Taking full advantage of the near-perfect conditions, Patrick Lange stepped into history with an incredible course record and successful defense of his Ironman World Championship title.
October 14, 2018 | NEWS|
Even if you asked his coach, 2005 Ironman world champion Faris Al-Sultan, winning a second consecutive Ironman World Championship title was not going to be easy for Patrick Lange. It's tough to defend the world title, especially when you're from Germany, where the sport is so revered and a Kona world champion gets lots of media attention.
Add to that the fact that out of all of the potential contenders for the title, Lange was the one who arrived in Kona with the least impressive 2018 race resume.
None of which matters one bit, of course, when it comes to race day on the Big Island. Lange performed to perfection from the gun, never straying from his own race plan, and destroyed his own course record, becoming the first man to go sub-eight hours here in Kona with a 7:52:39 finish.
As expected, Australia's Josh Amberger led the way out of the water, setting a new record (that would be broken a few minutes later by super age grouper Jan Sibbersen, who went 46:30), but had much more company than anticipated as a group that included Denis Chevrot (FRA), Maurice Clavel (GER), Tim O'Donnell (USA), Javier Gomez (ESP), Antony Costes (FRA), Giulio Molinari (ITA), Igor Amorelli (BRA) and Matt Chrabot (USA) were all along for the ride within 20 seconds. Lange was a shade under three minutes down, with Sebastian Kienle having the swim of his life just five seconds behind. The other man everyone was watching, who led the chase pack out of the water on his way to a runner-up finish last year, Lionel Sanders, struggled in the water and was about five minutes behind the lead.
In T2 the day went south for Sebastian Kienle, who's preparation for this year's championship was second to none, thanks to a flat tire. He was forced to grab a new wheel and, while he appeared to be riding himself into contention, would fade out of the picture before the end of the bike.
Instead of seeing Kienle and Sanders power through the field towards the front on the bike, early on in the ride it turned into a showdown between uber-bikers Andrew Starykowicz (USA) and Cameron Wurf (AUS). Joined by Amberger, the three pulled clear of the huge chase pack and powered up to the turnaround in Hawi on record-setting time, enjoying the perfect cool conditions and very little wind. On the way down from Hawi Wurf put the hammer down and pulled clear of Starykowicz and Amberger, flying back into T2 in 4:09:06, breaking his course record from a year ago. While Starykowicz would be second back to the pier, it was the group trailing by almost seven minutes that included, Michael Weiss (AUT), O'Donnell, Braden Currie (NZL), Matt Russell (USA), Bart Aernouts (BEL), Andi Dreitz (GER), Clavel, Amorelli and Gomez that was of much more concern to Wurf.
By 10 miles into the run Lange, who has quickly become the sport's most feared marathon runner, had set his stamp on the race and was in the lead. Behind him Aernouts was having the Kona of his career, running in third but also just seconds behind Wurf, By the time the run hit the energy lab it was becoming clear that unless something crazy happened Lange was on his way to another big win with Aernouts keeping him honest to take second. After that, though, the final spot on the podium was turning into a battle between O'Donnell, Currie and David McNamee, who had managed to run himself into podium contention yet again. For the second year in a row McNamee ran his way to a third-place Kona finish, relegating O'Donnell to fourth while Currie managed to hang on by just four-seconds to finish fifth ahead of Matt Russell.
Just to add to the drama of the day, Lange proposed to his girlfriend on the finish line, making the day a truly momentous occasion.
Ironman World Championship | Men
October 13, 2018 | Kailua-Kona, USA
3.86 km Swim
180 km Bike
42.2 km Run