Daniela Ryf returns to dominate the 5th Ironman World Championship


This article originally appeared on Triathlete

Yes men’s race in St. George was a day of strategy and cards against the chest, and then the women’s race was more about dominance, passion and the return of a queen.

Daniela Ryf, 34, won her fifth world crown over the entire distance (and her 10th world title overall) in a time of 8:34:59. With previous victories, Ryf has always kept her cool – but today there was no hiding how thrilled she was, not only to claim victory, but to put any questions about her continued reign to bed. at the pinnacle of sport. Before the race there were many – her included – who doubted she had what it takes to win a world championship yet, but from the moment Ryf took the lead in the race today today (about 30 miles on the bike) she never looked back.

As she headed down the finish chute, knowing victory was hers, she let out an unusual roar and couldn’t hide her joy and emotion. “I’m so happy, after a really tough few months, to bring it all together today. What a day!” she said. “The swim was tough, I actually missed it again, but I think it’s good luck if I’m not leading the race. On the bike, Kat [Matthews] was pushing, I was pushing, it was really fun. I said to myself on the bike, “even if I’m not going to win, I had fun today”, and that’s really important.

The watts of happiness clearly paid off as Ryf said the power, as well as the fun, was there from the start of the bike, which seemed obvious to all. “When I was on the bike I enjoyed it and I could also put some power in, which of course makes it even more fun.”

Her lead never looked in doubt in the race, with a time of 2:59:36, which took her to the finish line almost nine minutes ahead of second place Kat Matthews, who was delighted with her first performance at world championships. “I can’t ask for anything more,” she said at the finish line. “I can’t believe my brain and body kept delivering what I asked of them. I pushed so hard, I was pushing a lot. Coming to my first world championship and finishing second behind Daniela Ryf, eh well, wow, I’m very happy.

As 2019 Ironman World Champion Anne Haug knocked her down, Matthews said she feared getting caught by the fleet-footed runner (whose 2:56:00 split time was the women’s fastest race). fastest of the day), but she said she “got her legs back” around mile 12. Despite cramping with only a few miles to go, she was able to hold off Haug to cross the line in 8:43: 49. She added, “I actually think I paced it perfectly.”

Haug finished just over three minutes behind Matthews in 8:47:03 and was so exhausted that announcer Mike Reilly joined her on the floor for her finish line interview: “It was ridiculously hot . I was digging so deep. Kudos to Daniela, she showed how classy she is, and Kat rode an amazing race. I’m super happy with my third place. My first goal was to see the finish line, my second goal was to do the best I could so I achieved both today.

How the race went

Despite concerns about wind and weather, wetsuit swimming remained calm at Sand Hollow Reservoir. Super swimmer Haley Chura was the first out of the water in 50:29, with Lisa Norden just over two minutes behind and a large group that included Ryf, Skye Moench, Matthews and defending champion Haug at 4 :15 behind.

In pre-race interviews, Ryf has spoken openly about having had a tough few years – with up and down results, including 11th at the 70.3 Worlds last year and 13th at the last Ironman World Championship in 2019. “Last year wasn’t my best,” she said at the pre-race press conference, but noted that she had regained her health and was training good. “The big races motivate me. It’s really when it counts that I can get the best out of myself.

She certainly looked like her old self at the start of the bike, coming up front and pulling a front group of Matthews, Norden and Moench with her – but by mile 40 only Matthews was stuck to the Ryf train and by mile 50 even the the promising Briton was gone. From there, Ryf simply opened up a bigger and bigger lead on the women behind her – blowing up the field in the process.

Matthews left T2 in second place, about seven minutes behind Ryf, but it was probably the women in his rearview mirror that worried her the most. Norden started the race two minutes later, with Moench and Haug six minutes behind. Unsurprisingly, Haug sped through the field with his trademark speed and by mile 10 had passed Norden for the final podium spot. Although Haug started eating into the buffer Matthews had, once the Briton found her racing legs halfway through, she showed great stoicism and poise – and in fact started to open up more of a gap on Haug in the final kilometres. At the finish line, Haug confirmed what his body was showing us: “I gave absolutely everything in the tank today – I’m very happy that it was enough for third place. “

For exclusive access to all of our fitness, gear, adventure and travel stories, plus discounts on travel, events and gear, sign up at Outside+ today.


Comments are closed.