(Kona, HI)–We joked about it ahead of time. Imagine going 1-2 in Kona–wouldn’t that be something?
Yeah, right. 1-2. Sure.
It was a race for the ages and it came right down to the finish. Both Mirinda “Rinny” Carfrae (AUS) and Daniela Ryf (SUI) put together career performances, each different from the other, both different from the rest. And…they went 1-2. It was unreal.
The week started differently for each: Rinny on the island well in advance as is her customary build-up to Kona Ironman’s race day. Fit, healthy and in a good mental mindset. Her custom-painted IA got its full pre-race workover in our tech tent right behind Daylight Mind Coffee Co. mid-week. All systems go.
By design, Daniela, flying in Cozumel, MEX, arrived on the island late, not landing until Tuesday night. She was coming off a hot streak which included wins at the 5150 and 70.3 European Championships in August, followed by the 70.3 World Championships just five weeks ago. Daniela had become the race’s x-factor. A little drama helped fuel the back story as her bike did not arrive with her. We had an identical back-up ready, but no athlete wants to change bikes right before a race, much less the World Championships. When her bike did finally arrive it was in need of a fair amount of much-needed attention which turned into a midnight condo exercise. All good.
Leading up to race day all eyes turned to the weather–high seas and high winds can play a huge role–and the race got both.
Nobody wins a triathlon in the swim, but it can definitely be lost. Under a rising swell, both Rinny and Daniela exited the water cleanly, with Daniela just about 2-1/2min down on top swimmers Jodie Swallow, Mary Beth Ellis and a several others. Rinny got out about 3min behind Daniela. Each then put their Felt IA’s to work and before long Daniela, a particularly strong cyclist, took the lead. For her it was time to exploit the bike leg and for Rinny, it was time to use the bike to it’s fullest advantage in preparation for the run. For the next almost 5hrs each sliced through the Queen K’s high winds in the out-and-back course. Daniela clocked a fastest bike time of 4:54:33 for the 112mi leg and headed into the run with a 14-1/2 minute lead over Rinny. We knew Rinny could run, but a gap of this size seemed lofty.
Time splits on the run got scattered and depending on who you asked or followed online, there was a lot of conflicting information. What we know to be true is, we put a clock on them both at the (aprox) 2mi and 8mi marks, and the gap from Daniela to Rinny went from 14 minutes to 11 during that period. Rinny chipped away and Daniela raced from the front–the rest was a big unknown. Late in the marathon distance run and out of nowhere, Rinny moved into third and seemingly right after that, 2nd. Now we were nervous. Could these two hang on? And, in what order? In the end, Rinny’s running and her ability to manage the entire race took over and with a new course run record of 2:50:26 she won her second consecutive and third overall Kona Ironman in a time of 9:00:55. Rising star Daniela took 2nd just 2min behind–a monster result by an athlete with a huge future. A better race could not have been scripted. Other Felt pro finishers include Kelly Williamson (USA) who took 19th in the women’s field, and Tim Reed (AUS) who clocked in at 21st in the men’s race.
For our little company it was a storybook ending. For the IA, it further validated it as the world’s fastest tri bike and now holder of three (!) World Championships earned over the last 365 days. Simply amazing.
In closing, we thank all 129 Felt owners who earned start spots and competed in this year’s Kona Ironman World Championships, and special shout to the folks at Daylight Mind Coffee Company for hosting us throughout race week–it was an experience we’ll not soon forget.