Record breaking German passes Lionel Sanders to secure Hawaii Ironman crown
David McNamee secures the first ever British men’s podium
Pre-race favourite Jan Frodeno succumbs to injury, while another German, Patrick Lange runs to victory on a record-breaking day in Hawaii which saw all of the podium positions change in the final three miles of the run.
Australia’s Josh Amberger – second recently in the ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships – was the man everyone was talking about pre-race. Would his swim speed increase the pace of the last few years in the water and possibly drag Frodeno, Wiltshire and a few others with him to form a small breakaway group in the water. He certainly increased the pace – but nobody was able to go with him.
Reaching the steps at Dig Me Beach in 47:09, Amberger had built lead of 1:18. Reigning champion Jan Frodeno was second out of the water, leading a group of around 30 athletes spread over the next minute. From a British perspective, both Harry Wiltshire and David McNamee were safely in the top ten along with almost everyone else that was expected to be there – Nilsson, O’Donnell, Lange, Hoffman, Van Lierde, Frommhold and Cunnama.
The answer to the “where are Sanders and Kienle” question was soon answered as they were separated by seconds, 6:30 back on the leader but only five minutes back on the (front) of the main group of leaders. Well and truly in the mix – particularly as they also had IRONMAN Wales winner / Pro cyclist Cameron Wurf and Boris Stein for company.
Alone out of the water, Amberger showed no signs of wanting to wait to be caught, and pushed the pace on the bike in the early stages. Behind him, with defending champion Jan Frodeno in prime position, the chasers weren’t intent on making it easy for the ‘Hawi Express’ group of Kienle / Sanders / Wurf / Stein and co. to catch them either. By the start of the climb to the turnaround at Hawi however, the eponymously named Express has bridged the gap to the chasing group, were just 1:30 back on the front of the race and less than a minute behind Frodeno. Their next step? Keep up the pace and keep with the ‘full gas’ approach.
At Hawi (59 miles), Sanders headed a group of 13 athletes around the turn – a powerful group including Kienle, Wurf, Frodeno, Frommhold, Bozzone, Cunnama, Hoffman, Amberger and Van Lierde from the pre-race favourites. The return leg would soon reduce that group further with Sanders, for a time at least, gapped as his lack of technical skills and descending confidence held him back in the cross-winds.
Having had a goal to break the bike course record, Cameron Wurf lead the race in to T2 (and smashed the bike course record, with a 4:12:54 split), with Sanders in second, 53 seconds back and Kienle next at 1:35. The Canadian (4:14:19) and German (4:14:57) were also inside the old record of Normann Stadler by more than three minutes. 2:15 back on Wurf, Jan Frodeno was still the favourite to win – though that hope would end early in the run.
David McNamee (14th, +10:33) was still in great shape, with Harry Wiltshire 29th at the end of the bike leg, 21:46 behind Wurf.
The Aussie bike pacesetter was never expected to challenge on the run (he would eventually finish 17th), and Canada’s Lionel Sanders quickly took the lead with Kienle, Frodeno and more not too far behind. Would he get the ‘war’ that he wanted?
The first 10-miles is primarily and out-and-back section on Alii Drive, before athletes turn right and run up the hill on Palani. Sanders still held firm at this point, with Kienle (2:27), Hoffman (6:26) and Cunnama (+7:58) the next three athletes. Frodeno was out of contention at this stage and was announced has having withdrawn from the race – which proved wrong, as he would eventually continue and battle through to a distance 35th place finish. The athletes to watch though were Patrick Lange and Great Britain’s David McNamee. Sixth and seventh respectively, they were 8:30 back – but running faster than everyone, including Sanders.
Lange had set a run course record 12 months ago, and was flying – seemingly getting faster during the run. By 20 miles he was just three and a half minutes behind Sanders and just about to overtake Sebastian Kienle to move into second. Also hunting Kienle was the ever-impressive Brit, David McNamee.
Sanders was toughing it out in his ‘it always looks terrible’ running style, while Lange was gliding across the tarmac – and at 23 miles the pass was made. A few moments later and McNamee had passed Kienle and looking set for an IRONMAN World Championship podium. And the clock… was the course record going to go? Was the first Sub-8 in Kona also about to be witnessed?
Sub-8 was out of reach – but a 2:39:59 marathon from Lange brought him to the line in a new Kona record of 8:01:40, to take over the 8:03:56 figures of Craig Alexander. A shattered Sanders finished second in a speedy 8:04:07 (2:51:53 marathon), while David McNamee secured the best British men’s result in Kona history – in both position and speed terms – to cross the line in 8:07:11 for third place. David ran 2:45:30.
IRONMAN World Championship – Saturday 14th October 2017
2.4miles / 112miles / 26.2miles
PRO MEN RESULTS
1st – Patrick Lange (GER) – 8:01:40 (COURSE RECORD)
2nd – Lionel Sanders (CAN) – 8:04:07
3rd – David McNamee (GBR) – 8:07:11
4th – Sebastian Kienle (GER) – 8:09:59
5th – James Cunnama (RSA) – 8:11:24
6th – Terenzo Bozzone (NZL) – 8:13:06
7th – Andy Potts (USA) – 8:14:43
8th – Patrik Nilsson (SWE) – 8:18:21
9th – Ben Hoffman (USA) – 8:19:26
10th – Boris Stein (GER) – 8:22:24
21st – Harry Wiltshire (GBR) – 8:35:41