Finally , the most anticipated event of the year comes to an end.
- Some athletes witnessed their “zero to hero” story written in real time, while others floundered.
- Big names rose to expectations, while others crumbled under pressure…
- Events were action-packed, with surprise winners and uncountable records over the new formats.
So let’s take a closer look at this year’s World Championships :
What was new in 2022?
The main organisational difference for this year’s edition was the introduction of two separate days of racing. The premier event of the first day predominantly gave the women, both pro and amateur, their day to shine exclusively without competition for glory. The men, both elite and age groupers, got their own day two days later.
This new format put in place a bigger overall event, bringing in more athletes than ever. While not without controversy (some Kona locals felt the event had grown too large for its relatively small venue), overall, for the sport, the new format was generally considered a success. The splitting of the event into two days gave the organisers the ability to focus on quality for each of the races, and the women’s event finally received the full attention it deserves.
The pro women’s event was first on the “menu”, with most of the favourites on the start line.
Epic swimmer Lucy Charles-Barclay was first out of the water, with a 40 second advantage over the first group of 4 … another large group exited the water 3 minutes and 45 seconds behind the Brit with the main favourite Daniela Ryf sitting 7 minutes behind the leader.
Chance for victory was cut short for the likes of Laura Philipp, Sarah Crowley and Lisa Norden, who all took penalties during the bike phase.
The biggest surprise of this edition’s World Championships was American Chelsea Sodaro, who lifted the tape at the finish line with 7 minutes to spare over Lucy Charles-Barclay, boasting the fastest run of the day, very close to a course record, in 2 hours 51 minutes and 45 seconds.
She dedicated her win to her 18-month old daughter, who waited for her mommy at the finish line.
Second place was, yet again, Lucy Charles-Barclay, who scored her 4th podium in the World Championships to date. Germany’s Anne Haug completed the podium.
One of the biggest surprises of the day was from race favourite Daniela Ryf, who, after coming first out of T2, lost more than 30 minutes to Chelsea on the run segment. It’s difficult to always have your perfect day in this extreme event.
Boy, oh boy!
Despite the absence of many favourites, including Athletica’s own Alistair Brownlee, the men’s race was still stacked with firepower.
And it didn’t disappoint, delivering a fast and furious race full of record beating performances. Florian Angert led a massive pack of 16 athletes out of the water, including the favourites Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden. Another group with Patrick Lange and Magnus Ditlev followed 1 minute and 30 seconds behind, with another group including Sebastian Kienle and Lionel Sanders exiting 4 minutes and 40 seconds from the lead group.
Sam Laidlow was the one to shine on the bike, pushing the pace hard, putting more than 6 minutes into the Norwegian group and setting a new bike course record of 4 hours 4 minutes and 36 seconds in the process, shattering Cameron Wurf’s old record by almost 5 minutes! (who declared “he gave everything” to finish 11th).
The record bike put massive pressure on the Norwegian squad, meaning the run pace was frantic. Only one of the two Norwegian’s could deliver, with Iden taking the lead in the race at km 36 and never looked back … Laidlow held off Blummenfelt for second place, while Blummenfelt held off Max Newman to secure the last podium spot. Blummenfelt was so broken from the effort it took him nearly an hour to recover to attend the podium ceremony.
A record breaking day
Gustav’s performance was even more impressive if we take a look at his times.
His record marathon run of 2:36:15 (more than 3 minutes under the previous fastest run held by Patrick Lange), allowed the Norwegian to lift the tape in an incredible 7 hours 40 minutes and 24 seconds, breaking the Kona course record by more than 11 minutes.
In fact, the first 4 athletes finished the race under Jan Fredeno’s previous record time, and an incredible 10 athletes finished under 8 hours — a time that only 5 years ago might have been considered a stretch. Sub-8 now appears to be the benchmark for a top-10 performance.
Athletica showcased a handful of athletes to the world championship race, with every one of them demonstrating their true fighting spirit in completing the race. Let’s meet them :
In the women’s race, and all in the 30-34 category, we were proudly represented by Canada’s Nicole Walker who placed 10th with a time of 10:21:12, Britain’s Brianna Stubbs placing 22nd with a time of 10:45:33 and America’s Chi Pham crossing the line 32nd in 11 hours 1 minute and 1 second. These are all incredible individual performances, especially considering that there were hundreds of finishers in this age category alone.
The men’s race saw America’s Emmanuel Lopez top the 35-39 category for Athletica athletes, finishing under the 10 hour mark in an impressive 9 hours 43 minutes and 19 seconds. Despite starting the swim with a painful jellyfish sting, Canada’s Brett McPhedran still finished strong in the 40-45 category.
All athletes showed grit and determination, and never gave up, finishing the race despite the tough race conditions that the island always delivers. We are equally proud of every one of you, and hope you left the big island with great memories and experiences that inspire you to race again.
It was an incredible World Championships event, and arguably maybe the most incredible in recent years … Two Kona newbies took the crowns (Both Chelsea and Gustav having their first appearance on the big island) and lots of records were smashed.
It was incredible to witness the history of triathlon being re-written and to see that (in the words of a great champ) “The human race just got faster” – Eliud Kipchoge