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IRONMAN World Championship at Kona 2023 results: Lucy Charles-Barclay takes historic win

Britain's Lucy Charles-Barclay rewrote the record books in Kona.

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Britain’s Lucy Charles-Barclay, runner-up on her previous four visits to Kona, claimed a richly-deserved first victory at the IRONMAN World Championship thanks to a masterclass of a display which echoed her triumph in the 70.3 Worlds in 2021.

Just as she had that day, she led from start to finish – the first woman to do so in Kona. She was 90 seconds ahead after the swim, nearly four minutes to the good after the bike and never really looked in any danger on the run as she stopped the clock in a course record time of 8:24:31.

That left her just over three minutes in front of Germany’s Anne Haug on what was an historic day in Hawaii – the first time both the pro and age-group women had the whole race weekend to themselves, with the men’s event having taken place in Nice, France last month.

Laura Philipp (GER) rounded out the podium in third while American star Taylor Knibb, racing her first-ever full-distance race and the youngest in the field at 25, was a fine fourth, just ahead of five-time winner Daniela Ryf (SUI).

Fittingly the race had boasted arguably the best-ever full-distance female line-up but it was 30-year-old Charles-Barclay, who has overcome injury this season and prepared for the race in unusual style with a big indoor training block in the UK during September, who proved a class apart.

She becomes the third Briton to win the IMWC following in the footsteps of Chrissie Wellington (2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011) and Leanda Cave (2012).

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Swim – LCB in pole position, Philipp off the pace

It was no surprise at all to see Charles-Barclay assert from the start of the swim.

The Brit holds the course record and had led out of the water in her previous four Kona appearances, all of which saw her finish as runner-up.

Conditions saw some swells and choppiness and soon after the gun Lucy was clear and this time the likes of American duo Lauren Brandon and Haley Chura couldn’t get on her feet.

By the turn point at halfway Charles-Barclay was around 45 seconds to the good and she doubled that to 1:29 coming into T1, with Chura and Brandon second and third.

But the story was also about those just behind – Rebecca Clarke (NZL), Lotte Wilms (NED), Rachel Zilinskas (USA) and reigning 70.3 world champ Knibb were alongside Chura and Brandon in that first chase pack.

There was then a second chase ‘group’ of two which was Sarah Crowley (AUS) and Pamela Oliveira (BRZ), a further minute back.

And then came a host of the favourites at +4:21 – no surprise to see defending champion Chelsea Sodaro (USA) or five-time winner Ryf there but the likes of Haug and Kat Matthews (GBR) must have been encouraged to be with them at that point.

Those who might have expected to be better positioned included Fenella Langridge (GBR), who led for much of the bike with Charles-Barclay 12 months ago but this time was in the +4:21 group, and Philipp, who found herself outside the top 25 at +7:12 along with Skye Moench (USA).

Lucy Charles Barclay swim T1 Ironman World Championshop Kona 2023 photo credit Getty Images for IRONMAN
Lucy Charles-Barclay heads through T1 [Photo credit: Getty Images for IRONMAN]

Bike – Fastest split for Lucy as others falter

The script went to plan in the swim – and early on the bike things were also panning out as many had expected, with uber-biker Knibb soon surging past Brandon to move into second place.

And then it was about two things – Knibb locking slights on Charles-Barclay up front while Ryf, Matthews, Langridge and Lisa Norden (SWE) began to close on the other chasers.

But by the 30-mile point Knibb had stopped making inroads – she was now +2:01 behind LCB rather than the original 1:29 gap.

But some of the favourites were moving menacingly closer – Ryf opening up a handful of seconds on Matthews, Haug, Langridge and Norden, with Philipp also powering into contention as she erased her swim deficit.

Ryf then put the hammer down in the miles leading up to the turnaround point at Hawi, moving up to third and dropping those behind her. But going in the opposite direction was Matthews, who would soon find herself out of contention.

But all the while Charles-Barclay looked super smooth up front and things would start to swing even more in her favour.

First, five-time winner Ryf’s charge started to fizzle out and then Knibb was hit with a penalty for unintentional littering. She’d lost a bottle from the back of her bike early on and then a second one hit the tarmac before she stopped to top up supplies at a special needs station.

She remained composed throughout – telling the media moto about her one-minute penalty and explaining she would have to serve it just before T2 – but it was all making her debut task even harder and it was Charles-Barclay who ended up clocking the fastest bike split of the day in 4:32:29, almost six minutes quicker than anything she’d previously produced in Kona.

By the time Knibb had served the penalty and arrived in T2, she had 3:47 to make up on LCB. It was then double figures and upwards to the rest, headed by Jocelyn McCauley (USA), Philipp and Norden at +10:46.

Ryf was a further 30 seconds back and arguably the fastest runner of all Haug was at 12:14, but did they already have too much ground to make up?

That was almost certainly the case for reigning champion Sodaro at +22:15.

Run – Lucy shatters Kona course record

All the early indications on the run suggested this was finally going to be the day for Charles-Barclay. She looked strong from the outset and was running significantly faster than Knibb, who soon found herself more than five minutes adrift.

The two key moves from behind were coming from Philipp and Haug, who moved up to third and fourth respectively but they were only taking seconds rather than minutes out of LCB.

Just before the halfway point Charles-Barclay was just under six minutes in front of Knibb, with Haug now having eased into third at +9:24, Philipp at +10:18 and the rest more than 13 minutes back.

Haug was going quickest of all by this point – underlining her status as the #1 ranked runner – but with ten miles to go she still had nearly eight minutes to make up if she wanted to add to her 2019 title on the Big Island.

She made the pass on Knibb just after the 18-mile point but Charles-Barclay, coached like Haug by Dan Lorang, continued to look strong up front.

And though the gap came down in the closing stages, Lucy had more than enough in hand and knocked nearly two minutes off Ryf’s course record of 8:26:18 from 2018, also going under three hours in the Kona marathon for the first time (2:57:38).

Haug meanwhile ran the 26.2 miles in 2:48:23, the first woman to go under 2:50 in Hawaii.

IRONMAN World Championship 2023 Results

Saturday October 14, 2022 – Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

PRO Women

  • 1. Lucy Charles-Barclay (GBR) – 8:24:31
  • 2. Anne Haug (GER) – 8:27:33
  • 3. Laura Philipp (GER) – 8:32:55
  • 4. Taylor Knibb (USA) – 8:35:56
  • 5. Daniela Ryf (SUI) – 8:40:34
  • 6. Chelsea Sodaro (USA) – 8:42:25
  • 7. Skye Moench (USA) – 8:43:34
  • 8. Sarah True (USA) – 8:47:06
  • 9. Lisa Norden (SWE) – 8:49:36
  • 10. Jocelyn McCauley (USA) – 8:50:39
  • 11. Hannah Berry (NZL) – 8:53:45
  • 12. Ruth Astle (GBR) – 8:55:35
  • 13. Penny Slater (AUS) – 8:57:17
  • 14. Svenja Thoes (GER) – 8:58:30
  • 15. Els Visser (NED) – 8:59:16
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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