American Rudy von Berg capped off his season in style down at Panama City Beach, as the PTO World #18 romped to victory at IRONMAN Florida and obliterated the previous course record held by Gustav Iden.
Taking down Danish star Magnus Ditlev, who pipped him in the race for third at the IRONMAN World Championship in Nice, the Boulder native picked up his second win on USA soil this year, having also won IRONMAN Texas at the start of the season.
Finishing in second, Poland’s Kacper Stepniak had a close battle with American Matthew Marquardt, prevailing in the end with Marquardt rounding out the podium in third place, as both athletes picked up Kona slots for next October.
Swim – Strong from Ditlev as Horsfall-Turner leads
Setting the pace early on, Welshman Andrew Horsfall-Turner was the quickest swimmer though the first lap, leading a group of twelve athletes, including Stepniak, von Berg and Marquardt through 1900m in 24:59, with Ditlev hanging on at the back of the front group.
By the end of the second lap, the group had drifted off Horsfall-Turner, but only by a small margin, as the early leader entered T1 with a +0:05 buffer over second place Jesper Svensson. Stepniak, Frenchman Denis Chevrot and American Dylan Gillespie also exited the water within ten seconds of the front.
Slightly further back, Marquardt was down +0:13 alongside von Berg, with Ditlev, having remained within touching distance of the lead pack throughout the second lap, out of the water in 13th at +0:23, just behind Great Britain’s Harry Palmer. Further back, Matt Hanson was +3:09 down, with Aussie Cam Wurf +4:17 behind.
Bike – Favourites keep cards close to their chest
By the first time checkpoint on the bike, Ditlev had made his way to the front, with von Berg the only athlete alongside him through the 33km mark. At this point, Svensson, Stepniak, Marquardt and Chilean Martin Ulloa were the only other athletes within a minute of the front, down +0:15.
Surprisingly, this group pulled back up to Ditlev and von Berg and were riding in a group of six through the 54.4km timing split, with Chevrot the closest of the chasers at +2:44. The group, working well together, and was still intact through 112km and 145km, growing the lead to +8:44 over Cam Wurf, who had moved into seventh.
Coming off the bike, Ulloa was the only casualty, losing three minutes in the final 40km, as Ditlev led von Berg, Marquardt, Stepniak and Svensson into transition. With ten minutes over next best Wurf and Palmer, the group also had a comfortable 15 minute buffer over talented runner Hanson.
Run – The Rudy show
Out on to the run, Ditlev and von Berg made the early move and had a +0:15 gap after 3.5km, with Stepniak looking like the strongest out of the remaining three in the fight for third. The leading pair were still side-by-side at 10.5km, before von Berg made up +0:25 in just 4km as Ditlev started to falter.
By 17.5km, Marquardt had moved up into second, passing Stepniak and Ditlev, as von Berg extended the lead over his fellow American to half a minute. Scorching through halfway in 1:17:33, von Berg was a minute ahead, with Marquardt in second and Ditlev losing ground to Stepniak in the battle for third.
By the 24.4km mark, Stepniak had gone past Ditlev, with the PTO World #2 having no response and losing more and more ground on the front three. Up front, Marquardt started to struggle, with von Berg leading by close to five minutes at the 31.4km mark and Stepniak moving up to second.
Home and dry over the last 10km, von Berg did not let off, running a 2:38:24 marathon to finish in 7:34:41, a mark that beat the previous course record set by former IRONMAN World Champion Gustav Iden by almost eight minutes. Finishing +7:21 behind, Stepniak was strong in second, also coming under the previous course record, as Marquardt finished third.
Passing Ditlev in the closing stages, Hanson ran out of real estate as he chased down Marquardt, the podium and a ticket to Kona, losing out to his fellow American in the race for third by less than a minute, after running a remarkable 2:34:07 marathon. In fifth, Ditlev soldiered on despite not having his best day, and by finishing validated his slot for the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona.
IRONMAN Florida 2023 Men’s Results
Saturday November 4, 2023 – Panama City Beach, Florida
- 1. Rudy von Berg (USA) – 7:34:41
- 2. Kacper Stepniak (POL) – 7:42:03
- 3. Matthew Marquardt (USA) – 7:44:27
- 4. Matt Hanson (USA) – 7:45:26
- 5. Magnus Ditlev (DEN) – 7:48:53