Blummenfelt: My money’s on the new generation

Ahead of the biggest race of his career to date, Kristian Blummenfelt talks to 220 about his main challengers for the 2022 Kona crown and why the course suits him better than St George

Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden at the PTO Canadian Open at Hawrelak Park, Edmonton

Ironman, Olympic and World Triathlon champion Kristian Blummenfelt couldn’t be drawn over whether he will beat fellow Norwegian Gustav Iden on Saturday, but confidently predicts the duo will fill the top two podium spots.

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Blummenfelt on… Gustav Iden

“Both of our dreams are not just to win, but to finish first and second. It’s about the team feeling,” he explained to 220 at the start of race week in Hawaii.

“People tend to think he’s the best at middle distance and I’m the best at long and short distance, but I think it’s more down to who has the better day.

“Yesterday [Sunday] we ran 40km at race pace. He was quite strong and with 5mins to go we said: ‘Should we sprint now?’ and he was like: ‘No, let’s wait until next weekend.’”

Blummenfelt on… Magnus Ditlev

The 28-year-old points to 6ft 5in Dane and Challenge Roth winner Magnus Ditlev as being the biggest threat to their chances of a Norwegian one-two, which would be a repeat of the PTO Canadian Open from Edmonton in July.

“Magnus’s weapon is the bike and he’s still improving his run,” Blummenfelt said. “Every time he gets stronger and stronger in the marathon. If he’s getting away [on the bike] that could be dangerous, but we will try and keep him under control.”

I’m not getting out of the water with him. If he’s with me, I’ve either done something wrong or he has been putting on fins!

Blummenfelt on… Patrick Lange

As for the rest of the field, he believes even two-time winner Patrick Lange, who holds the run-course record and posted three of the fastest 10 marathons ever, is unlikely to have the footspeed to contend. 

“I’d rather put my money on the new generation. I expect the fastest run split to lower the course record and I think Gustav can do more damage on the run than Patrick. But then Patrick tends to rise when he comes to the island, so who knows.”

Blummenfelt on… Joe Skipper 

After their clash in the Phoenix Sub7Sub8 Project in June, Blummenfelt is also still happy to throw the occasional jibe the way of British hope Joe Skipper.

“I’m not getting out of the water with him. If he’s with me, I’ve either done something wrong or he has been putting on fins!

“I think he’ll have to do some work to catch me on the bike and even if he does, we have stronger run legs.”

Blummenfelt on… winning Kona on debut

I look on the guys who haven’t been on the island as the biggest favourites

Blummenfelt isn’t fazed by the theory that Hawaii is almost impossible to win on your first attempt, with the last man to do it being Luc van Lierde in 1996.

“That’s what they said about St George, too. Because of the pandemic and cancelled races there are a lot of guys who’ll come here with fresh motivation and a new view on the course, and that can really mix things up. I look on the guys who haven’t been on the island as the biggest favourites.”

Having ridden the bike course in his preparation, he understands race-day will be a waiting game. 

“I’m aware that the race isn’t won on the way out to Hawi, and it can be lost on the way back to transition on the Queen K. But it will probably be won on the second-half of the run.”

The bad news for his rivals is that he believes the course suits him even more than in St George where he stopped the clock at 7:49:16. Jan Frodeno’s time of 7:51:13 in 2019 being the best in Hawaii.

“Even though it’s simple, it’s a rolling and challenging course,” Blummenfelt added. “Just looking at this course profile versus St George, I think this one suits me better. But it’s about putting it together on race day so there’s still a big job to do.”

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Top image credit: James Mitchell/PTO