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With its tough hills and heat, the St. George course was widely expected to be one that might cause many athletes to bend and break during the course of the 140.6 miles—and it certainly took its toll on the racers. In the pro men’s field, almost 30% did not finish (DNF), with 27 finishers from 38 starters. In the pro women’s race, however, there was a 100% completion rate with all 22 athletes who started the race making it to the finish line.
While some athletes were forced to stop because of circumstances beyond their control, others said they simply struggled on the day to find their footing. Here’s a rundown of who DNF’d and why.
Aboard his new BMC Red Bull Prototype bike that was making its highly anticipated world debut, Swede Patrik Nilsson decided to end his day around mile 70 on the bike course. He told us: “I felt good to begin with, so I’m frustrated, but out on the bike instead of my power meter showing 300 watts, it showed 250. I’ve had a lot of these race days. Leading up to the race, I felt good, my mind was good, I really thought I could fight for the win or podium. I know my numbers are better now than they’ve ever been, but today it just wasn’t there, for some reason, I’m not sure why. I’ve had some races where I’ve given up too quickly, so this time I really tried to find my legs, but I just couldn’t.”
American Matt Russell also did not finish the bike. On his Instagram, he posted: “A little bit of a heavy heart right now. I had a string of bad luck this morning. By the fifth incident and losing so much time, I decided to throw in the towel. Spending time with family and friends right now. LOVE the sport of triathlon but it’s brutal when things beyond our control pop up. Grateful for all the support I’ve had and already looking forward to some more races in future.”
Kristian Hogenhaug, who some had picked as a dark horse in this race, said on his Instagram that his coach “pulled the plug” for him on the run. He was seen climbing over a barricade at about the halfway point on the run course. He told his Instagram followers: “The last weeks have been a bit of a struggle, weirdly high resting heart rate and heart rate in every single bike and run session. Time for some proper rest.” As a member of the BMC Pro Triathlon Team (of which second-place women’s finisher Kat Matthews is also a part), Hogenhaug said he would be helping Matthews celebrate her “amazing second place.”
With his usually-stellar run, Bart Aernouts is often one to watch on the marathon, but at St. George he never made it that far, dropping out around mile 64 of the bike. The Kona 2018 runner-up called it a “tough one,” posting on Instagram: “Being at the start line of the IM World Championship and not being able to finish feels perhaps like one of the most painful things in ‘my world’ today….both my body and mind didn’t have the energy needed for this brutal race. I hate to step out of a race but I guess it was the best thing I could do. Lack of energy and power from the start would have made it a very long day out there and this time I simply couldn’t do it. No idea or explanations yet, but I don’t like to look for excuses anyway.”
Of the male pros who DNF’ed, perhaps the most notable was German uber-biker Andreas Dreitz, who was involved in a collision with a motorcycle around mile 50 of the bike course.
The other DNFs were: Matt Burton, Denis Chevrot, Mario de Elias, Pedro Gomes, Michael Weiss, and Max Neumann.
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