Patrick Nilsson, Daniela Ryf are IRONMAN Texas champions

IRONMAN Texas

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.

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About yesterday… . . I lined up on the start line of the North American IRONMAN Championships in Texas at 6.30am full of colour @drag2zero 💙 . . The 140.6 miles is what I love and it's where we continue to work everyday to execute a close to 'perfect' race.. . . Yesterday it wasn't too far off the mark.. but heartbreak struck when the 4 girls ahead ran sub 3.01 marathons.. I can't compete with that, Yet. . . I won't shout too loud about the bike course record as I respect we turn up to race an #IRONMAN and getting from A to B 30 seconds quicker would have secured a Kona slot 🌺 for me.. (World Championship start) I know that slot will come when I am ready to take on the Big Island.. I do hope that moment is shared with my trianing @samproctortri.. debut IM yesterday 8th place finish.. #amazing #torqfuelled Thank you @talbotcox for the fantastic shots.. view more www.talbotcox.com/IMTX

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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.

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Pleased that ones over with! A tough day at ironman Texas, my swim was ok nothing to write home about but the good thing was the race was all in ones and twos and there was no big packs. Onto the bike and I felt really good, my legs felt decent and the power was good, the only downside was that I think I tweaked my back the precious Saturday doing some deadlifts. This made holding the aero position pretty hard from about 50 minutes onwards and limited how hard I could go as I could feel it the whole time and didn't want to go to hard that I was unable to finish. I held it together pretty well until about the last 20 minutes when we left the hardy toll and then it was just damage limitation to the finish of the bike. Starting the run and my back was fine, I didn't have any pain or discomfort but I wasnt looking forward to running and as I was going through transition I knew I was in for a slog as my legs felt anything but light and full of spring. I knew I had to at least come away with a Kona spot so it was just a case of grinding through the marathon and getting the job done. As it turned out a few of the guys in front of me were fading and I finished 1 minute behind 3rd place starky. Next race for me is Challenge Championship and then ironman Frankfurt. Thanks to everyone that was following me and sending me messages prior to the race. That was very motivational and it got me through the race as I didn't want to disappoint people. If it wasnt for you all I would have struggled to finish! 📷@digitalknightproductions

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

PRO MEN

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)

PRO WOMEN

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