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© David Pearce /
Daniela Ryf is the Queen of Kona 2015
Posted by: John Levison
Posted on: Sunday 11th October 2015

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Switzerland's Daniela Ryf breaks nine hours to win Ironman World Champs in style

Pre-race favourite Daniela Ryf delivers on all expectations to add the Ironman World title to her Ironman 70.3 and Ironman European Championship wins this earlier this season – mirroring the results of men's winner Jan Frodeno.

It was an odd situation in many ways. Since her debut in the race in 2009, Australia's Mirinda Carfrae has finished 2nd / 1st / 2nd / 3rd / 1st / 1st at the Ironman World Championships, a streak of six career Kona podiums. Given that two of those second places were to the unbeaten four-time World Champion Chrissie Wellington, Carfrae clearly has the key to Kona. And yet, all of the pre-race talk and favourite status was on Switzerland's Daniela Ryf, whom Carfrae pipped to the title last year courtesy of a race record 2:50:26 marathon. The stage was set - Carfrae would, one imagines, arrive either pressure free of external expectation, or with an inner fire as if to say, "don't underestimate me... have you not seen my record here?". Alas, the what might have happened was ended arguably ended during race week when Carfrae was involved in a bike crash which left her on the bonnet of a car. While she tried to put that behind her, by the midway point on the bike course the three-time champion had withdrawn from the race.

©Richard Melik/

©Richard Melik/

Describing earlier in the week Kona being her destiny, Great Britain's Jodie Swallow was in typically aggressive race mode in the swim. Exiting with a 55:04 split, she was just over a minute clear of the chasers headed by 2012 champion Leanda Cave, a group of 13 separated by just 15 seconds. Rachel Joyce was in there too, as were favourite including Ryf, Caroline Steffen, Mary Beth Ellis and Liz Blatchford.

Susie Cheetham had a great start to her day, a 57:39 swim leaving her in a great position in perhaps her weakest discipline, while the 1:05:08 of Lucy Gossage would likely have been down on her hopes an expectations, certainly relative to her good friend Cheetham.

©Richard Melik/

That chase group would close the gap down to Swallow within the first hour, though uncharacteristically, Rachel Joyce was not part of that group and losing time. By the time of the turn at Hawi, 60-miles in, Ryf had started to make her move though the aggressive racing style of Swallow was clear to see, just 12 seconds back, while Mary Beth Ellis, Camilla Pedersen, Annabel Luxford and Michelle Vesterby followed within the next two minutes. Leanda Cave (after a bike crash which would eventually force her out of the race), and Rachel Joyce were close on seven minutes behind the Angry Bird at this stage. With a big gap to make up after the swim, Lucy Gossage was doing just that further down the field, closing up towards Susie Cheetham.

©Richard Melik/

As always in Kona, the second half of the ride is where the real gaps tend to develop - and on a scorching day with little cloud cover, conditions were challenging for everyone. Over the next 30 miles Ryf extended her lead over Swallow to three minutes, with Pedersen, Beth Ellis and Luxford five minutes back. Denmark's Michelle Vesterby was having a fine race six minutes down on Ryf, while Rachel Joyce was in the company of Angela Naeth and Liz Blatchford nine minutes in arrears.

Ryf reached T2 courtesy of a 4:50:47 bike split, which more importantly gave her a significant 7:25 margin over Swallow who was followed into transition by Beth Ellis, Pedersen, Vesterby, Naeth and Joyce. For Naeth, that would be her day over thanks to a foot injury. Having raced perfectly to this point, Ryf looked in complete control and set to take her first Ironman World Championship title.

©Richard Melik/

Ryf showed no signs of weakness on the run. Her 3:06:37 marathon wasn't Carfrae-esque - but it was only a few seconds shy of the best of the day from Liz Blatchford. Rachel Joyce found her stride on the run to move through to second and her third consecutive year on the Kona podium - while Blatchford's marathon efforts resulted in a repeat of her 2013 third place. Celebration of the day however goes to fourth-placed Michelle Vesterby. I think she is still dancing, and certainly smiling.

The lack of mid-season training would prove too much for Swallow who left everything she had on the course, but ultimately was forced out of the race, while Susie Cheetham (sixth) and Lucy Gossage (tenth), can be rightly proud of their efforts. Three Brits in the top ten, without Cave and Swallow (DNF), or the pre-race withdrawal of Corinne Abraham. Fantastic Strength-in-depth from the Brits.

©Getty Images for Ironman

Ironman World Championship, Saturday 10th October 2015
2.4miles / 112 miles / 26.2miles - Kona, Hawaii

Pos Women
1st Daniela Ryf (SUI) 8:57:57
2nd Rachel Joyce (GBR) 9:10:59
3rd Liz Blatchford (AUS) 9:14:52
4th Michelle Vesterby (DEN) 9:18:50
5th Heather Jackson (USA) 9:21:45
6th Susie Cheetham (GBR) 9:23:50
7th Sarah Piampiano (USA) 9:24:32
8th Camilla Pedersen (DEN) 9:25:41
9th Caroline Steffen (SUI) 9:27:54
10th Lucy Gossage (GBR) 9:28:36

#GBKONA 2015 Coverage

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