London 2012 and Rio 2016 hero Brownlee, a surprise late addition to the field after an injury and illness-hit year, had forced the pace at the front of the field alongside France’s Sam Laidlow.
All had looked to be going smoothly for Brownlee, bar a hiccup at the end of the bike leg when he had to reverse to the dismount line.
He and Laidlow exited T2 with an advantage of over a minute in the $1million event but it was soon obvious that Brownlee was struggling. Grabbing his abdominal area he slowed to a walk on a couple of occasions as he dropped out of contention.
One of those overtaking him was Blummenfelt, the man who succeeded him as Olympic champion and also won this year’s IRONMAN World Championship.
But then suddenly the Norwegian looked to have an issue with his quads and also slowed. Though both he and Brownlee got going again, their chances of victory seemed over.
In stark contrast and making serene progress to the front was Blummenfelt’s compatriot Gustav Iden, the World 70.3 champion taking over from Laidlow at the head of the race.
Iden never relinquished that lead but Blummenfelt was showing remarkable powers of recovery and we suddenly had a Norwegian 1-2 getting to the business end of the race.
The much-hoped for head-to-head battle never quite materialised as Blummenfelt had too much of a gap to make up, but just 27 seconds separated them on the line.
Blu battles back
Aussie Aaron Royle produced a superb display to take third while Brownlee demonstrated great resilience to make it to the finish line in 24th.
Speaking afterwards, Blummenfelt explained: “I was cramping up so I was happy to be able to come back again in the race and fight for the win, at least in the end, and be back on the podium.
“At one point there, I thought I had to pull out so then to now come back and get second and $70K [for second place] isn’t too bad.”