Kristian Blummenfelt bounces back to win Ironman 70.3 World Championship

The Norwegian was in determined mood to see off USA's Ben Kanute as defending champion Gustav Iden dropped out on the run

ST GEORGE, UTAH - OCTOBER 29: Kristian Blummenfelt of Norway competes in the Men's Pro running leg during the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship on October 29, 2022 in St George, Utah. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

Kristian Blummenfelt bounced back from Hawaii disappointment to claim the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in formidable style.

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The Norwegian broke clear of USA’s Ben Kanute with three miles left of the run in St. George to take the tape in 3:37:12 following a 1:11:39 half-marathon.

It meant that along with the Olympic, World Triathlon and Ironman world titles, the 28-year-old has proved he is a master of all distances and has now completed the full set of triathlon’s major honours.

But there was no happy return to Utah for defending 70.3 champion and newly-crowned Ironman world champion Gustav Iden. Blummenfelt’s training partner looked off-colour from the start and dropped out just under halfway through the run.

Denmark’s Magnus Ditlev held on for third, with Germany’s Mika Noodt and Frederic Funk completing the top five.

“It’s been a great three weeks since Hawaii,” Blummenfelt said. “My goal was to try and put pressure on Magnus and Gustav early on the bike. I was pushing all the way, and I was surprised how strong Ben was on the run.

“I tried to hold back as long as possible before pushing it into another gear. You can’t get revenge for a race in Kona outside of Kona, so it’s still on my mind to go back there to finish the business there.”

Ben Kanute led Kristian Blummenfelt to mile 10 in the Ironman 70.3 World Championship Pic: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images for IRONMAN

What happened in the swim?

Former short course ace and Olympian Aaron Royle led out the 1.2-mile swim in Sand Hollow reservoir as expected.

But despite the course being a simple rectangle, the Australian turned too far around the first buoy and had to stop, remove his goggles and readjust.

It allowed the chasing pack to catch back up, and although Royle and USA’s Marc Dubrick were first into T1, Kanute was 13sec back and then Eric Lagerstrom led a long line of chasers, including Blummenfelt who emerged in 12th.

Iden and Ditlev exited the water together and 45sec behind Royle, and while USA’s Sam Long was 39th and second-last at 2:45 he was still in contention as they started the bike leg.

What happened on the bike?

While others were dressing for the elements, Blummenfelt wasn’t hanging about and sped through transition the fastest and quickly powered his way to the front.

He led for the first 40 miles on the bike all the way to the race’s biggest climb up at Snow Canyon before being passed by the chasing Ditlev – who had forgotten his helmet on leaving T1 and had to run back to fetch it.

Funk and Kanute had stayed in contention throughout and were still there as the front four entered T2 almost together ahead of Denmark’s 2021 fourth-place finisher, Mikki Taagholt.

Behind them, Iden was more than 2mins in arrears in the company of Royle, Oceanside 70.3 winner Jackson Laundry and ninth place Kona finisher Clement Mignon, along with Germany’s Noodt and Danish pair Thor Bendix Madsen and Scott Steenberg.

But the raced turned into a nightmare for Long who received a 5min penalty and slipped out of contention.

What happened on the run?

While Blummenfelt was again fastest through transition, Kanute – who finished second in the 70.3 Worlds in Chattanooga in 2017 – bridged back up to take the lead.

Ditlev was laying chase in third, but it wasn’t to be Iden’s day as the defending champion pulled the plug before midway on the half-marathon.

Blummenfelt tracked Kanute until the 10-mile mark before accelerating away on a steep downhill section to open a few seconds gap, starting his high-fives with the crowd with more than half-a-mile to go before celebrating the win.

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Main pic: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images for IRONMAN