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Kona 2022 – How the Male Race Unfolded

Here are the results of the top finishers and the athletes who had an influence on the outcome of the MPRO race (full results can be found here, there’s also a detailed look at the women’s Pro race):

Rank Name Nation Swim Bike Run Time Diff to exp. Prize Money
1 Gustav Iden NOR 00:48:22 (9) 04:11:05 (6) 02:36:14 (1) 07:40:23 -04:26 US$ 125,000
2 Sam Laidlow FRA 00:48:15 (2) 04:04:35 (1) 02:44:39 (5) 07:42:23 -33:03 US$ 65,000
3 Kristian Blummenfelt NOR 00:48:19 (5) 04:11:15 (8) 02:39:20 (2) 07:43:22 -06:43 US$ 45,000
4 Max Neumann AUS 00:48:24 (12) 04:11:29 (9) 02:40:13 (3) 07:44:43 -20:09 US$ 25,000
5 Joe Skipper GBR 00:52:54 (44) 04:11:10 (7) 02:45:25 (6) 07:54:04 -12:55 US$ 20,000
6 Sebastian Kienle GER 00:52:57 (46) 04:09:10 (4) 02:48:44 (13) 07:55:39 -14:34 US$ 18,000
7 Leon Chevalier FRA 00:52:53 (43) 04:09:04 (3) 02:49:27 (15) 07:55:51 -17:23 US$ 15,000
8 Magnus Elbaek Ditlev DEN 00:49:48 (29) 04:13:37 (11) 02:48:10 (11) 07:56:37 02:12 US$ 13,000
9 Clement Mignon FRA 00:49:49 (30) 04:15:13 (14) 02:45:59 (8) 07:56:57 -06:15 US$ 12,000
10 Patrick Lange GER 00:49:41 (23) 04:21:51 (22) 02:41:58 (4) 07:58:19 00:41 US$ 11,000
11 Cameron Wurf AUS 00:52:50 (42) 04:09:03 (2) 02:54:26 (18) 08:00:50 -15:20 US$ 8,000
12 Florian Angert GER 00:48:14 (1) 04:17:57 (19) 02:50:28 (16) 08:01:52 -01:39 US$ 6,000
13 Timothy O’Donnell USA 00:48:22 (9) 04:13:29 (10) 02:56:02 (19) 08:02:57 -13:51 US$ 5,000

Here’s the Race Development Graph for these athletes (click for a hi-res version):


Here is a quick summery of the race for the podium spots:

  • There was a big group of about 20 athletes at the front of the swim. Florian Angert was first out of the water but fell back on the bike with a penalty.
  • Max Neumann and Sam Laidlow took the lead on the bike, by the turn in Hawi they were joined by Kristian Blummenfelt, Gustav Iden and Magnus Ditlev.
  • Sam built a huge lead of more than six minutes in the second half of the bike, posting a new bike course record.
  • Magnus also fell out of contention when he had to serve a draft penalty shortly before T2. Max was running well, but he wasn’t quite able to hold on to the Norwegians but was able to finish fourth with a new Australian fastest Ironman.
  • Gustav and Kristian ran together for the first 17 miles, closing the gap to Sam to about three minutes. Then Gustav pushed the pace even more, was able to overtake Sam and take the win with new overall and run course records.
  • Sam was able to hold on to second place, while Kristian finished third just one minute behind.

Kona Champion: Gustav Iden

After two 70.3 titles, Gustav also became the Kona 2022 Champion:

