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IRONMAN Kona: Daniela Ryf leaves no stone unturned in her bid for a sixth IMWC title

The goal for the 'Angry Bird' is clear

News Director
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“It might look easy, but it never is,” says Daniela Ryf as she looks to win a sixth IRONMAN World Championship next weekend after producing the performance of this – and potentially any other – season.

The Swiss star won four successive IMWC showdowns in Kona between 2015 and 2018 and added a fifth title last year in the rescheduled race in St George.

Since stepping up from ITU racing after London 2012, her middle and long-distance record is unmatched, winning a staggering 44 of her 56 individual races.

And she showed she was better than ever when destroyed the strongest full-distance women’s field we’ve seen this season, in the process obliterating Chrissie Wellington’s world record time with that masterclass performance at Challenge Roth in late June.

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Ryf says Kona is wide open

But the line-up in Kona is a step up from even that. No one is missing. Four-time runner-up Lucy Charles Barclay is there as is reigning champ Chelsea Sodaro, 2019 winner Anne Haug, Kat Matthews, Laura Philipp as well as Taylor Knibb who makes her IRONMAN debut after successfully defending her title at the 70.3 Worlds.

“I’m 100% sure it’s going to be a spectacular race,” Ryf told TRI247. “It’s a super-stacked field and I would say it’s very open and that makes it definitely worth a watch!”

The eyes of the triathlon world will also be solely on the women this year following the Kona / Nice split, with the men having already raced on the French Riviera – something that Ryf sees both pros and cons around.

“It’s great for the women to have their own race,” she added. “I think it’s important we have our own race, [but] I’m not sure it needs to be in two different places.

“As triathlon, having that community, it’s also nice to share that with the men and I don’t think it takes anything away from the others. But with that said, it’s great that we have all the attention.”

Roth 2023 – ‘a perfect day’

And there’s no doubt that Ryf goes in there as the one to beat, given those five titles and that Roth display of which she said: “Challenge Roth this year definitely was the perfect day, that’s only happened twice in my career so that’s very rare.

“Being able to break that record means a lot to me. I would say it was the last thing I haven’t achieved and I have huge respect for Chrissie. The fact that record stood for so long shows how good she is, especially as that was all before the carbon plate shoes and everything.

Daniela Ryf Chrissie Wellington Challenge Roth 2023
Daniela Ryf and Chrissie Wellington embrace after the finish line [Photo credit: Challenge Roth]

“So I had a bit of help but still you have to put everything together and I’m pleased it worked out so well on the day. And having her there at the finish I would say made it even more special. I felt like she was happy for me that I could sort of take over and I would say that I would definitely like to be there also once that record is taken to the next generation.”

Given that she admitted that world record was about the only thing she hadn’t achieved in her career, what keeps her motivated to keep coming back for more at the highest level?

“I love to train, I love to race. It might look easy but it never is. There are so many things that need to actually fit together. And that’s the hard part about it.

“I always see myself in front of new challenges and [it’s about] how to get ready for that day. I think that’s what keeps it interesting and I just pick some races where I feel keen to race – for me it’s important to be able to race with passion.

I need to be there with my full heart and I think Kona has been a race like that.

“Where I am able to put everything in there and also really leave everything out there, knowing in preparation that I ticked all the boxes and turned all the stones.”

Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  
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