After two and a half years without one, Saturday 8 May finally saw a return to racing for the Ironman World Championship, and what a return it was.
Despite a host of withdrawals, including a last-minute dropout from Alistair Brownlee and Gustav Idenspectators were treated to a great race, with the tough course providing plenty of action.
Pre-race favourite Kristian Blummenfelt charged his way forward on the run to win the men’s event and the Norwegian now holds the world title for Ironman, the Olympics and World Triathlon.
He was joined on the podium by Canadian Lionel Sanders and Kiwi Braden Currie, who had been at or near the front for most of the race.
In the women’s race, Daniela Ryf was in a league of her own as she delivered a dominant performance from start to finishwinning her fifth Ironman world title.
Meanwhile, Brit Kat Matthews demonstrated exactly why many were tipping her for the podium pre-raceputting in a steely, determined and powerful performance to finish second. Germany’s Anne Haug finished third, just a few minutes back after delivering a typically fast time on the run.
Now, a couple of days on from that scorching day in St George, we take a look at some of the reaction to the race…
Blummenfelt was typically understated with his words post-race, though his image choice was anything but. The Norwegian simply wrote: “About to sink in.”
British triathlete Kat Matthews only went pro in 2019, but delivered a brilliant performance here to take second behind Daniela Ryf. Having spoken to her before the race about her hopes, we’d suggest she’s pretty happy with her performance, and her Instagram post seems to back that up.
“What an adventure that race was! I smiled at one point (the only time I think) whilst I had a moment of realisation that I was racing at the front of the IM WC with Daniela on the bike and we were pulling away. It was incredible! (Then I got dropped bad)… but one day. I aspire to be better!
“And @rastle07 5th in the world!! Herooooo!!!”
This was a masterful performance from Ryf and she clearly enjoyed proving the doubters wrong.
“I’m back,” she wrote. “Well, I actually never left.
“To all my fans: huge thanks for your amazing support.
“To all the doubters: thanks for the motivation.”
This was the second silver medal for the Canadian at the Ironman World Championship and one that he was understandably proud of.
“Had an amazing experience yesterday at the @ironmantri World Championship. Raced my own race pretty well from start to finish.
“It was a win for me because I have never run the second half of the marathon well in the heat.
“Huge congrats to @kristianblu and @bradencurrie on excellent performances and everyone else who persevered on a very hard course in tough conditions.”
Another Brit that only joined the pro ranks recently. Ruth Astle was the age-group champion in 2019 and went pro. Here, she secured an impressive fifth place.
“What a day,” she wrote. Had dreams of top five and even potentially sneaking onto the podium but super chuffed with 5th at the IMWC. Savage course!
“Thank you for all the most amazing support out there, made a huge difference.”
After Alistair Brownlee pulled out on the eve of the race due to illnessDavid McNamee was Britain’s only hope in the men’s race.
He’s stood on the podium twice before at an Ironman World Championship but had to settle for ninth here.
“9th at World Champs (St George edition),” he wrote. “It might just be a one off Ironman championship venue but St George put on a show.
“Thanks for all the support out there today. Currently lying in bed with two bags of ice on my quads to ease their suffering and a beer in my hands (to help me sleep).”
Germany’s Haug demonstrated her prowess on the run as she chased down Matthews in second, but seemingly couldn’t make up the time quick enough, with the Brit digging deep to pull a result out of the bag.
Despite ending up on the bottom step of the podium, the former champion seemed happy with her performance: ““It was unbelievably hard, cycling was brutal,” she wrote (translated). “In the marathon, it was dying instalments. I’m super happy that I was able to defend my third place.”
On the face of it, Long’s 15th place may seem disappointing, but when you consider he was hit by a car in the lead-up to the race, it seems like a very decent recent result.
Reacting to the day’s action, Long wrote: “All things considered I actually am very happy with my performance yesterday. Plans changed after I got hit by a car. I am lucky not to be in the hospital.
“It was a fight and I had to do everything to make it to the start line. Part of this was downplaying my crash so that I could convince my self mentally. It’s of course a hard experience as I truly committed and dedicated myself to a single race performance for the first time in my life…but sometimes tragedy hits.
“I was extremely happy to finish yesterday because here is the thing: it was my way of moving past the crash. There is no justice in this crime and this was my only way to make peace.
“Furthermore, the last week was made harder as my brother was hit by a car when we were only 4. This race was also about making peace to that. Ultimately all the people who have been hit by cars and had their lives ruined. I realistically knew my expectations should have been lower but wanted to fight till my hip went out (2 hours into the bike).”
One of four Brits to make the top 10, Fenella Langridge had positives and negatives to take away from her eighth-place finish.
“First and foremost WOW what a race. Our women’s professional field definitely brought their A game and the course lived up to its challenging expectations! great racing girls!!
“But what made this race so epic was all the support and cheers. So sooo many people shouting our names. When I was feeling LOW and there were a few moments I couldn’t help but smile through the disappointment and ROCK ON. Thank you everyone.
“Did I mention I’m 8th in the WORLD, yay.
“However, I leave disappointed in myself and angry. I only have myself to blame. If your going to make mistakes you can’t afford to make them at a race at this level. The other girls are just TOO good.”
Langridge explains she lost one of her bike bottles before the race, had a wetsuit issue in T1 and received a five-minute time penalty for creeping into the draft zone.
“I could of broken down and thrown all my toys out the pram at any of these points,” she wrote. “I won’t lie, the first 10km of the run was a non event. But I found motivation, and yet again I say I’m so thankful for all the support for helping me smile and get to the finish line.
“100% finish rate for the professional women … we are made of tough stuff!”
Danish triathlete Daniel Baekkegard emerged from the swim at the very front of the field with Frenchman Sam Laidlow, taking to the bike with the lead pack. However, he later faded to a seventh-place finish after putting everything into the swim and bike.
Writing about the race in an Instagram post on his profile, he said: “Brutal. St George didn’t disappoint in level of hurt! 7th place in a race where I swam and rode my chance. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough left in the tank to be in contention on the run.
“Even though the end result wasn’t what I have been training for, I loved the atmosphere here! Thank you to all of you who supported me and cheered on me during the day. You guys carried me and motivated me immensely! Thank you to my whole team who brought me here in a condition to compete on top level. Back to the drawing board.”
Another Brit in the top 10. Laura Siddall delivered a composed performance to grab a seventh-place finish. reacting to the result, she wrote: “7th in the world. Not sure it’s sunk in yet.
“More to come but a huge thank you to all the support, the messages, not just this week and today, but for months. And to the brands that believe in me – thank you!
“Massive congrats to Daniela Ryf, Kat Matthews and Anne Haug and to all the pro women. We all finished. And to everyone who raced today! Massive efforts!”
New Zealand’s Kyle Smith was a surprise package in that he led much of the race, only to fall back on the final discipline.
Her shared his take on the day on Instagram: “Absolutely brutal day out there today I’m not going to lie to you. Blew up big time on the run and hobbled myself to the finish. 11th place over the line left a lot to be desired but I’m proud of how I battled out there.
“It was an honor to lead this amazing race and has left me hungry to figure out the next 37k of the run. Thank you to everyone for the support and massive kudos to @bradencurrie on the podium. Well deserved mate and amazing to see.”