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Gustav Iden targets “something cool” in Kona as he takes another step back towards Ironman triathlon summit

The 2022 IRONMAN World Champion is starting to believe his form will come good in time for what's now a confirmed return to Kona.

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Crossing the finish line in 13th place last weekend at IRONMAN 70.3 Les Sables D’Olonne may not be up there with career highlights for the brilliant Gustav Iden. But do not underestimate its significance.

For while the Norwegian came in six minutes after winner Nicolas Mann, just getting to the finish line meant that he validated his spot for this year’s IRONMAN World Championship in Kona.

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‘Comeback tour’

The last time the men’s IMWC was held in Hawaii in 2022, Iden of course became the youngest ever World Champion with a display which rewrote the record books – and all on his Kona debut.

But more than just booking his return ticket by finishing Les Sables, it was also one of the first real indications that Iden’s form is starting to trend in the right direction.

It’s been an incredibly difficult couple of years for Gustav since that famous Kona triumph, both on a professional and personal level, and his jig as he ran over the finish line showed things on the race track are now starting to look up.

In the pre-race press conference in France, he’d said: “I’m kind of on a comeback tour of sorts as I’ve been injured for some time. I’m still not running fully so my mission for this race is to finish.”

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Getting back up to speed

Rediscovering that run speed has been Iden’s biggest post-injury challenge in the last few months, but 70.3 Les Sables was a massive progression.

In his previous race, IRONMAN 70.3 Warsaw, he’d clocked 1:19:57. That’s a great half marathon time for mere mortals – but for Iden it was an eye opener.

He said of it: “In Warsaw, the run was actually so, so hard. I’ve never run that long in a half IRONMAN before.

“I almost used one hour 20 on the run which is a long time so respect for the age groupers who are out there for many hours [for the half IRONMAN]. I’m used to being out of the finish line in four hours.

“It was my longest run since last year and to do it in a triathlon was difficult.”

But fast forward three weeks, and 1:19:57 had become 1:14:36. “I think I ran 10 seconds [per kilometre] faster than Poland so if I keep going at this pace then Kona will be very good,” said Iden just after crossing the Les Sables finish line.

gustav-iden-kona-2022-run-finish
That memorable day in Kona in 2022 (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)
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Kona comes into focus

It was actually 15 seconds a kilometre or nearly 25 seconds a mile quicker and underlined his hopes that things will come good in time for Kona in late October.

“I know I’m not fit enough to beat the guys next to me [at the moment] but hopefully I can be more of an athlete in Kona,” Iden said.

“There’s still some time left but I feel like time is really, really flying.

But hopefully I can be ready to do something cool in Kona.

That would be wonderful to see and the reason Gustav has booked his spot back at th Big Island is because previous IRONMAN World Champions receive an exemption for a period of five years after winning their title.

In order to validate they have to “race competitively” and finish at least one full IRONMAN or two 70.3s, which Iden ticked off with those Warsaw and Les Sables displays.

However he did cut it fine as the qualifying period for the half IRONMAN route ended on June 30.

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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