He might not yet have hit the World Triathlon Championship Series (WTCS) heights of his contemporary and compatriot Kristian Blummenfelt, but Gustav Iden isn’t playing in the shadows.
He’s felt his fair share of the white light of adulation. That’s the by-product of twice winning the Ironman 70.3 world title and the 2022 Ironman world title…
Who is Gustav Iden?
Norway waits an age for a world-class triathlete and three come along at once. And were he not of the same generation as Blummenfelt and Casper Stornes, Gustav Iden would be the sole beneficiary of a country’s adoration. As it is, the love has to be shared three ways.
Like Blummenfelt, Iden is a son of the city of Bergen who held the national title as a junior. He can’t remotely match the record of his compatriot when it comes to WTCS success, but he’s three years younger, so there’s time in reserve to match his (slight) elder.
Indeed, Iden is yet to win a WTCS race, but has made the podium on two occasions, both in the agreeable temperatures of Bermuda.
But it’s in 70.3 and Ironman racing where his greatest mark has been made; he’s the current – and two-time – 70.3 world champion, having gone longer at a younger age than most.
But then on 8 October 2022, he hit the biggest league of all – by winning the Ironman world title on debut in what was only his second-ever full-Ironman race. For good measure, he also smashed the course record by a cool 11mins.
Not that he’ll be jettisoning WTCS racing; 2023 sees him – and Blummenfelt – return to the world of short course in a bid to retain the Olympic title in Norway.
How old is Gustav Iden?
Gustav Iden was born on 1 May 1996, making him 26 years old.
Gustav Iden’s career highlights
September 2017: A maiden victory in the elite ranks
After being a national junior champion at both duathlon and triathlon, Iden secures his first elite victory at the ITU World Cup race in Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic. After an average swim, a strong bike and dominant run combine to take the win.
March 2018: First top 10 WTS finish
Iden’s upward trajectory continues as he takes his place in the top 10 of WTS Abu Dhabi, finishing ninth, just ahead of the experienced South African Richard Murray.
April 2018: A 1-2-3 for Norway in Bermuda
Just a month after his Abu Dhabi top 10, Iden tastes the WTS limelight with third place in Bermuda, behind his two compatriots Stornes and Blummenfelt. With Javier Gómez and Mario Mola heading into the closing years of their careers, it feels as though Spain’s dominance of men’s triathlon is being passed over to Norway.
April 2019: A case of history repeating in Bermuda
Iden repeats his third place of 12 months earlier, although this time he’s the highest-placed Norwegian, with Bergen buddy Blummenfelt only managing fifth place. Iden’s growing consistency is clear this season as he also registers fourth-placed finishes in both Tokyo and Lausanne.
September 2019: Middle-distance world glory is achieved
As much as Iden is beginning to punch through on the WTS scene, it’s at 2019’s Ironman 70.3 World Championship that he makes his greatest impact when he comfortably holds off the challenge of Alistair Brownlee on the Nice waterfront to grab a nearby Norwegian flag and claim the world crown for his own.
September 2021: The world title defence is delayed but ultimately successful
To prove that 2019 wasn’t a flash in the pan, Iden retains his world 70.3 title two years later after no event was held in 2020. In somewhat more challenging conditions in St George, Utah, including hailstorms and heavy rain, Iden holds off a strong field.
His job is made easier when arguably his closest rival, Blummenfelt, needs a wheel change and loses touch with the ever-depleting lead group.
November 2021: A highly impressive full-distance Ironman debut
Iden travels to Ironman Florida as an unknown prospect, but he certainly makes his presence and potential felt. Matching Canada’s Lionel Sanders stride for stride in the first 16 miles of the run, Iden then breaks away to take the win, in the process registering a tremendous 2:34:51 for the marathon.
July 2022: A Norweigan show-down
Iden takes part in the inaugural 2022 PTO Canadian Open for a stake in the $100k prize pot. After many race favourites suffer from niggles out on the course, Iden shows his world-class prowess by running all competitors down to victory, including teammate and compatriot Blummenfelt.
August 2022: King of the 100k
Makes light work of Match 11 in the Collins Cup against the USA’s Matt Hanson and Team Internationals’ Jackson Laundry to claim victory. He also clocks the second fastest time of the day, just behind Blummenfelt, to help Team Europe retain their title.
October 2022: Wins the 2022 Ironman world title
Despite his compatriot Blummenfelt being the main favourite, Iden delivers a breathtaking performance to take the title in a course record time of 7:40:24, taking a whopping 11mins off Jan Frodeno‘s 2019 time. He also smashes the run record by 3:30mins (set by Patrick Lange in 2016) with a 2:36:15.
Three weeks later at the 70.3 Worlds, he can only watch as Blummenfelt takes away his title, Iden having dropped out before halfway on the run.
Gustav Iden quotes
On the difference between Ironman 70.3 and Olympic-distance racing: “70.3 is a game of patience and numbers … In ITU, everything depends on staying with the pack. It’s a game of cat and mouse.”
On his first 70.3 world championship: “I was joking on Instagram that I was just going to go out and go do it, but to be here as a world champion… It’s unbelievable and it’s amazing.”
On the perception of triathlon in Norway: “It is gradually becoming a sport of the people. It’s slowly getting traction on TV and the local newspaper in my hometown often writes about it. But football is still very big, which does not make sense, because we are really bad. Like really, really bad.”
On winning the 2022 Ironman world title: “Kristian is the Olympic champion and reigning ITU [World Triathlon] world champion, set the fastest ever time, and the two of us have every title now except the ITU long distance.
“We also have the PTO No 1 position, the Challenge Championship and Collins Cup wins. We have everything and to be part of this group is extremely special. I’m proud of how we’re working.”
What’s next for Gustav Iden?
Continued world domination.
Top image credit: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images for Ironman