M1 Gustav

The day started well for Gustav when he was able to stay in the first swim group – he started the bike with all of the favorites, just a few seconds off the lead. With Max and Sam pushing the pace at the front, he settled into the chase group, and by the turn in Hawi he had worked his way back to the lead group without having to work too hard. When Sam pushed the pace on the return leg to Kona, he continued to ride with Kristian, Magnus and Max – none of whom seemed to be too keen to exert much energy to keep Sam in sight. In T2, he and the rest of the group were more than six minutes behind Sam. He and Kristian dropped Max after 5 miles and went to work to reel in Sam, but the gap was still around three minutes at the turn in the Energy Lab, about 10k from the finish. After climbing back out of Energy Lab, Gustav decided to go all in: He dropped Kristian and the gap to Sam started to shrink quickly. Shortly after mile 22, Gustav was able to take the lead from Sam, and Sam was not able to stay with him. In the end, he won with a margin of two minutes, setting a new Kona course record (improving Jan Frodeno’s 2019 time by almost 11 minutes) and also a new run course record with a 2:36 marathon.

Second Place: Sam Laidlow

After a courageous race which included a new bike CR and a new personal marathon PR, Sam finished second:

M2 Sam

For most of the race, Sam was pushing the pace at the front. After a swim with the lead group, he quickly rode away from the others, bridging up to Max Neumann and then riding about one minute ahead of all the chasers. From that chase group, only three managed to ride up to them in the climb to Hawi, but after the turn Sam upped the pace again and no one was able to ride with him. On the way back to Kona he built a gap of more than six minutes. He also improved Cam Wurf’s 2018 bike course record by almost five minutes. Still, it was expected that the Norwegians would be able to quickly reel him – in St. George it took Kristian about ten miles to close the T2 gap of 4:30 to Sam. Sam ran way faster than his 2:55 marathon pace from St. George, and still had a three minute lead in the Energy Lab. Would we get a new youngest male Kona winner? (Sam was 23 for the Kona 2022 race, the youngest male winner is Scott Tinley who was 25 when he won in February 1982.) It took a big push by Gustav Iden to catch Sam at mile 22, but with his 2:44 marathon he was able to hold on to his second place.

Third Place: Kristian Blummenfelt

After becoming the St. George Champion, Kristian took third place in Kona:

M3 Kristian

For most of the day, Kristian was within seconds of eventual winner Gustav Iden. On the run, he and Gustav were able to shrink the gap to leader Sam Laidlow, but at about mile 20 it became apparent that something special would be needed to catch Sam. Some statements from Gustav after the race seemed to indicate that Kristian wasn’t able to push the pace as much as needed. To put this in the proper perspective, Kristian ran a 2:39:20 marathon, the second fastest ever run split in Kona! Nonetheless, after winning in St. George with a 2:38 it was a disappointment for Kristian to “only” finish in third place.

Fourth Place: Max Neuman

Another big surprise was the fourth place finish by Max:

M4 Max

Max was also part of the big first swim group, but he continued to push an aggressive pace on the bike. After he was joined by Sam Laidlow, they created a gap of about a minute to the chase group that didn’t change much until the climb to Hawi. At the turn, Max was part of the lead group of five athletes. When Sam took off at the front, Max continued to ride with Kristian, Gustav and Magnus and started the run in fourth place. On Ali’i he ran with the two Norwegians but then had to slowly let them go after about five miles. But he was able to build a big gap to anyone behind him, what was initially two minutes in T2 became four minutes at mile 10 (to Leon Chevalier) and more than five minutes at mile 16, the turn in the Energy Lab (to Magnus Ditlev). With a 2:40:13 Max posted the third fastest marathon of the day and finished in fourth place, only 1:21 behind Kristian. His 7:44 was also the new fastest Ironman finish by an Australian athlete.

Fifth Place: Joe Skipper

After a 7th place in 2018 and a 6th in 2019, Joe improved another spot with his fifth place in 2022:

M5 Joe

Joe is the top finisher of anyone who was not able to swim with the first group. He started the bike in 43rd place and settled down in the second chase group, about five minutes behind the front. The gap didn’t change much in the first half, but he slowly improved his position, by the turn in Hawi he had moved to 15th. When Cam Wurf increased the pace in the second group, he fell out of that group and rode the last 30 miles on his own. He lost maybe two minutes to them, also improving his position to 12th. Once on the run, he continued to move forward, he overtook everyone who rode away from him on the bike, finishing in fifth place. He improved his Kona marathon PR by eight minutes, only the Top4 and Patrick Lange (who came from further behind) ran faster than his 2:45 marathon.

