How History Was Made at the 2018 Ironman World Championship

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The 40th anniversary of the Ironman World Championship was an event to remember. The 2018 race saw record after record fall as the triathletes made their way through the legendary—and extremely challenging—Kona course.

Records were set on the men’s and women’s side, and things ended with a major surprise: a proposal from champion and Oakley athlete Patrick Lange. The German-born triathlete set a course record, while on the women’s side, Daniela Ryf took home her fourth-straight title, setting another course record in the process.

 

 

The 2018 course took the competitors on a 2.4 mile swim out in Kailua Bay before sending them on a 112 mile bike ride on the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway. The riders then flipped around at all-important turn in Hawi, where they were allowed to fuel up with nutrients before heading towards the final course, the 26.2 mile run. Course conditions were good on Saturday, which allowed Lange to complete the first-ever sub-8-hour finish at the event.

Al Bello/Getty Images for IRONMAN

The race, which originally started by combining the the 2.4-mile Waikiki Roughwater Swim, 112 miles of the Around-Oahu Bike Race, and the 26.2-mile Honolulu Marathon, had over 2,400 total entries in 2018, making it one of the biggest championship races ever. Back when Ironman founders John and Judy Collins started the race, it only had 15 entrants and was on a completely different island from where it is now.

“There’s no way back then anyone expected things to get this big,” Ironman announcer and Hall of Famer Mike Reilly said to the crowd at the finish-line when he brought out the Collins’ to honor them for their contributions to the sport. Reilly spent over 15 hours out on the course greeting finishers, from Lange, to Ryf, to the 86-year-old man who finished just ahead of the cutoff, shouting out his classic “You are an Ironman” line to every one of them.

A Stellar Field of Athletes

Before the start of the race, Ironman race commentator and 1994 Ironman World Championship winner Greg Welch told Men’s Journal that this field was a very talented one. While triathlete Jan Frodeno would have been one of the favorites, he suffered an injury a few months before the event and had to pull out, leaving his fellow countryman Patrick Lange to take the spotlight.

“This was a very strong field on the men’s side,” Welch said. “Lange won the 2017 race, and the group of David McNamee, Braden Currie, Javier Gomez, Andy Potts, Andrew Starykowicz, Josh Amberger, and Lionel Sanders all had a chance to place high here.”

Patrick Lange of Germany competes on the bike during the IRONMAN World Championships brought to you by Amazon on October 13, 2018 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. (Photo by Nils Nilsen/Getty Images for IRONMAN)
Nils Nilsen/Getty Images for IRONMAN

Welch predicted that Amberger would be one of the early swim leaders, and that Wurf and Starykowicz would battle it out closely when the bike portion of the race started. Welch ended up being exactly right.

Amberger had the lead for the men coming out of the 2.4 swim portion, and at the 77 mile mark of the bike race, it was Wurf, Amberger, and Starykowicz in the Top 3. Wurf ended up setting a Kona course bike record with a time of 4 hours, 9 minutes, and 6 seconds, but even that wasn’t enough to hold off Lange.

Lange’s Historic Finish

Lange was able to make up a lot of time during the running portion of the race, finishing with a course-record 7 hours, 52 minutes, and 39 seconds, four minutes ahead of second-place finisher Bart Aernouts. During the race, Lange was aided by his Oakley eyewear equipped with Prizm, which helped improve his performance with precise color tuning and clarity on the course. For as incredible as Lange’s performance was, he had one major surprise up his sleeve when he finished.

As Lange was being interviewed by Reilly at the finish line, he turned towards his girlfriend and said that he “promised himself” that if he broke the course record he’d have something else to do in Kona. With his body likely barely holding itself up, Lange got down on one knee and asked his girlfriend to marry him. As Julia Hofmann started crying, Reilly screamed out to the crowd, “she said yes!”

Patrick Lange of Germany proposes to his girlfriend Julia Hofmann after Lange sets a course record of 7:52:39 to win the IRONMAN World Championship brought to you by Amazon on October 13, 2018 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. (Photo by Nils Nilsen/Getty Images for IRONMAN)
Nils Nilsen/Getty Images for IRONMAN

Daniela Ryf’s Record Performance—and Lucy Charles’s Record Swim

The proposal wasn’t the only amazing feat at the finish line. The women’s pro group had an incredible performance from Ryf as well. After coming out of the water around 12 minutes behind swim leader and Oakley athlete Lucy Charles—who Welch predicted would swim into the back of the men’s group, which she did and set a swim course record in the process at 48 minutes, 13 seconds—Ryf quickly made up time.

Here’s a look at Charles’s swim:

Ryf passed by Charles on the bike course despite being nine minutes back when she started on the route, and she never gave back her lead. Ryf kept pushing hard and ended up setting a bike course record at 4 hours, 26 minutes, and 7 seconds, setting up another amazing finish by the Swiss star. Both Lange and Charles were aided by Oakley eyewear equipped with Prizm technology, giving each of them a clear and detailed look at the course.

Daniela Ryf of Switzerland celebrates after setting the course record of 8:26:16 to win the IRONMAN World Championships brought to you by Amazon on October 13, 2018 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images for IRONMAN)
Al Bello/Getty Images for IRONMAN

Just like Lange, Ryf set a course record by finishing in 8 hours, 26 minutes, and 16 seconds, giving Ryf her fourth straight win at the Ironman World Championship.

Here’s a look at Ryf’s finish:

Here are the full Top 10 finishers on the Men’s and Women’s sides of the 2018 Ironman World Championship from Kona:

Pro Men
1. Patrick Lange (GER) — 7:52:39 (Course Record)
2. Bart Aernouts (BEL) — 7:56:41
3. David McNamee (GBR) — 8:01:09
4. Tim O’Donnell (USA) — 8:03:17
5. Braden Currie (NZL) — 8:04:41
6. Matt Russell (USA) — 8:04:45
7. Joe Skipper (GBR) — 8:05:54
8. Andy Potts (USA) — 8:09:34
9. Cameron Wurf (AUS) — 8:10:32
10. Michael Weiss (SUI) — 8:11:04

Pro Women
1. Daniela Ryf (SUI) — 8:26:16 (Course Record)
2. Lucy Charles (GBR) — 8:36:32
3. Anne Haug (GER) — 8:41:57
4. Sarah True (USA) — 8:43:42
5. Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) — 8:50:44
6. Sarah Crowley (AUS) — 8:52:29
7. Kaisa Sali (FIN) — 8:54:26
8. Angela Naeth (CAN) — 8:57.34
9. Corinne Abraham (GBR) — 8:57:54
10. Linsey Corbin (USA) — 8:58:57



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