The women kicked off an exciting weekend of racing in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa.

2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Women's Race
Sarah True of the USA smiles in transition before the start of the race. True had some mechanical trouble on the bike, but rallied for a top 10 finish. Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Ironman
2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Women's Race
Daniela Ryf came into the race as the heavy favorite to claim a fourth 70.3 world title. Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Ironman
2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Women's Race
Canada’s Heather Wurtele and the rest of the pro women get ready for the start of the race. Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Ironman
2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Women's Race
Athletes run into the water at Kings Beach to get the race underway. Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Ironman
2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Women's Race
Last year Ironman split the 70.3 World Championship into two days of racing, and it was hugely successful. The format returned for 2018, with women competing on Saturday and men following on Sunday. Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Ironman
2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Women's Race
Great Britain’s Lucy Charles had a strong lead out of the swim. Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Ironman
2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Women's Race
The bike course offered several scenic spots for the athletes. Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Ironman
2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Women's Race
Canada’s Jenny Fletcher rides past some of farmland that lines the course. Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Ironman
2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Women's Race
Ryf had a small mishap with her chain, but was back on the road within a matter of seconds. Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Ironman
2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Women's Race
Annah Watkinson of South Africa bikes along the coast. Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Ironman
2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Women's Race
Daniela Ryf established the lead early on the bike, with Lucy Charles keeping pace not far behind. Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Ironman
2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Women's Race
Athletes ride up and down the scenic bike course. Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Ironman
2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Women's Race
A triathlete bikes on the 56-mile course. Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Ironman
2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Women's Race
Ryf closed out her day with a 1:17 half-marathon to take the victory. Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Ironman
2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Women's Race
Sylvia Gehnboeck runs past a mural of a whale. Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Ironman
2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Women's Race
Ryf’s suit wouldn’t zip right out of the swim. Though the rules require athletes to zip up their kits, it was overlooked because it was not an intentional act. Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Ironman
2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Women's Race
Charles dug deep but was unable to keep pace with Ryf on the run. Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Ironman
2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Women's Race
Ryf put together a 24:25 swim, a 2:15:28 bike, and a 1:17 half-marathon to take the victory in 4:01:13. Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Ironman
2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Women's Race
Ryf said that many factors forced her to have to be her best on Saturday. Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Ironman
2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Women's Race
At only the age of 24, Lucy Charles is a star on the rise. Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Ironman
2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Women's Race
Anne Haug of Germany posted the fastest half-marathon (1:15:11) to claim the final podium spot. Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Ironman
2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Women's Race
Jeannie Seymour finished seventh in front of her home South African crowd. Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Ironman
2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Women's Race
Only Ryf has won four Ironman 70.3 world titles. Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Ironman
2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Women's Race
Lucy Charles (second), Daniela Ryf (first), and Anne Haug (third) make up the Ironman 70.3 World Championship podium. Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Ironman
2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Women's Race
Ryf will now turn her attention to the Ironman World Championship, where she’ll likely face the same pressure from Lucy Charles on the swim and bike. Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Ironman
2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Women's Race
Ironman only recently added a champagne celebration to its championship races. Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Ironman
2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Women's Race
A lot of effort (qualifying, traveling, and competing) went into earning one of these. Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Ironman

Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf came to Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa as the heavy favorite to defend her title—and she didn’t disappoint. Though she was pushed all the way to the finish line by 2017 Ironman World Championship runner-up Lucy Charles (GBR), her 24:25 swim, 2:15:28 bike, and 1:17:00 run put her across the finish line as the victor in an impressive 4:01:13. Read the complete recap here.