Kona 2014: women's race report
Australia's Mirinda Carfrae defends her crown in spectacular style, breaking the run course record along the way, with Daniela Ryf and Rachel Joyce sharing the podium
Mirinda Carfrae made up an astonishing 14 minutes on the run to spectacularly defend her Ironman world title in 9hrs 56secs.
The Australian became the queen of Kona for a third time, running down Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf and Great Britain’s Rachel Joyce with less than five miles remaining to cap another remarkable performance that mirrored her success last year.
After taking the lead on the bike, debutant Ryf, just 27, put in a gutsy front-running display and it looked as if the World and European 70.3 champion, and winner of Ironmans in Zurich and Copenhagen – all in the last four months – would keep her stunning run of success rolling.
The leading three were separated at the finish by less than three minutes as Carfrae swam 60:14, biked 5:05:48 and ran a new run course record of 2:50:26 to become the fourth women to win at least three titles after Paula Newby-Fraser, Natascha Badmann and Chrissie Wellington.
“Honestly, I have no idea how I got that done,” said Carfrae. “I started the run and thought top five would be good, then top three would be great, then first place was in sight.”
“I knew it would be a battle to the finish line and I was absolutely shocked that I could get it done. Defending is harder than anything. Placing second or third and you are hungry all year, but when you’re first you think you’re king of the world for a bit with a lot of solid girls hunting you down all year.”
Jodie Swallow held strong on the run to finish fourth, with Caroline Steffen rounding out a high calibre top five.
“The bike is one of my strengths, and I much prefer to see people having to work on their own,” said Joyce, sporting a black eye afterwards. “The swim was rough, I got dunked and I got a foot in my face. I felt dodgy for the first 10 miles of the run, too. Daniela was gapping me more and I knew Rinny was chasing hard. I had to be proud of my race and I left it all out there, but Rinny is a class act.”
Amanda Stevens (54:25), Swallow and Meredith Kessler led out the swim, but it was soon Stevens dropping back and American Mary Beth Ellis taking her place in the top three. Swallow lost time through picking up a penalty for an unclear offence, and as the race developed it was Switzerland’s Ryf who pushed to the front.
Joyce was in hot pursuit – a place she’d remain all day - and while the gap concertinaed it was down to two minutes by the start of the run. Not that the rest were out of contention. Mary Beth Ellis, Swallow and Steffen, who had been making quiet progress, were all still in with a chance, but ominously just over 14 minutes back loomed defending champion Mirinda Carfrae.
(Main image: Paul Phillips)