In only his second ever full-distance race, Ben Kanute recorded the fastest ever Ironman time set by an American with a brilliant third-place finish behind Magnus Ditlev and Patrick Lange at Challenge Roth.
The American, second at last year’s IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship, was full of praise for the race, his competitors and the atmosphere in Bavaria, which all made for a memorable performance.
Recapping the race, the Illinois native described his third-place result as confirmation that he had been right to take on full-distance racing, with much more still to come.
“This is the arena for triathlon”
Highlighting just how special competing in Roth was, Kanute describes the energy of the crowd, whose support followed him around the race and could even be heard in the water!
“There is no crowd like there is in Roth. The atmosphere, the energy, you can almost feel it and hear the crowd, even when your head was in the water.
“This is the arena for triathlon. There’s a bridge that overlooks the swim start and there were hundreds of people, thousands even, all along the shore, so starting the race there was this really cool atmosphere.
“I think Challenge Roth is this grassroots, family based race on the biggest scale and it’s what triathlon is all about.”
“I was calm and ready to go on race day”
On to the race, Kanute was confident in his preparations ahead of the starting gun and described the lead into race day as very relaxing as he got ready to go.
“Leading into the race, I felt super-laidback. I had a few obligations, but I found the race to be super accommodating and so I was very calm and ready to go on race day.”
Whilst he had planned to be out of the water with a gap to defending champion Ditlev and home favourite Lange, entering T1, the American found the pair on his shoulder, a surprise that changed the race dynamics considerably.
“Nobody wants to start the bike with Magnus Ditlev or Patrick Lange and Jim [Vance], who was meant to give me a split back to them, just held up a board with a big zero.
“I think with the long drawn out swim to the first buoy and the wetsuit swim, there was just a pack all there together that managed to stay in touch throughout the swim. Out on the bike, I led for the first 10-15 minutes, then Magnus, Sam [Laidlow] and Daniel [Baekkegard] came around me and from then it was just about hanging on.
“My hope was that Sam and Daniel were overriding and they would come back to us on the run, as the power I was riding was comparable to a middle distance race. By the time we got off the bike, I knew Patrick was trying to run a 2:30, Magnus was twelve minutes up the road, so Sam was the big question on my mind.
“I just set off at my pace, that I thought I was capable of. I knew from my training that I was capable of 2:40 or under. Patrick was slowly gaining at the first 10km and then 18km and Magnus and Sam were keeping the same paces as me which surprised me.
“I was in fourth place, and it took until the 12-15km mark to hear that the gap to Sam was coming back down, and once I passed him, it was all about keeping hold of third place.
“At the finish, entering the stadium was so much affirmation and confirmation of the work we have done and to come third behind two great athletes in Magnus and Patrick. To go 7:37 in my second full-distance race, third at Roth and get everything I could’ve asked for was amazing.
“I think Challenge Roth is this grassroots, family-based race on the biggest scale and it’s what triathlon is all about.”