But the double Olympic champion’s 7:45:20 from 2019 was eclipsed in spectacular style as Denmark’s Daniel Bækkegård crossed the line in 7:34:23, with favourable wind conditions making for an incredibly fast bike leg.
Bækkegård finished six minutes clear of Perth’s Matt Burton, with fellow West Australian Nick Thompson rounding out the podium in just his second IRONMAN.
‘I think I did an okay job!’
And Bækkegård explained afterwards: “On the run I just took off, basically I just ran as fast as I could and I had a little bit of an eye on the record here.
“I know Ali [Brownlee] had it and he’s kind of an icon in the sport and Maxxy [Neumann] was one second away from it last year so I definitely wanted to beat it here and I think I did an okay job doing that!”
But while the quick times made for a shorter day than usual, the race certainly took its toll on Bækkegård who was following up his Challenge Canberra victory a week before.
“I’m feeling pretty terrible to be honest, it’s IRONMAN, it’s not supposed to feel good,” said the Dane.
“Seriously though, the crowds here, the whole course and everything, it was just spectacular to race. It’s definitely a bucket list race to do and in some weird way I actually appreciated every second of it.”
The pace was on from the start, with the top seven men exiting the water together and then they lifted the tempo even further on the bike.
Talking through that part of the race, Bækkegård said: “The guys took it out pretty quick on the swim so I decided to save some energy there, and then we just went from the gun basically also on the bike. It was pretty big group we had leading out and I decided 60k in to put the hammer down and try to separate the group a little bit, I think that worked pretty well and from there it was just basically racing.
“From there, 120k in I found myself in the lead alone and in the last couple of k’s Matt Burton came around me and went first into the transition and it was just awesome to see how everyone was cheering for a home favourite, it was amazing to watch and to witness. He’s such a good guy, I really like him and he deserves every credit because he’s an absolute beast.
And like women’s winner Fenella Langridge it was clear what an impression the trip had made on Bækkegård.
He added: “It’s been absolute dream to be here, Australia is one of my favourite countries. I love the people here, I love the vibe, I love the fact that it’s actually okay to have fun while being active and everybody is so supportive about it.
“I love the food culture here, I love the people, the smiles, everything. If it wasn’t because I’d just bought a house in Switzerland I would move here. It’s definitely not the last time I’ll be here, Busselton has so much to offer, it’s amazing.”