Patrick Lange Breaks Course Record to Earn First Ironman World Title

Germany’s Patrick Lange showed last year’s run course record and podium was no fluke, breaking the overall Ironman World Championship course record and claiming the victory in 8:01:40. The day was all about speed in the men’s race as Australia’s Josh Amberger flew threw the swim, Australia’s Cameron Wurf smashed the bike course record and Lange put together the fastest race this course has ever seen. 

Race Recap
Australia’s Josh Amberger said several times during race week that he was looking forward to pushing the pace on the swim, and he didn’t disappoint. The first-time Kona participant finished the 2.4-mile swim in 47:09 (the 7th fastest swim split here on record), 1:19 ahead of two-time Ironman world champion Jan Frodeno, along with a huge group totaling 32 athletes that included eventual winner Lange.

With the massive group heading down the road, the attention turned to when Sebastian Kienle (GER) and Lionel Sanders (CAN) would emerge from Kailua Bay and if they would come out together. They hit land within seconds of each other (Sanders at 53:41 in 40th and Kienle at 53:44 in 41st), about six and a half minutes back of Amberger—about five minutes back of the main pack.

Amberger reveled in his rookie Kona experience, leading all the way up the Queen K and holding a 33-second lead over the main group to start the climb up to Hawi at mile 43. The big story of the race was happening behind the Aussie, as super cyclists Sanders and Kienle quickly rode through the field, finding the front of the race up the climb. Sanders didn’t hesitate to take the top spot, leading a long group of athletes as they neared the turnaround. At Hawi, the front pack included Sanders, Kienle, Tim O’Donnell (USA), Cameron Wurf (AUS), Ben Hoffman (USA), Igor Amorelli (BRA), Nils Frommhold (GER), Terenzo Bozzone (NZL), Amberger, Frodeno, Frederik Van Lierde (BEL), and James Cunnama (RSA). Though there was a big group coming down from Hawi, it was clear this race would break apart before the athletes completed the trip on the Queen K.

Wurf—a former pro cyclist—Sanders, and Kienle were the instigators after the turn, breaking away with the clear motivation of leaving the fast runners behind.

At the mile-87 mark at Waikoloa, that trio held a one-minute gap to the main group. As is tradition in the race, things really blew apart as the athletes got closer to T2. Wurf was the strongest out front, earning the top spot into T2 and shattering Normann Stadler’s 4:18:23 2006 bike course record with a 4:12:54 split. Sanders was next at 54 seconds back (and also breaking that old record in 4:14:19), with Kienle following at 1:36 back. Frodeno was fourth off the bike at only 2:16 back and it looked like he was in prime position to run through the field.

As the men went onto the marathon course Wurf quickly faded—establishing Sanders as the new leader. The big story was Frodeno, who was in obvious pain and by mile three had slowed to a walk.

Sanders ran strong out front, averaging a 5:56 minute/mile in the first three miles. The hard bike ride quickly took its toll as pre-race contenders, including Hoffman and O’Donnell, struggled to keep pace.

As the athletes entered the Queen K and moved toward the toughest part of the marathon, Sanders slowed a bit with Kienle looking strong in second. The biggest mover of the day was run course record holder Patrick Lange (GER). Lange came off of the bike in 11th at 10:23 back, but by mile 13 had already moved up to third, only 6:28 back from the lead.

Lange made the pass at 23 miles into the marathon, putting an end to Sanders’ time in the lead. Brit David McNamee passed Kienle for third place in the final three miles of the run.

Lange looked strong all the way to the finish, finishing his day with a stellar 2:39:59 marathon to cross the finish line in a new course record time of 8:01:40. The previous record was 8:03:56, established in 2011 by Australia’s Craig Alexander.

An emotional Lange was nearly speechless at the finish line. “It’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of,” was all he could say. He also apologized to Alexander (as he did to Mark Allen when he broke his run course record in 2016).

Lange talks to Mike Reilly at the finish. Photo: Oliver Baker

Sanders struggled to the finish line, ultimately finishing second in 8:04:07—by far his best finish at this race. McNamee rounded out the podium with a 2:45:30 marathon, crossing the line at 8:07:11. USA’s Andy Potts was the first American across the finish line in seventh.

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

Men
1. Patrick Lange (GER) 8:01:40
2. Lionel Sanders (CAN) 8:04:07
3. David McNamee (GBR) 8:07:11
4. Sebastian Kienle (GER) 8:09:59
5. James Cunnama (RSA) 8:11:24
6. Terenzo Bozzone (NZL) 8:13:06
7. Andy Potts (USA) 8:14:43
8. Patrik Nilsson (SWE) 8:18:21
9. Ben Hoffman (USA) 8:19:26
10. Boris Stein (GER) 8:22:24

Photo: Oliver Baker