Sixth Place: Sebastian Kienle

In his final Kona race, Sebi was this year’s top German male in sixth place:

M6 Sebi

Sebi’s swim was about as expected – he started the bike in position 45, about five minutes behind the big lead group. Right after T1, it was “decision time”: Others such as Cam Wurf or Joe Skipper pushed the pace a bit more than he expected, and he had to go harder than planned to ride his way back up to them. In the climb to Hawi was another tricky moment when they passed a group of athletes falling back from the first chase group and Sebi almost lost other strong riders in the confusion. But he was able to stay with Cam and reached T2 in a promising seventh place. His run pace was also solid, and after a battle with Magnus Ditlev a fifth place finish seemed possible before he was caught by Joe Skipper. A solid 2:48 saw him finish in sixth place as the oldest athlete in the Top 10. His total time of 7:55 was his fastest Kona finish ever – a very respectable endpoint to his Kona racing.

Seventh Place: Leon Chevalier

After his sixth place in St. George, Leon finished seventh in Kona:

M7 Leon

For most of the first two legs, Leon was close to Sebi. He was five minutes behind the leaders in T1, then rode with Cam and Sebi. But he was given a one-minute penalty (he was told it was for dropping a bottle outside of a litter zone) and served his penalty at the same time that Flo and Clement were serving their five minutes. Luckily, he could leave about a minute before them and was able to catch back up to the Wurf/Kienle group within the next 15 miles and even lead them around the turn in Hawi. He put in another effort in the climb back to the Queen K shortly before mile 80, forcing another few athletes such as Joe Skipper to drop from the group. After hitting T2 in seventh place 8:40 behind the leaders, he was the fastest runner of the group on Ali’i Drive, running in fifth and hoping for some of the athletes in front of him to run into problems. But on the rollers on the Queen K out to the Energy Lab, he was the one who started to fall off his pace. At mile 23 he had dropped back to ninth place but then was able to surge again and climb back into seventh place.

Eighth Place: Magnus Ditlev

Even with a frustrating penalty, Magnus finished his first Ironman World Championship in eighth place:

M8 Magnus

As is typical for him, Magnus lost some time in the swim. In Kona, he was 1:58 behind the leaders – almost the same time he was behind Jan Frodeno in Roth (1:50). Once on the bike, he wasted no time to bridge up to the chase group with Kristian and Gustav, and then continued to push the pace to ride up to the leaders Sam and Max. (A lot of athletes not shown in the graph – such as Sam Appleton, Kristian Hoegenhaug, Daniel Baeekegard or Rudy Von Berg –  were not able to hold onto the pace at this point, and once out of the group they were quickly falling back to the second chase group or even further.) Magnus then was the first to reach the leaders, also building a gap of 30 seconds to Gustav and Kristian – which the Norwegians were able to close by the turn in Hawi. On the way back, Magnus was given a five-minute penalty for drafting – which he had to serve shortly before T2. So instead of starting the run “in the mix” with the Norwegians, he was 11th, almost eleven minutes behind Sam and also two minutes behind the second chase group with Sebi, Leon and Cam. He started the run with a good pace, passing all of this second chase group, and shortly after Palani Rd he was in fifth place, running with Sebi. He was able to build a small gap to Sebi – he left the Energy Lab (split at 19 miles) 14 seconds ahead. But then he started to struggle a bit, and after a roller-coaster of passes and re-passes in the final miles he finished in eighth place.

