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18 October 2017
If you are a fan of endurance sports then you know Kona was a hotbed of activity last weekend with the Ironman World Championships. As they have since 1978, competitors gathered in Hawaii to see who would earn the ultimate honor, to stand atop the podium as the best female and male triathlete in the world. The course distances remain the same as they have since the 70's - a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bicycle, and a 26.2 mile run making this one of the most grueling one day sporting events known to man.
In order to qualify for the World Championships professional athletes have to rank in a points system where the top 35 women and the top 50 men gain admittance. Amateur triathletes can earn a spot too by finishing at the top of their age group in any of the 38 Ironman qualifying events held around the world.
With a finish time of 8:50:47, Daniela Ryf of Switzerland took the women's top spot for a third year in a row. This makes Ryf the fourth woman in event history to three-peat a first place finish. But this win didn't come as smoothly for Ryf as her 2016 course record finish of 8:46:46 did. Ryf admits the wind and heat played a part in this year's race stating, "It was the hardest I've had to fight for a win."
Ryf exited the water at 53:10, a full 4 minutes plus change behind Kona newcomer Lucy Charles of Great Britain. Charles held the lead well into the bike with Ryf slipping to 5 minutes behind with little time and miles left to gain a competitive edge. This is precisely where Ryf's experience and maturity paid off. She surged into the lead with less than 25 miles left on the bike, making up her 5 minute deficit and padding it with a 40 second lead on Charles into the run. Ryf turned up the heat on the marathon, running a consistent sub 7 minute pace over the entire course for a 3:00:02 finish time. Ryf's closest competitor at the finish was still Charles, who finished a respectable 9 minutes behind.
I predict Ryf comes back even stronger next year for a fourth consecutive Ironman World Championship win. Ryf was able to rebound on the bike and make up a significant time deficit because she was hungry. She made a gutsy move beyond the mid-race mark that could have easily cost her the win. It's do or die that far into a race. This proves to me that Ryf is just getting warmed up. Her commitment to her craft, her determination, focus, and raw talent will make her the one to beat next year. It is obvious to me that Ryf's mindset is preset for success. Some might think it's too soon, but I'm looking ahead to 2018 and Ryf standing for a fourth year in a row at the number one position. Ryf is unbeatable, because she won't let herself lose.
Ryf For Four For Sure
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