Daniela Ryf delivered the biggest margin of victory since all-conquering Chrissie Wellington in 2009 to claim her first Ironman World Championship title in Hawaii in 8:57:57.
The Swiss triathlete dominated as she has done throughout an unbeaten season to beat Britain’s Rachel Joyce by 13:02mins with Australia’s Liz Blatchford rounding out the podium.
“I think almost everything went perfectly,” Ryf, who like men’s winner Jan Frodeno had also taken the Ironman 70.3 World title in August, said. “In the last 2km I had a flat tyre but could just roll in, so I had some mechanical luck today, too. I have to thank my coach Brett Sutton. Two years ago no one knew me and now he has made me a double- world champion.”
Ryf’s position as outstanding favourite was only strengthened when three-time winner and defending champion Mirinda Carfrae pulled out with a bad back before halfway on the bike leg. Even then Carfrae, who had been the victim of two collisions with cars in the build-up – the last one sending her over the bonnet – was already 15mins behind and the gap looked unbridgeable.
The only time Ryf did not lead was in the water. Britain’s Jodie Swallow was the pacesetter from the cannon in the 3.8km swim, and led solo into transition with the chase group a minute behind. Once on to the bike, the gap quickly vanished as Ryf made her intentions clear and blasted to the front.
Joyce was one of the first of the main contenders to lose touch and by halfway had slipped to 7mins back with Leanda Cave. Fellow Britons, Susie Cheetham and Lucy Gossage were a further 7mins adrift although Gossage was riding solidly.
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Whether the news on Carfrae filtered through or not barely mattered as Ryf needed little fillip. Swallow was doing her best to stay in touch but the elastic began to stretch and the 3min gap at 90 miles had swelled to 7min 25sec by the time bikes were discarded, with Mary Beth Ellis, Camilla Pedersen and Michelle Vesterby next into T2 ahead of the resurgent Joyce.
While nothing can be taken for granted in the lava fields, Ryf’s ascendency never looked threatened and once Swallow started walking at the 10mile mark and later pulled the plug, it was going to take an epic meltdown to alter the result.
Joyce’s measured performance was enough for a second runner-up spot in three years, with Blatchford clear in third ahead of Vesterby. Am impressive breakthrough debut by Cheetham culminated with a 3:06:55 marathon for sixth with Gossage running into the top 10 to make it a payday and bury memories of a disappointing first professional outing in Kona year.