Ninth Place: Clement Mignon

As a Kona rookie Clement finished ninth and was also the third French athlete in the Top10:

M9 Clement

Clement swam with the second bigger group, roughly 30 seconds behind the big lead group. On the bike, he quickly worked his way into the chase group that had formed behind Max and Sam. However, he was given a penalty, and you could see him discuss what may have happened with Flo Angert in the penalty tent at mile 34. After they started rolling again, they stayed together for most of the bike, losing time to the front of the race but solid enough to gain a few spots – from 39th after the penalty to 13th before T2. Clement continued to gain places on the run, at mile 25 he had even worked his way into eighth place. He lost one spot practically in the finish chute, but a Top 10 finish in only his second Ironman is a great start to his long-distance racing.

Tenth Place: Patrick Lange

With Patrick in tenth place there is another athlete who had to mentally re-group after serving a penalty:

M10 Patrick

Patrick ended the swim at the back of the first big group – he was 27 seconds behind Flo Angert, but then lost some more time in T1 – he started the bike with a gap of 1:33 to the leader. That meant he wasn’t quite able to stay with the first bigger group, and he probably wasn’t willing to invest what would be needed to make up roughly a minute to strong riders such as Magnus, Kristian or Gustav. That meant that he and the group he was riding with fell back by mile 40 to the second chase group around Cam Wurf, about 4 minutes behind the leaders. Riding with Cam was a great strategy for Kristian Blummenfelt in St. George, and Patrick still seemed to be in a good position. But then he was also given a drafting penalty that he had to serve after the turn in Hawi and he fell back to 37th, more than ten minutes behind the leaders. He made up a few spots in the second half of the bike but lost some more time to the front – he started the run in 21st place, 18:37 behind the leaders. He also had a penalty in his first Kona in 2017 – there he ran onto the podium with a 2:39 marathon after being 22nd in T2 with a gap of 10:12. This year, he ran a fourth-best marathon of just under 2:42, which allowed him to claim the last Top10 spot.

Eleventh Place: Cameron Wurf

Cam is still among the strongest Ironman athletes on the bike, but he finished in eleventh place:

M11 Cam

For the last years, Cam has been the fastest cyclist at the Ironman World Championships. He set the Kona bike course record in 2018 (4:09:06), and he was even three seconds quicker this year. But the “talk of the town” was Sam Laidlow’s bike split of 4:04:35, and a few more athletes were only a few seconds slower than Cam. That meant Cam was “only” fifth at the start of the run (instead of leading as in 2018), and a podium finish seemed unlikely. Running on Ali’i he quickly lost a few positions, and even if his final marathon time of 2:54 is his new fastest Kona run, he finished just outside of the Top10 in eleventh place.

Twelfth Place: Florian Angert

An early penalty forced Florian to chase from behind, he finished twelfth:

M12 Florian

Flo had a great start to his race day, being first out of the water. He did not go with Max and Sam off the front, but was content to lead the chase group with Gustav and Kristian. When some more aggressive riders moved through the group, he was given a penalty and had to let the group go at the mile 34 penalty tent. He was calm enough (probably just on the outside) to give interviews while waiting, but his frustration about a penalty he didn’t understand came through. After the forced break, he had dropped to 38th place. There were a few athletes around him then, but most had their own set of issues and they lost more time to the torrid pace at the front. But even starting the run 13:40 behind the leader, he had moved into 16th place. He gained a few more spots during his 2:50 marathon, finishing in twelfth place, at least earning a bit of prize money.

Thirteenth Place: Timothy O’Donnell

For a long time, TO was in a great place, but he was not able to repeat his 2019 marathon and finished in thirteenth place:

M13 TO

TO also swam with the first group, then was riding in the chase group until about mile 40. When Magnus and the Norwegians pushed the pace to bridge up to the leaders, he and a few others were no longer able to follow. But he continued to ride at a decent pace, and it took the second chase around Cam Wurf until mile 90 to catch him. He started the run in eighth place and was even able to move up to sixth place in the first few miles. But after the turn on Ali’i, he slowly moved backwards in the field. In the end, his 2:56 marathon meant he finished thirteenth – even so the top US athlete in the men’s Pro field. This was the first time since 2011 that no US athlete was in the Top 10 (and only the third time ever).

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