Daniela Ryf Rewrites the IRONMAN Record Books

Sunday 14 October 2018
On a perfect day with light winds and some of the mildest temperatures in the 40-year history of the IRONMAN World Championship, defending champions Patrick Lange and Daniela Ryf shattered their own course records in what will go down as the fastest race in race history. Ryf's win was particularly historic, as she also broke the overall IRONMAN record with an 8:26:18 finish. That bested Mel Hauschildt's time of 8:31:05 from the IRONMAN North American Championship in May. As if that wasn't impressive enough, Ryf was stung by a jellyfish just before the swim start and questioned whether or not she would be able to make it through the swim.

"I thought, 'I can't give up,' because I'm the defending champion, and I knew little kids would be watching the race, but I didn't know if I could make it through 3.8K in such pain. It was horrible," Ryf said at the finish. "But I told myself that I couldn’t give up because you never know what can happen out here."

Women's Race
To no surprise, Lucy Charles smashed the swim course record, exiting the water in 48:14 with a gap of nearly three minutes on fellow super-swimmer Lauren Brandon. IRONMAN Asia-Pacific champion Teresa Adam was next onto the pier another minute behind, leading out a group that included Helle Frederiksen, Sarah True and Liz Blatchford.

Ryf found herself more than nine minutes back after battling through Kailua Bay in 57:26. The sting from the jellyfish didn't last long, however, as the three-time defending champ made her way through the field, moving from 15th to second by the 30-mile mark. Sarah Crowley was the only athlete able to keep pace with the defending champ, but the pair of chasers couldn't chip away much at Charles' lead as they powered up the hill to Hawi.

Crowley broke shortly after the turnaround, as Ryf surged in an attempt to catch Charles before the start of the marathon. Charle'’ four-minute lead quickly evaporated over the next 40 miles, and in a near replay of last year, Ryf passed Charles near mile-marker 105 and wouldn’t surrender the lead for the rest of the day. In what was no doubt the most impressive of all of today’s record-breaking splits, Ryf finished the ride in 4:26:06 after riding at an average pace of more than 25 mph. That split took 18 minutes off the previous course record.

Charles entered T2 just 1:40 behind Ryf, but the three-time champ made quick work of extending her lead on the out-and-back along Ali'i Drive. Corinne Abraham and Crowley were the next athletes onto the run, with race rookies Sarah True and Anne Haug not far behind.

By the time Ryf made it out to the Energy Lab and was headed back to town, her lead had grown to eight minutes, and the only question that remained was how far she'd lower her own course record. Charles remained steady in second, and the real race was happening between Haug and True for the final spot on the podium. True managed to hold off her fellow Olympian until the 22-mile mark, when Haug made a decisive pass as they headed for home.

By that point, Ryf was already storming down Ali'i Drive with a massive lead for the fourth year in a row, but on this occasion, she was doing it in a time that seemed truly impossible at the beginning of the day. She broke the tape in 8:26:16—20 minutes, 30 seconds faster than her course record from 2016. 
"What a day, I still can't believe what happened," said Ryf at the post-race press conference. "Before the race I said I wanted to do races that people would remember." 

Charles was next across the line 10 minutes later, posting the second-fastest time in race history. Haug rounded out the podium in her Kona debut, ahead of True and three-time champion Mirinda Carfrae, who finished fourth and fifth, respectively. All of the top ten women finished in under nine hours.

Top 10 Pro Women
1 Ryf, Daniela SUI 8:26:18
2 Charles, Lucy GBR 8:36:34
3 Haug, Anne DEU 8:41:58
4 True, Sarah USA 8:43:43
5 Carfrae, Mirinda AUS 8:50:45
6 Crowley, Sarah AUS 8:52:30
7 Sali, Kaisa FIN 8:54:28
8 Naeth, Angela CAN 8:57:36
9 Abraham, Corinne GBR 8:57:55
10 Corbin, Linsey USA 8:58:58
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