Daniela Ryf wins her third successive Ironman World Championship Title. Photo: Ironman Media
I have been asked about my silence after Kona, and that I must be excited at the outcome? Questions such as:
Surely I must have enjoyed the race?
Were you worried to see Daniela so far back?
What did you think of Lionel Sanders race?
These were the recurring themes of the enquirers. So let me respond to each one, in that order.
Am I excited?
I was extremely pleased that Daniela was able to perform 100% to her potential on the day.
The theme for this year was ‘fight’. However to me the only fight that excited me last weekend was the absolute courageous return to racing of Matty Trautman. Only 8 months ago he has in a horrific collision with a car, breaking his back, and had two titanium rods inserted. Two Doctors prognosis were that he would be lucky to be able to run more than a shuffle. The best prognosis he may be able to run at 65 to 75% within 2 years.
To see Matty win his test race, a sprint event in South Africa, then to back it up with a win in the Olympic distance race, to me personally overshadowed anything I saw about ‘fight’ in Kona. This was the ultimate fight and after such trauma both mentality and physically that made me very excited.
Did I enjoy the race?
No, from a female race point view. I enjoyed Chattanooga so much more. It was a ‘real’ World Championship, as the female athletes had their own race. Apart from bloody mindedness of the ‘stake holders’ this can also be done in Kona. Seeing so many motorbikes so close to the athletes is just totally not needed.
Watching the men strung out in one big slip stream also seems ridiculous, as are the rules of passing. Why? Because the course deems it necessary.
Then watching the massive packs of age groupers lining up at the penalty tents, for being not cheats, but victims of the conflict of profit verses a real World Championship for those guys. To see them to be wrongly accused of drafting because of limitations of a course to handle 2500 athletes is sad. So no I didn’t enjoy the race, as it could easily be so much more.
Was I worried?
No I was not worried to see the bird that far back. We go into races with game plans. Usually not one but three. One of Danni’s great talents is her ability to follow instructions while under extreme pressure. To be honest I have not trained an athlete better at this.
Being an ex-international swim coach I know the swim career of Lucy Charles. While most people in Triathlon don’t understand how much talent one must have to swim her times, the engine it needs, the discipline and ability to sacrifice is not lost on me. This is indeed a great athlete, and Danni was advised she most likely won’t be in front till late in the bike ride. Lucy’s bike ride was such that if Danni tried to shut down that gap earlier, it could have cost her the race. Danni’s plan was always to go after the last 40km on the bike, and go she did!
It was a master class in strategy from her, under pressure to execute her plan. She then controlled the run at all times, but that is where we agree to disagree. Danni won by 8 minutes with the brakes on. That is no ‘fight’.
Lionel Sanders race?
He did not win, so I don’t get why I am asked about this. Why the hype in the sport? Over what?
He gives 100%.
He trains hard.
He shows courage.
I’m sorry, but these to me are just attributes of any athlete who wishes to be the best that they can be. I’m sure Lionel would be the first to agree with me. These attributes are expected as normal at Trisutto, not something special.
To the winner – I was cheering every metre from the Energy Lab for Lionel. Why, when he is not my athlete? A Kona without teeth tends to throw up these wet runners that can handle some heat. Sanders ride from 6 minutes back was enormous. Then when there, he continued to compete from minute one till the last minute. He gave 100%. Sometimes the scoreboard doesn’t’ show the biggest success.
So there are the questions answered.
We had a super performance from James Cunnama, and his season has made me very proud to help him rekindle his best performance.
We had Reinaldo Colucci, Corinne Abraham and Celine Schaerer also competing. All took home lessons a world championship can give. Reinaldo needs to re-group and find a clear path to do the work necessary to be on the podium. Corinne just small refinements in all three to make the top 10, of which I think she can. Lastly Celine did a great job to qualify. That was her championship. Now she knows what is required when the very best are all in one place.
That’s the way Kona was seen through my eyes.