Who will win the men’s race at the Ironman World Championship?

The big dance returns to the Big Island on 8 October, and with the Norwegians to the fore the men’s race looks to be shaping up as one for the ages. We take a look at the main contenders…

Kristian Blummenfelt of Norway celebrates as he wins the 2021 IRONMAN World Championships on May 07, 2022 in St George, Utah

The best male long-course triathletes in the world will once again line up in Kona on Saturday, 8 October, for the Ironman World Championship – multisport’s answer to going 12 rounds with Tyson Fury.

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With plenty of big-hitters in contention, but sadly no Jan Frodeno nor Alistair Brownlee through injury, the outright favourite is Norway’s reigning champion Kristian Blummenfelt.

We’ve tackled the question of whether anyone can beat Blummenfelt, but as the current Ironman, Olympic and World Triathlon champion and the fastest man ever over the full distance, Blummenfelt will take some stopping.

If there’s one man to topple him, it might be training buddy Gustav Iden. The two have yet to face off at Ironman after Iden was forced to withdraw from St. George through illness, but the 26-year-old has won his only outing to date – a 7:42:56 showing in Florida in November.

The duo know each other inside out. Blummenfelt has had more success in short course, Iden at the middle distance, so a head-to-head tussle on the marathon in Hawaii would be one to relish.

Which male Brits are racing Kona?

David McNamee finishing third at the 2018 Ironman World Championships. (Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images for Ironman)

A stress fracture rules out Brownlee, leaving Joe Skipper and David McNamee flying the Union flag for the Brits. Skipper was sixth last time out in Hawaii and missed St George with Covid, but is even more in the spotlight after his win in Ironman Wales.

The Norfolk triathlete looks in some of his best-ever shape after training at altitude in Font-Romeu.

McNamee flies in very much under the radar and comes into his own when racing on the Big Island. Two third places in 2017 and 2018 represent the best achieved by a British male in Hawaii, and a ninth-place in St George reflects his ability to perform on the biggest stage.

Which former men’s champs are racing Kona?

L-R: Tim O’Donnell (2nd), Jan Frodeno (1st) and Sebastian Kienle (3rd) celebrate after finishing the 2019 Ironman World Champs. (Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images for Ironman)

One of the most appealing aspects of the men’s race is that challengers could come from almost anywhere.

Patrick Lange, who missed St George after a bike crash earlier in 2022, has raced in Hawaii four times and won twice. He holds three of the fastest 10 marathon times on the course and remains a contender if he’s within striking distance leaving T2.

After finishing second in St George to add to his 2017 runner-up spot in Kona, Canada’s Lionel Sanders will hope to go one better. Coached by Iden’s brother, Mikel, few doubt his mental toughness.

The same holds for New Zealand’s Braden Currie. The Kiwi led for much of the marathon in Utah before finishing third, but can also fall back on a seventh and fifth place in Hawaii, so knows how to race on the Big Island.

The two Danes, Daniel Baekkegard (PTO No 6) and Magnus Ditlev, (PTO No 3) merit mention.

Baekkegard finished seventh in St George, but still has something to prove over the full distance. Ditlev’s time of 7:35:48 in Challenge Roth in July was seconds short of Frodeno’s course record. He’ll be making his Hawaii debut in only his third long-distance race.

Don’t rule out the veterans either. USA’s Ben Hoffman excels over 140.6 miles and has invaluable Kona experience. Hoffman has a runner-up spot and two fourths in Hawaii, including in 2019.

A similar threat might be posed by 2019 runner-up Tim O’Donnell, who is back for the 10th time with only compatriot Hoffman of the qualifiers having more finishes.

Likewise, Sebastian Kienle, the 2014 champion. Third in 2019, it will be the German’s last Ironman World Championship and although injuries have blighted the latter part of his career, he’s still a force on his day.

More USA interest comes with the weekend’s PTO US Open winner Collin Chartier, Chris Leiferman and Rudy von Berg, although the popular Sam Long has opted out.

Australian Cameron Wurf may have spent most of the past two years pro cycling, but the INEOS Grenadiers rider holds the bike course record and was fifth in 2019.

Also keep an eye on Kona debutants, France’s Sam Laidlow (PTO No 18, eighth in St George) and Leon Chevalier (PTO No 10, sixth in St George), Germany’s Florian Angert (PTO No 7, fifth in St George) and New Zealand’s Kyle Smith (PTO No 25, 11th in St George).

With quality wherever you look, it’s shaping up to be an epic showdown.

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Top image credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for Ironman