At last, our Kona journey has reached its zenith, with the biggest and most important triathlon of the year: the Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. As usual, there were lots of fireworks on race day. Exceptionally-good course conditions saw records fall. Both men and women set new Kona-best times. It was an awesome race.
On the men's side, the withdrawal of 2016 and 2015 champ Jan Frodeno turned the race into a bit of a different beast, with all eyes on defending 2017 winner Patrick Lange, last year's runner-up Lionel Sanders, 2014 Ironman World Sebastian Kienle, and recent ITU-to-Ironman transplant Javier Gomez as almost equally-likely winners. Lange took the win, breaking the 8-hour barrier for the first time in Kona's 40-year history. Upon crossing the line, he proposed marriage to his girlfriend, who accepted.
In the women's race, everyone expected three-time winner and defending champ Daniela Ryf to take the win, with virtually no contenders to challenge her. And win she did, despite being stung by jellyfish during the swim and nearly quitting. Instead, she shattered her own course record by over TWENTY MINUTES and set a new bike course record along the way. Lucy Charles rode an incredible ride and took second, with Anne Haug rounding out the podium. Many were eager to see how three-time champ Mirinda Carfrae would fare, returning for her first World Championship race since becoming a new mother. She performed beautifully, coming in just off the podium.