Before the IM World Champs in Nice and Kona, fast running was expected. At first glance, this expectation was fulfilled with a 2:32:41 by Patrick Lange and a 2:48:23 by Anne Haug, a new female Kona run course record.
But when digging a bit deeper, it does not seem that the overall run times in the Top 10 did not get much quicker: In the female race in Kona, you could still finish in the Top 10 with a 3:12:56 marathon (Jocelyn McCauley), and the male run times on the flat course in Nice are hard to compare to the Kona marathon. Even with the run in Nice being about three minutes quicker than in Kona, the slowest marathon among the Top 10 finishers in Nice – 2:47:55 by Clement Mignon – wasn’t that much quicker than in Kona 2022. (Leon Chevalier had the slowest run among the 2022 Top 10 with a 2:49:27.) And while it was widely assumed that to win in Nice and Kona you’d have to run one of the fastest marathons, the winners’ run times were quite a bit slower than the course records mentioned above.
The following graph shows the gap between the winner’s run time and the fastest marathon of the day:
We’ve had the biggest combined gap (18 minutes and 20 seconds for the men and women ) ever at the IM World Championships, including the biggest men’s gap (9:05 for Sam Laidlow behind Patrick Lange) since 2004 (Normann Stadler was 11:43 behind Peter Reid) and the biggest women’s gap (9:15 for Lucy Charles-Barclay behind Anne Haug) since 2000 (14:43 for Natascha Badmann behind Lori Bowden).
But does this mean that the run doesn’t matter anymore or that we’ve seen the “return of the uber bikers”? I think that is a bit too much simplified as well:
- Both fastest run times this year broke the existing run course records – it’s fair to say that these were exceptionally good runs
- Both winners also had decent runs – Lucy ran under three hours and had the fourth-best run of the day while Sam ran a sixth-best 2:41
- Both 2023 wins showed that it often takes something unexpected (such as Lucy and Sam posting the fastest bike of the day) to win World Championships
What’s your view of the bike and run performances this year and what will it mean for future World Championship races? Please join the discussion on my Instagram post!