Magnus Ditlev is currently one of the hottest property in Ironman circles. The Danish triathlete is ripping up the history books, especially when it comes to the bike.
But who is this relative newcomer? We take a look at his career so far…
Who is Magnus Ditlev?
Magnus Ditlev is the boy who came from nowhere, the Danish lad who’s taking the long-course world by storm. Still only 24, going long has always been his goal. The tried-and-tested move from Olympic racing and ITU competition in the late afternoon of a career just wasn’t for him.
Instead, he just jumped straight in at the deep end, inspired by watching Ironman Copenhagen as a kid, by the human endeavour and struggle he saw making its way up the Geels Bakke hill north of the city.
By the age of 20, Ditlev was an age-group Ironman 70.3 European champ, with a conversion to the pro ranks swift to follow.
His pro debut, though, was put on hold as he recovered from a serious road accident, but when he belatedly made his bow on the scene, he made something of an impression, with a number of impressive placings in various Challenge and 70.3 races.
His breakthrough event was Ironman 70.3 Gdynia in 2020. He left Poland with a winner’s medal in his luggage, having shocked the experienced field – including past world champions – with his raw speed on the bike.
Standing 6ft 4in in his stockinged feet, Ditlev can simply make a bike go quicker than anyone else in Ironman. That day in Poland, he posted a bike split six minutes quicker than his nearest rival.
That two-wheeled prowess has been the core of his subsequent success, whether that’s triumphs at Challenge Budva, Ironman 70.3 Portugal or, most impressively, Challenge Roth in 2023, where he smashed the bike-course record and the world long-distance record.
He might have been the kid from nowhere, but everyone now knows exactly who Magnus Ditlev is. Catch him if you can.
How old is Magnus Ditlev?
Magnus Ditlev was born on 31 October 1997, making him 25 years of age.
Magnus Ditlev’s career highlights
June 2018: Homeland hurrahs for the young Ditlev
Competing on home turf – and in a portent of what’s to come – the 20-year-old Ditlev wins the 18-24 age group at the Ironman 70.3 European championships in Elsinore. Turning pro is his next step.
September 2019: Ditlev makes his delayed pro debut
After a serious bike crash ahead of Ironman 70.3 Mallorca in May, Ditlev belatedly makes his pro debut at Challenge Davos, coming home in a very credible fourth. This is followed by sixth place at Challenge Daytona in December.
February 2020: No nerves on first 70.3 appearance
The Dane makes his Ironman 70.3 bow as a pro in Dubai. Having entered T2 sharing the joint lead with three others, that the run is Ditlev’s weakest discipline is clear and evident for all to see, taking him out of the podium places.
September 2020: A maiden pro victory in Poland
Ditlev stands atop a pro podium for the first time after his win at Ironman 70.3 Gdynia, thanks to a bike leg that’s more than six minutes quicker than anyone else’s. This cushion allows him to concede time to his rivals on the run without affecting his lead and he breaks the tape comfortably ahead of Britain’s Tom Davis in second.
Third-placed Patrick Lange, a former two-time world champion who finishes 10 minutes back, approaches Ditlev afterwards, a smile playing on the German’s lips. “Who the fuck are you?”
May 2021: Bronze in the desert
Having failed to finish in Florida a fortnight before, Ditlev takes third place at the prestigious Ironman 70.3 St George in Utah. Again, it’s the gains he makes on the bike that land him on the podium.
October 2021: Two wheels good. Very good
In taking first place at Challenge Budva in Montenegro, the same story is played – a bike split that’s more than five minutes speedier than anyone else’s is the Dane’s guarantee of success. Patrick Lange has to settle for second.
October 2021: Another 70.3 gold to add to his collection
A fortnight after Budva, Ditlev adds another victory to his rapidly inflating reputation, taking top spot at Ironman 70.3 Portugal.
Although out of the water in 18th place, almost a minute and a half down on the leader, his ride gets him back in contention and he sees out the win with a run split that’s actually quicker than that of former Olympic champion Jonny Brownlee.
July 2022: Magnificent and dominant Challenge Roth debut
Ditlev records his most prestigious, most conspicuous victory to date, proving his worth beyond half-Ironman distance with a commanding performance at Challenge Roth in front of 250,000 spectators.
He comes home a full nine minutes ahead of the best of the rest, having set a course record on the bike. Again, homeboy Lange has to settle for second. He certainly knows who Ditlev is by now.
August 2022: Impressive Collins Cup debut
Further proof that Ditlev is now dining at the top table of long-distance triathlon comes with an impressive showing at the Collins Cup.
The Dane is the fifth-fastest man in the competition, behind the A-grade talents of Norwegian pair Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden, Canada’s Lionel Sanders and the American Sam Long. Ditlev is here to stay.
September 2022: Shows his class in Dallas
Despite it not being his strongest discipline, it’s on the run where Ditlev makes gains at the PTO US Open. After a strong bike kept him in contention with a tight front group, Ditlev puts in a strong run performance over the 18km course, passing American Long near the finish line to claim second and a hefty $70,000 of prize money.
October 2022: Top-10 Kona debut and third in St George
Clocks an impressive 7:56:38 on debut to finish eighth – and that’s with a 5min penalty on the bike, without which he potentially could’ve placed fourth.
Three weeks later he’s on the podium with bronze at the Ironman 70.3 Worlds in St George, Utah.
November 2022: Wins his first full Ironman in Mexico
In his eighth race of the season and fourth full distance, Magnus climbs to the top step of the podium after a battle with the elements:
“With the humidity and rising temperature it was the most extreme race I’ve ever done. It supposedly felt like 39°C. I was pretty empty from the start, walked every aid station on the marathon, and put as much ice under my suit as I could.”
June 2023: Smashes the world long-distance record in Roth
Last year he was just 9secs shy of Frodeno’s record. This year, he posts a 7:24:40 to obliterate it by 11mins.
September 2023: Bags a podium at the Ironman Worlds
As the Ironman World Championship rolled into Nice and entered unchartered territory, it was anyone’s guess who’d be taking each step of the podium.
Magnus Ditlev in quotes
On watching Ironman Copenhagen as a kid: “The euphoric mood at the top of Geels Hill and the respect around all the participants fascinated me. As soon as I got old enough, I signed up for my first half-Ironman.”
On breaking his arm and collarbone in a collision with a car just before his pro debut in Mallorca in 2019: “The doctors said, ‘There is no way you can be competitive in the future.’ I was in the hospital bed and everything went black. When the doctors left the room, I thought, ‘That is not true!’”
On winning Challenge Roth at the first time of asking in 2022: “If the things I’m saying now don’t make sense, it’s because I’m just out of words.”
On finishing 8th on debut at Kona 2022: “I’m obviously disappointed with the outcome as I came here for more, but this will certainly not be my last attempt for the title here in Kona.”
On smashing the world record in Roth 2023: “First and foremost, I ran for the win. But the fact it turned out to be such a good time makes me all the happier.”
What’s next for Magnus Ditlev?
The long-course world is the great Dane’s oyster. The brutal speed that Ditlev can achieve on his bike has to mark him out as a future world champion – whether at 70.3 or full Ironman. Or, of course, both.
Still only 25, time is very much on his side. We could be witnessing a future Ironman icon in the making.
Top image credit: Octavio Passos/Getty Images for Ironman