Club La Santa

Patrick Nilsson, Daniela Ryf are IRONMAN Texas champions

Chief Correspondent

Impressive Nilsson adds another Sub-8 IRONMAN victory to his C.V.


Daniela Ryf wins… but Jocelyn McCauley pushes her all the way

I did say it was a BIG weekend – which is why I’m still catching up on the reports, so next up is the IRONMAN North American Championships, Texas.

Pro Women

Ahead of Texas, my thoughts were: “I can’t forecast anything other than a Ryf victory on Saturday. By a big margin.” Fair to say I can only claim a 50% success ratio on that statement.

When Daniela Ryf was first out of the water in her weakest (?!) discipline, surely the story of the race was done and dusted? Far from it.

She had Jocelyn McCauley (USA) and Jeanni Seymour (RSA) for company – and 112 miles of cycling later, McCauley had not let the four time IRONMAN World Champion out of her sight.

In the meantime, Great Britain’s Kimberley Morrison had put her 3:44:50 100-mile TT legs to good use by turning her four+ minute swim deficit and making it a case of “three’s company” at T2. That trio were a long way clear, 17 minutes up on Seymour.

Morrsion was quickest through T2 and first out on to the run, enjoying that moment – but knowing, for now at least, that was unlikely to last for too long. She’s playing the long game and that run is an ongoing work-in-progress.

What was also unlikely, or so I / we / everyone thought, was Daniela Ryf not leading – but when you consider Jocelyn McCauley won IRONMAN New Zealand this year in course record time, finishing with a 2:58 marathon, it was not going to be an easy jog. And so it proved.

Ryf was actually slow out of the blocks and it took her a fair while to pass Morrison, by which time McCauley was gone, holding a lead which fluctuated around the two minute mark for the first 30km, before the Angry Bird finally started to chip away at that lead, finally moving to the front with less than 8km to go.

Jeanni Seymour was also moving well on the run and claiming back the time lost on the bike, closing down on Morrison who she passed shortly after the 32km mark to move into the final podium spot, pushing Kimberley back into fourth. With Ryf and McCauley already Kona qualified, that would have been enough for Morrison to claim one of the two spots on offer but Lesley Smith (USA) – only just – managed to take that fourth position in the very final stages.

Pro Men

While Alexander Berggren (SWE) lead the swim, it was another Swede, Patrik Nilsson, who would put together a complete performance and ultimately take a big win by close on 11 minutes. Before then, to nobody’s surprise, there Andrew Starykowicz (USA) would shape the race in his typical uber-biking style.

After the ‘short course’ mess of 2018, that was resolved this year and Starky powered away at the front and reached T2 via a 4:03:02 split. Nilsson ‘only’ lost 10 minutes to Starykowicz with a 4:13:18, which saw him reach T2 with a nine minute deficit. David Plese (SLO) was next in 16 minutes down, with the Brits at 19 minutes (Will Clarke), 21 minutes (Joe Skipper) and 25 minutes (Sam Proctor). While the gaps were big, all of those athletes can run and they were well inside the top ten and in contention. The day would soon end for Will Clarke however:

Once Nilsson was into his stride, he was cutting into the lead of Starykowicz but the American knows how to dig deep and would not close that gap until into the second half of the run, and he would push on to close out an impressive all-round race with a 2:42:41 marathon.

Also running well was third off the bike, David Plese (SLO) and he would move into second place in the final 5km, stopping his marathon clock with a 2:46:23. Joe Skipper moved through the field at T2 and finished with a 2:44:39 run, but that was not enough to take that final podium slot – the top three athletes at T2, taking the top three positions overall. As always, Andrew left it all out there…

Huge respect to Sam Proctor, who in his IRONMAN debut clocked a finish time of 8:14:17 to take eighth place in the Regional Championship IRONMAN event. He finished with a 2:50:18 marathon – and only Tom Lowe has ever been faster on their full distance debut among British athletes. That’s a big step up from winning the Outlaw Half Holkham last year.

While Morrison missed out, fourth was good news for Joe Skipper as his start in Kona for the IRONMAN World Championship is now assured.

IRONMAN Texas, North American Championship – Saturday 27th April 2019
3.8km / 180km / 42.2km


1st – Patrik Nilsson (SWE) – 7:50:55
2nd – David Plese (SLO) – 8:01:50
3rd – Andrew Starykowicz (USA) – 8:03:53
4th – Joe Skipper (GBR) – 8:05:03
5th – Matt Hanson (USA) – 8:09:28
6th – Kyle Buckingham (RSA) – 8:11:21
7th – Michael Weiss (AUT) – 8:13:05
8th – Sam Proctor (GBR) – 8:14:17
9th – Mauricio Mendez Cruz (MEX) – 8:15:44
10th – Pedro Gomes (POR) – 8:18:18

17th – Pete Dyson (GBR) – 8:44:29
DNF – Will Clarke (GBR)


1st – Daniela Ryf (SUI) – 8:37:48
2nd – Jocelyn McCauley (USA) – 8:39:41
3rd – Jeanni Seymour (RSA) – 8:58:03
4th – Lesley Smith (USA) – 9:03:17
5th – Kimberley Morrison (GBR) – 9:03:45
6th – Dimity-Lee Duke () – 9:22:56
7th – Jeannie Hansen (USA) – 9:37:25
8th – Natasha Van Der Merwe (USA) – 9:38:19
9th – Hilary Fenton (USA) – 9:48:00
10th – Palmira Alvarez (USA) – 9:54:00

John Levison
Written by
John Levison
TRI247's Chief Correspondent, John has been involved in triathlon for well over 30 years, 15 of those writing on these pages, whilst he can also be found commentating for events across the UK.
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