Ryf takes Gold, Silver for Charles at 70.3 World Champs

With a fourth victory in five years, Switzerland's three-time IRONMAN World Champion, Daniela Ryf, retained her IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship title in Port Elizabeth, South Africa ahead of Great Britain's Lucy Charles

Chief Correspondent
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Fourth IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in five years for Daniela Ryf

Lucy Charles continues to impress with second in Port Elizabeth

To the surprise of almost literally nobody, Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf continued her destruction of the 2018 triathlon season by adding a fourth IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship title to her C.V. today in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

The surprise of the day – perhaps – was that Great Britain’s Lucy Charles continued her own impressive rise to come off the bike next to the ‘Angry Bird’ – and still finish the race closer than anyone has got this year to surely the best female IRONMAN 70.3 athlete we’ve ever seen. They were one-two in Kona last year – the scene has been set for another fantastic race in October between that pairing.

The Race

Within a minute of the race start, the predictable happened and the Lucy Charles swim express was in full motion and clear at the front of the 1.9km swim in the sea next to Kings Beach. Just over 23 minutes later and Charles was heading into T1, 1:05 clear of another Brit, Fenella Langridge, who produced some impressive body-surfing skills to pull a few seconds clear from the chase pack.

The odds-on favourite, Daniela Ryf, was in that chase group 1:24 back on Charles and in a great position starting the bike. Sarah Lewis was through the swim in 11th (+2:46) with Emma Pallant 17th (+2:55) just a few seconds back. Emma would have some serious racing to do if she was to match her Silver medal from Chattanooga 12 months ago.

With the first few kilometres, Daniela Ryf had dropped all of her swim companions and was clear in second place and catching the Charles, but Lucy herself was also riding faster than everyone else except the Swiss legend. A third of the way through the ride, they were now a leading pair and a full three and a half minutes clear of a chasing group of six – Anne Haug (GER), Radka Vodickova (CZE), Imogen Simmonds (SUI), Pamella Oliveira (BRA), Sara True (USA) and Jeanni Seymour (RSA).

Charles was not going to let Ryf simply ride away, and at 60km their lead had increased to almost six minutes, their chasers now reduced to four with Seymour and True losing touch. The trend continued until T2, where Ryf and Charles handed over their bikes with a 7:41 lead over Vodickova, Simmonds, Haug and Oliveira.

Emma Pallant reached transition in eighth (+11:31), in the company of Ellie Salthouse (AUS), Heather Wurtele (CAN), and Jeanni Seymour (RSA), with Sarah Lewis 12th (+14:15) and Fenella Langridge 14th (+17:44)

Ryf was slightly quicker through transition than Charles to hit the run course first – and would remain there for the next 21km. Despite her bike efforts, Lucy was still moving strongly and having recorded a 5km PB of 16:46 just last week, she was right to have confidence in her run ability. In case anyone was in any doubt already, she is the real-deal all-round triathlete now. We said it years ago, she’s no One Trick Pony!

The Swiss maestro gradually increased her lead through the half marathon, eventually clocking a 1:17:00 split, to cross the line in 4:01:13, 3:46 clear of the young Brit who herself produced a strong 1:20:37 run.

Behind them, and absolutely tearing up the tarmac, was Germany’s Anne Haug who produced the fastest run of the day by some margin – 1:15:11 – to complete an absolutely top quality podium. I look forward to that trio going head-to-head once again in Kona in six weeks time.

There was a real battle for fourth, where Brazil’s Pamella Oliveira just edged out Radka Vodickova, while positions six through to ten were also close, just 71 seconds between Simmonds (SUI) in sixth and True (USA) in tenth. A real shame that the champagne celebrations for the top three couldn’t have been delayed just a few minutes to see all of that play out on the coverage.

IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship, Port Elizabeth, South Africa – Saturday 1st September 2018
1.9km / 90km / 21.1km


1st – Daniela Ryf (SUI) – 4:01:13
2nd – Lucy Charles (GBR) – 4:04:59
3rd – Anne Haug (GER) – 4:07:22
4th – Pamella Oliveira (BRA) – 4:13:44
5th – Radka Vodickova (CZE) – 4:13:50
6th – Imogen Simmonds (SUI) – 4:14:49
7th – Jeanni Seymour (RSA) – 4:14:57
8th – Ellie Salthouse (AUS) – 4:15:12
9th – Emma Pallant (GBR) – 4:15:53
10th – Sarah True (USA) – 4:16:00
11th – Heather Wurtele (CAN) – 4:18:48
12th – Sarah Lewis (GBR) – 4:22:27

16th – Fenella Langridge (GBR) – 4:29:19

John Levison
Written by
John Levison
TRI247's Chief Correspondent, John has been involved in triathlon for well over 30 years, 15 of those writing on these pages, whilst he can also be found commentating for events across the UK.
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