"When I crossed the line, I was just in complete disbelief!"
The 2016 edition of the IRONMAN World Championships packed plenty of excitement and drama highlighted for us by blueseventy athlete Heather Jackson’s 3rd place finish. Jackson, an American professional triathlete based out of Bend, Oregon, was 5th here last year. “I really went out there shooting for top ten, but hoping to defend my 5th place spot, so to improve on that 5th place is surreal. I know there were some people out there that thought my 5th last year was just luck, or a one-time performance, so I'm just so stoked to have proven them wrong.”
At the end of the day it was last year all over again with defending champions Daniela Ryf and Jan Frodeno repeating as World Champions. The recent Challenge Roth winners dominated on the day from start to finish. While Ryf failed to break Chrissie Wellington’s world record time in Roth, she posted a 8:46:46 in Kona, setting a new record on the iconic course. She did so with a 52:50 swim, a 4:52 bike and a 2:56 marathon to defend her title in 8:46:46, breaking Mirinda Carfrae's record by over five minutes.
After an unusual fast training swim on the race course the week before rumors began to circulate that IRONMAN had re-measured the course and found the anchors used for the buoys had drifted over the years. A shorter course, some reports by up to 200m, meant athletes were in for a fast swim in 2016.
Ten female athletes exited Kailua Bay within ten seconds of each other with Daniela Ryf tucked comfortably into the group. They were smoothly out of transition and onto their bikes while main contenders were still swimming.
“The first part of the bike was the worst for me mentally,” said Jackson. “We had a horrible head wind for the first 30 miles and it was just demoralizing thinking that we were going to have that for four more hours. But then I caught some girls about an hour later and they were barely moving, so they had just gone out way too hard. Its a good reminder to just race your own race.”
blueseventy's Leanda Cave on the bike in Kona
Meantime, at the front, Ryf unleashed a strong second half. By the time she came into T2 her bike split of 4:52:26 pushed her lead to 8 minutes to her closes competition. Sticking to her race strategy, Jackson rolled into T2 with the second fastest ride at five hours flat. Three-time Kona champ Mirinda Carfrae had 22 minutes to make up off the bike, but if she was overwhelmed with that prospect, she didn’t show it: she quickly got to work tearing through the field.
“I started to fade a bit near the end of the run, as soon as I got out of the Energy Lab and I knew Rinny was coming quickly. I tried to match her when she passed but I just didn't have it,” added Jackson.
Carfrae would run her way to 2nd place although her usual incredible run split, 2:58:20, could not match Ryf’s 2:56:51. Jackson would hold onto 3rd place to finish in 9:11:10. “I'm so grateful to have had the luck I had on the day (primarily mechanical) and be able to execute the physical performance I had built up to all year in my training and racing.”
Doctor Lucy Gossage overcame a broken collarbone to finish in 9th-place, one place better than last year. Fellow blueseventy athletes Carrie Lester and Camilla Pedersen followed in 10th and 11th. USA’s Mary Beth Ellis, competing in her last race as a pro, cracked the top-15 with a 9:38:52.
blueseventy athletes Tim Don and Kevin Collington were instrumental in the testing of the all-new PZ4TX+, a short sleeve version of our popular PZ4TX swimskin.
A large group of men exited the warm waters of Kailua Bay together. In fact, over twenty of the top long-distance athletes were out of the water before the race clock struck 49 minutes and nearly all of the race favorites were in the mix including Jan Frodeno, Andy Potts, Marko Albert, Paul Matthews, Brent McMahon, Tim O’Donnell and Tim Don.
Sebastian Kienle, winner in Kona 2 years ago, was 4 minutes back, but rode strongly to move his way to the front of the race. He would exchange the lead with the uber bikers over the course of the 112 mile bike and hold his led into T2 with Frodeno, Luke McKenzie, Ben Hoffman, Boris Stein, Andi Böcherer and O’Donnell in tow. The race podium would be decided, or so everyone assumed, between these magnificent seven.
Onto the marathon, Frodeno and Kienle quickly separated themselves and ran together, shoulder to shoulder. Fans hoping for a repeat of the iconic run battle between Mark Allen and Dave Scott from the 1989 World Championships would not get the show they wanted when Frodeno began to pull away from Kienle as they climbed the hill to head out of town.
Frodeno's 2:45:34 marathon led him across the finish line in 8:06:30, the 4th fastest time in Kona history. Kienle ran 2:49 to finish in second, while Patrick Lange, 23rd off the bike, dropped a 2:39:45 marathon to run his way onto the final spot on the podium. He became the first male pro to go sub 2:40 on the Kona course and broke the course record set by Allen over 25 years ago.
The top blueseventy athlete was the USA’s Matt Russell in 12th.