Two-time IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion and now current IRONMAN World Champion Gustav Iden is one of the superstars putting Norway very much on the triathlon map.
Born in Bergen in May 1996, Iden has proved himself at the very highest level with some astonishing performances in recent years – particularly in middle-distance races.
Part of the ‘golden generation’ of Norwegians which includes fellow Bergen boys Kristian Blummenfelt and Casper Stornes, Iden has proved himself one of THE shining stars of the sport.
And then in October 2022 when the race returned to its spiritual home of Kona, Iden – in his trademark lucky hat – chased down long-time leader Sam Laidlow to win the IRONMAN World Championship in a record-breaking time.
A keen cyclist who loved running before beginning his triathlon career, Iden has worked hard to improve his swimming as he seeks to become the perfect all-round triathlete.
Iden and his Norwegian team-mates have enjoyed some golden moments in short-course competition too, notably that clean sweep of the World Triathlon Bermuda podium in 2018 when he finished third behind the aforementioned Stornes and Blummenfelt.
Gustav won his first national titles in triathlon and duathlon before finishing seventh at the 2015 Junior World Championships in Chicago, USA. He then entered the elite category and won his first event in 2017 when he picked up the Karlovy Vary ITU World Cup in Czech Republic with a time of 1:49:06, beating Stornes by over two minutes.
Since then Iden has followed this up with multiple podiums, those back-to-back IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship wins and a top-10 finish in his first Olympic Games. He also produced an astonishing full-distance debut at IRONMAN Florida in November 2021.
In 2022, Iden reached legendary status, with a win at the PTO Canadian Open, plus his astonishing win at the IRONMAN World Championships in Kona in a new course record of 7:40:23, enough to see him voted the 2022 Men’s Triathlete of the year at the inaugural Global Triathlon Awards.
Still relatively young in triathlon terms, Iden has the world at his feet as he looks ahead to both long-course competition and another Olympic bid at Paris 2024.
Career record and results
It is those IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship and IRONMAN World Championship wins which provide the exclamation points on Gustav’s C.V. so far – but they are just part of the story.
Iden really cemented his elite reputation with his World Cup wins at Weihai and then Lausanne in 2018. The Norwegian’s win in Switzerland came as a surprise to the triathlon world – he made a lot of people sit up and take notice. Gustav’s dominant running ability secured the win as he made short work of a leading pack which included Blummenfelt and British star Jonny Brownlee.
At the inaugural PTO Championship in Daytona in December 2020, Iden again showed off his superior running ability as he coasted to an historic win. On the swim he was around 75 seconds behind the leading pack, and gained ground on the bike in trademark style. But it was on the run where he really impressed – recording the second fastest split of the day (58:16) to claim a brilliant success.
Iden also showcased his ability in style at the inaugural Collins Cup in Samorin in 2021. He easily won his race for Team Europe and recorded the second fastest time of the day – just 20 seconds slower than modern-day GOAT Jan Frodeno.
Iden at IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship
Iden really announced himself on the world stage over longer distances with that epic victory over a stellar field in the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Nice in 2019.
The manner in which the youthful Iden surged clear of double Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee on the run to win by almost three minutes was spectacular, and it stunned many seasoned observers. Iden had executed his normal plan, making up a swim gap on the bike and then using that terrific run ability to claim a convincing victory.
The 2020 race was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning that Iden had been the reigning champion for two years when he lined up against another deep field in St George, Utah in September 2021. The race was billed as an all-Norwegian showdown between Iden and the newly-crowned Olympic and WTCS champion Blummenfelt.
In the end that much-anticipated showdown between the Scandinavian giants did not materialise as Blummenfelt’s hopes of victory were ruined by a mechanical just as the bike leg was reaching a crucial phase.
Gustav yet again showcased that trademark gameplan of surging to the front of the field on the bike after making up a gap from the swim leg (around a minute in this case). By the time the field reached T2, Gustav was firmly in command and he stretched further clear to come home almost four minutes in front of American Sam Long.
Iden at the Olympics
Gustav had his first experience of Olympic competition at the delayed 2020 Games, which took place in Tokyo in the summer of 2021. While an eighth-placed finish behind compatriot Blummenfelt – including the second fastest bike split of the day – may have appeared respectable, it was a major disappointment for the hugely competitive Iden.
In the aftermath of the result, Gustav expressed his regret at not taking more control of his preparation for the biggest race of his life, for fear it would backfire. One suspects he will not make the same mistake again.
Iden at Ironman distance
The Norwegian’s brilliance was further advertised by that stunning debut performance over the full distance at IRONMAN Florida in November 2021. Despite a training year focused until August on peaking for the Olympic Games, Iden showed he has what it takes to be one of the best in the world over the iron-distance format, by setting a new course record at Panama City Beach and finishing with a stunning 2:34:51 marathon.
“It’s a good first try but I have some work to improve on, so hopefully I can beat my time in the future.”
The big question was whether Iden could become IRONMAN World Champion on debut in 2022 but just 24 hours before the rescheduled event in St George he was forced out by a cold and respiratory infection.
But he made up for that in spectacular fashion with that incredible display at Kona – breaking the marathon record there and taking a staggering 10 minutes off the previous best overall time thanks to his 7:40:24 on what was his first appearance in Hawaii.
Gustav Iden and family
Gustav’s brother Mikal Iden is a coach with the Norwegian National team. Mikal is an accomplished triathlete in his own right of course – he won at IRONMAN Tallinn in 2019 and finished fourth at the 2015 Long Distance Triathlon National Championships in Norway. He has now been coaching for a number of years and served as assistant coach to Arild Tveiten with the Norwegian national team. He was also a part of that generation of Norwegian triathletes which has come to such prominence in recent years.
That (Taiwan) hat
Iden has become known for the Taiwanese baseball cap/hat which he has worn during some of his biggest triumphs. Gustav found it on the side of a road during a training camp in Japan. Although he did not understand the Taiwanese writing, he was a big fan of the hat and even wore it during his IRONMAN 70.3 win in Nice. As a result of the hat, Iden has now gained fans in Taiwan with the temple which sold the item running out of stock!
Gustav Iden gear
Iden rode a CADEX Aero Disc rear wheel, CADEX 65 front along CADEX Race tubeless tires on his Giant Trinity Advanced Pro bike as he retained his IRONMAN 70.3 world title in 2021. The Norwegian signed with Giant bikes in 2019, with his deal set to last until 2022.
Gustav also has partnerships with Deboer wetsuits, Shimano and Santini SMS. And just before Kona he announced a partnership with On running shoes.