Kona DNF Files: 2019 Edition
What happened to the pros who didn’t finish?
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
With Jan Frodeno taking a record-breaking win and Anne Haug unseating Daniela Ryf, it was a banner day at the 2019 Ironman World Championship – but not for everyone.
After the sweat and sacrifice that comes with training for the biggest race of the year, taking a DNF, or “Did Not Finish,” at Kona can be a heartbreaking experience. This is clear from the words and photos shared on social media by the pros who couldn’t make it to the final stretch on Ali’I Drive.
“Absolutely gutted to have my first ever DNF,” Annett wrote on Instagram, “and at the World Championships, to boot.” The Canadian triathlete crashed into a motorcycle early in the bike portion of the race, damaging her wheel and causing several bruises around her body. Despite an attempt to soldier on after procuring a replacement wheel, Annett succumbed to her injuries and pulled out during the run.
In what he calls a “disappointing day,” Beals chose to drop from the race after experiencing issues with his bike near the Hawi turnaround. “…[A]n unfortunate and unprecedented mechanical issue related to some damage sustained during travel forced me to slow down and eventually stop,” The Canadian pro shared on Facebook.
In her last ride before the race, the Swiss triathlete was in aero position on the road when a car stopped in the shoulder to take photos. Despite a last-minute swerve, Bilham crashed into the bumper and was launched from her bike. Though Bilham toed the line on race day, the injuries sustained in the crash forced her withdrawal after exiting the swim.
Almost immediately after exiting the swim, the German triathlete pulled out of the race, citing “cramps.”
Despite a much-publicized injury to her radius prior to the race, it was a different injury that took the three-time Ironman World Champion out of the 2019 event: “I actually had trouble with my SI joint on the bike,” Rinny wrote on Instagram. “It’s happened a handful of times in my career. Basically starts to tighten up & locks down my entire left glute, adductor, VMO & I can barely turn the pedals. I’m not sure what triggered it, but will find the answer.”
“When you think you are ready again for a tough 8h race, but you are not,” Dreitz captioned his withdrawal photo on Instagram. A nagging shoulder injury sustained weeks before the Kona race flared up after the swim, causing the German pro to withdraw.
After a month of forced rest to heal a running injury, the American triathlete jumped into the fray at Kona – and perhaps too soon. “Running through T1 was the first run on solid ground I’ve done since September 8th, and it was definitely unpleasant…so I knew that finishing the race was not going to be an option,” Hanson shared on Instagram.
The defending champion alarmed spectators when he abruptly pulled to the side of the road 30 miles into the bike leg, then abandoned the race. In a video posted to his Instagram page, Lange explained that a fever the night before the race progressed to dizziness, then blackouts, during the event.
After trying to kick a persistent sore throat in the days leading up to Kona, the German pro thought he was well enough to race – until he quickly realized he wasn’t. In a video posted to Instagram, Loeschke explains his decision to prioritize his health and pull out of the race after the swim.
After exiting the swim in the top five, McCauley seemed primed to position herself competitively on the bike – but her body seemed to disagree. “Jocelyn is pulling from the race. She’s not been able to keep fluids in her body since mile 30,” her race crew announced on social media.
“Never made it to the run today,” the Brit tweeted after withdrawing from the race. “It’s been a tough week on the big island. It’s a thin line between top shape and being sick.”
Despite being in the mix for most of the day, the Kona course eventually got the best of the Swedish pro: “[S]olid first half marathon, then the famous Hawaii got me!” Nilsson wrote on Facebook. “Stomach issues, heat and just beaten down going in to the even more famous energy lab…. Even if a DNF sucks, I guess this is one of the most common races to do so…”
“Kona, you’re just as brutal as you should be,” The Danish pro wrote on social media after the race, claiming she “was ready to have fun, kick ass and smash myself…and I only accomplished the last one.” GI issues caused Pederson to have difficulty fueling throughout the bike, eventually leading to her race crew pulling her from the course early in the run leg.
“I have clung to hope, but it breaks my heart to say that I will not be racing
@IRONMANtri World Champs,” the American pro announced on Twitter the morning of the race. “I am still suffering from bronchitis/pneumonia & to attempt to race breathing through a straw would be pointless.”
After clocking the fastest bike split of the day with a 4:13:18, the wheels fell off for Stein, who wrote on Facebook that he was ignoring pain at the start of the run, until it became too much to bear: “I decided on health and against the finish.”
After an MRI in September uncovered several injuries, Tollakson followed an aggressive rehabilitation plan in hopes of still being able to race in what he thought “may be my last opportunity to race at the Ironman World Championship as a professional.” He confessed in an Instagram post that his desire to race clouded his assessment of health, leading to his DNF: “My body was not ready to race an Ironman, especially in the pro field of the world champs. I didn’t know that for sure until I tried.”
The heat-management issues that plagued Sarah True in races earlier this year reared their ugly head in Kona: “I had hoped that my weird heat issues this season were behind me. They aren’t, and my day in Kona ended in an ice bath partway through the bike course,” she wrote on Instagram.
Mechanical issues took their toll on the Kona rookie: “I had a good swim and felt amazing on the bike. Unfortunately my chain kept coming off which made me have to get off bike and put it back on each time,” Withrow explained on Facebook. “I was able to ride my way back up to my group 3 times before I blew up.”