How Lucy Charles-Barclay and Sebastien Kienle earned IRONMAN podium places
© Graeme Murray/ Red Bull Content Pool
The 2019 IRONMAN World Championship proved to be an incredible year with underdog performances, unforgettable battles and the infamous winds of Hawaii's Kailua-Kona – get the lowdown here.
For the past two years the notorious winds that ravaged the IRONMAN World Championship were dormant; this year, however, the easterlies were back with a vengeance, as was a swell like no other, which forced everyone to battle both nature and each other.
For the majority of the day, Charles-Barclay threatened to take her first IRONMAN World Championship title having been twice runner-up to Daniela Ryf in 2017 and 2018. This year, though, was entirely different. Leaving the water with a very strong lead on the rest of the pack, Charles-Barclay put even more time between herself and the others that saw her head onto the run with an eight-minute lead.
But Anne Haug’s stellar run form saw her chase down that eight-minute lead to then put the pedal to the metal and take the victory alongside her German compatriot Jan Frodeno. In the men’s race, after a frustrating past two years, Frodeno became the first German to win three IRONMAN World Championship titles with a dominant performance.
In the morning's swim, with plenty of swell to fight, Charles-Barclay led with Lauren Brandon, coming out of the water in 49:02 with the rest of the chasing group five minutes behind. Brandon was quickly dropped in transition, leaving Charles-Barclay to complete the whole bike on her own, making her the chased instead of the chaser. Although riding solo for the first half of the ride isn't new to Charles-Barclay, riding the entire 140km is. With the reigning champion suffering from nausea, she was left to ride it out with a giant target on her back.
And that giant target is exactly what Anne ‘pocket rocket’ Haug saw. Although Charles-Barclay headed into the run very confident, her run was not powerful enough to hold off Haug. After starting strong and quickly, Haug managed to hold consistent form and pace to slowly but surely close the gap on Charles-Barclay. She was finally able to make the pass at mile 16 and didn’t look back as she picked up her firstIRONMAN World Championship crown in a time of 8:40:10.
It was the battle for second, though, that will leave everyone talking. As Charles-Barclay went from the hunted to the hunter out by the Energy Lab, it was evident that she was suffering. Australian Sarah Crowley was able to capitalise on this dejection and passed the Brit. But Charles-Barclay wasn’t going to let that be her race. So, with only 1km left, she mustered up everything she had left in the tank and went full throttle. With the finish line in earshot, Charles-Barclay overtook Crowley in the final stages to reclaim second.
Charles-Barclaysaid: “I really had to gut it out at the end. I really wanted to get back to second, so I just had to dig deep. I am so proud, because from 1km into the run my legs were cramping, so I’m just really proud.”
Daniela Ryf, the pre-race favourite seeking an incredible fifth consecutive IRONMAN World Championship crown, struggled throughout the race but refused to quit. Ryf finished 13th, while Camilla Pedersen had to abandon her race during the run.
“Kona never disappoints,” said Ryf. “It was a very tough day for me after feeling flat and nauseous due to a stomach bug, which I caught a few days ago. Giving up was never going to be an option, so I dug deep and gave it everything I had. The pain was real, but the support on the race course was even more real.”
In the men’s race, Jan Frodeno was the dominant force as he set a new course record. He came out of the just water seconds behind Josh Amberger and formed an effective bike group alongside Olympian Alistair Brownlee and IRONMAN veteran Tim O’Donnell. Despite an incredible swim, defending champion Patrick Lange dropped out of the race early on after suffering from a fever.
Throughout the men’s race, we saw a very tight pack and constant shake-up between the lead group, that is until about mile 100, when Frodeno made a decisive break and didn't looked back. For the past two years, Frodeno has endured injury after injury, but this year he was back with a vengeance. Following his breakout at mile 100, Frodeno was able to put a healthy lead between himself and the others.
Once Jan became the hunted, American Tim O’Donnell set off to secure second (as well as an under eight-hour race), while 2014 IRONMAN World Champion Sebastian Kienle battled his way to a superb third place, making up for last year’s disappointment which saw him forced out of the race during the run with an Achilles injury.