Multiple Kona winners Patrick Lange and Daniela Ryf take the North American titles at Ironman Tulsa.
As Ironman’s North American Championship event, the inaugural Ironman Tulsa courted some of the world’s best pro triathletes to do battle in Oklahoma for a slice of the $150,000 prize purse.
In the men’s race, Daniel Baekkegard’s swift swimming gave him a small lead into T1. After a casual transition, the Dane was soon joined on the bike by Patrick Lange – who’d had a great swim himself – along with Anthony Costes, Jesper Svensson and Florian Angert.
Despite rainy conditions causing Costes to skid out on one corner and have to play catch-up, these five men worked well together throughout the majority of the fast, rolling 180km bike to stay away from the powerful bike runners behind. With Lange obviously keen to keep the pace high, the group reached T2 with an advantage of nearly four minutes.
Much earlier than we’ve seen in his Kona races, Patrick Lange was quickly out in front, his flawless form immediately creating an ever-increasing gap.
Daniel Baekkegard initially struggled on the marathon but rallied to move into second by halfway. Behind Jan Van Berkel set a relentless pace, storming through the field to make the pass with around 15km to go and set the final podium.
Lange crossed the finish line to set an inaugural course record of 7:45:21 with an exceptional 2:36:45 marathon. Van Berkel took second, five minutes back and two ahead of Baekkegard. Meanwhile fourth- place Denis Chevrot set a new all-time Ironman run record in 2:36:02. The ever-consistent Bart Aernouts rounded out the top five.
In the women’s race, Pamela Oliviera was first from the water. A former regular on the World Triathlon circuit, the Brazilian scythed through the back markers in the men’s field to a 1:20 lead.
However, in second place was nine-time world champ Daniela Ryf, who quickly took first on the bike. Oliviera hung tough for a while, but Ryf’s pace was too great and she drifted back through the field to a DNF. Replacing her in the podium-battle positions were Katrina Matthews, Kimberly Morrison and Skye Moench.
Ryf continued to power, giving herself a 15-minute buffer over her chasers by T2. Meanwhile Matthews was handed a five-minute penalty, giving her extra time to make up to Morrison and Moench – who cruised onto the run into clear second place.
Matthews seemed up to the task however – while Moench was taking seconds out of Ryf’s lead, Matthews was wiping away minutes of her deficit. The Brit eventually passed the USA #1 at 27km into the run.
Up ahead, Ryf was starting to struggle, her pace and form faltering as the earlier hard bike effort bit back. Matthews continued to close the gap, but Ryf held on for the win, crossing the line with the tank empty in 8:40:33.
Matthews was just 5:01 back after her 2:49:48 marathon, the fifth fastest of all time. Without her penalty, we might’ve seen Ryf pushed to a real head-to-head battle.
Moench rounded out the podium with her first sub-three marathon while compatriot Heather Jackson took fourth and Spain’s Gurutze Frades fifth.