Daniela Ryf Earns Third-Straight Ironman World Title

Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf further cemented herself in triathlon history, becoming the fourth woman to earn three-straight Ironman world titles. Though she said she didn’t feel great all day, Ryf still turned in a dominant win—putting together a 53:10 swim, a 4:53:10 bike, and a 3:00:02 marathon to claim the victory in 8:50:47. The other podium spots went to Great Britain’s Lucy Charles and Australia’s Sarah Crowley—two athletes who represent the next generation of Ironman stars. 

Race Recap
Super swimmers Lucy Charles (GBR), a Kona rookie, and Lauren Brandon (USA) took control of the swim early, building on their lead with every stroke. The two blazed through the 2.4-mile swim with Charles narrowly leading Brandon out of the water with times of 48:48 and 48:53, respectively. That race-leading mark by Charles missed the course record a mere five seconds.

The next athlete out of the water was American Haley Chura, 3:16 back at 52:03, with the first big group following roughly a minute later. That pack of eight contained several pre-race favorites, including Ironman European and Asia-Pacific champion Sarah Crowley of Australia (53:07), Ryf (53:10), and multiple Kona podium finisher Rachel Joyce (53:15). American Heather Jackson, the 2016 third-place finisher and a favorite to repeat on the podium, headed into transition with some work to do at just over nine minutes back from the fastest swimmers up front.

Charles took control of the bike, with Brandon content to try to keep pace. Early on in the ride, the duo slowly rode away from Ryf and the rest of the field–though that pace couldn’t continue, Charles and Brandon remained strong out front. The gap remained fairly consistent, with the pair holding an approximately five-and-a-half minute lead over Ryf, Crowley and Australia’s Annabel Luxford (AUS) at the turnaround point at Hawi (mile 59).

The scenery stayed mostly the same as the women made their way down the Queen K, until Ryf made a defiant move to the front in the final miles—making up over five minutes in less than 25 miles. She later said she decided “OK I’m going to go or I’m going to lose” at that pivotal point on the bike.

The move paid off, putting her into T2 in the lead with a 40-second lead over Charles, a 1:16 lead over Brandon, a 5:30 lead over Jackson and a 5:56 lead over Luxford.

Ryf extended her lead with every step of the marathon, while things started to shuffle behind her. Brandon struggled to keep pace, while the other top women off the bike—Charles, Crowley and Jackson—looked strong fighting for the final podium positions.

Ryf cruised up through Ali’i Drive, down the Queen K, into the Energy Lab and back into Kona—ultimately posting a 3:00:02 marathon to cross the finish line in 8:50:47—almost exactly four minutes off of her own course record time of 8:46:46 from last year.

“It was the hardest I’ve ever had to fight for a win,” Ryf said at the finish line.

Charles maintained her second-place position throughout most of the marathon, crossing the finish line in the runner-up spot at 8:59:38. Crowley rounded out the top three in her second-ever Kona appearance, finishing her day in 3:05:37. Jackson was the top American woman for the third year in a row, earning fourth in 9:02:29.

2017 Ironman World Championship
Kailua-Kona, Hawaii – Oct. 14, 2017
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile marathon

Women
1. Daniela Ryf (SUI) 8:50:47
2. Lucy Charles (GBR) 8:59:38
3. Sarah Crowley (AUS) 9:01:38
4. Heather Jackson (USA) 9:02:29
5. Kaisa Sali (FIN) 9:04:40
6. Susie Cheetham (GBR) 9:16:00
7. Carrie Lester (AUS) 9:19:49
8. Liz Lyles (USA) 9:20:31
9. Annabel Luxford (AUS) 9:20:58
10. Jocelyn McCauley (USA) 9:21:08