark, the gap was 1:59, and just three kilometres later, it was down to 59 seconds. A mile after that, Iden was 23 seconds back, and he made the pass with around six km left in the run. From that point on, it was Iden’s race to win, and he eventually crossed the line in an enormous course record of 7:40:24 (the previous record was 7:51:13, set by Jan Frodeno in 2019). His marathon split of 2:36:15 also crushed the run course record by three and a half minutes. Laidlow ended up holding on for second place, finishing in 7:42:24, and Blummenfel­t crossed the line in third not long after, posting a final time of 7:43:23. Neumann finished in fourth, also breaking the previous course record with a phenomenal 7:44:44 finish.

Like Sodaro, all of the top four men were competing in Kona for the first time, making this year’s event one of the most thrilling races in Ironman history. It’s hard to imagine that the 2022 race could be topped, but with so much talent on both the women’s and men’s sides of the sport, it shouldn’t be surprising if next year’s race is somehow even better.

 ?? ?? Sam Laidlow crosses the line in second
Sam Laidlow crosses the line in second
 ?? ?? Max Neumann followed by Jesper Svensson in T1
Max Neumann followed by Jesper Svensson in T1
 ?? ?? Magnus Ditlev
Magnus Ditlev
 ?? ??

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