2019 Ironman World Championship in Kona Hawaii
2019 Ironman World Championship with Big Island Guide
The 2019 Ironman World Championship is Hawaii’s 41st time hosting the event. Held annually in Kailua-Kona since 1981, the Ironman World Championship is considered the ultimate physical, mental, and emotional test of strength, resilience, and endurance in the world. The world’s best triathletes gather in Kona Hawaii each October to compete in this challenging and strenuous athletic competition.
Qualification for the Ironman World Championship requires placement in other Ironman competitions or Ironman 70.3 races, of which there are more than 49 such events worldwide. With athletes ranging in age from 18-85, nearly 2,500 competitors from more than 80 countries competed on October 12, 2019 and Big Island Guide was there.
2019 Ironman World Championship Overview
Looking to Beat 2018’s Record Setting Performances
The 2019 competitors will have to work very hard to compete with 2018’s, record breaking performances. The pro competitors always show up in Kona with ambitious goals. In 2018 they claimed 5 new course records. Patrick Lange claimed the overall course record, with a time of 7:52:39, marking the first sub-8-hour finish in Kailua-Kona. Daniela Ryf set a new women’s course record of 8:26:16 and a new record for the women’s bike portion of the race with a split of 4:26:07. Lucy Charles claimed the women’s course record for the swim with a split of 48:13. Cameron Wurf set a new men’s course bike record with a split of 4:09:06.
If you missed the 2018 Ironman World Championship read our recap here.
The 2019 Athlete Line Up
The 2019 lineup did not disappoint and shaped up to be an impressive field, full of strong contenders. In the women’s division, Daniela Ryf (SUI), Lucy Charles (GBR), Kaisa Sali (FIN), Sarah Crowley (AUS), Anne Haug (GER), Sarah True (USA), Mirinda Carfrae (AUS), and Heather Jackson (USA) were the names on everyone’s lips leading up to race day. Ryf and Charles set themselves apart during 2018’s race with their record breaking swim and bike splits.
Everyone expected to see strong performances in the men’s division from Patrick Lange (GER), Jan Frodeno (GER), Sebastian Kienle (GER), Patrik Nilsson (SWE), Bart Aernouts (BEL), Tim O’Donnell (USA), Braden Currie (NZL), David McNamee (GBR), and Cameron Wurf (AUS). Patrick Lange and Cameron Wurf grabbed course records in 2018, and Jan Frodeno was back on the course after an injury sidelined him in 2018, so it was sure to be a competitive race.
2019 Ironman World Championship Race Recap
The race started as many expected with Lucy Charles-Barclay and Lauren Brandon leading the women’s swim and Josh Amberger and Jan Frodeno getting out in front of the men’s group. What wasn’t expected was that there was a good size pack that stayed close on the leader’s heels, in spite of the choppy course conditions. As athletes streamed out of the water, the field quickly became crowded with over 45 athletes all within a narrow 5 minute gap, all starting the bike portion of the race.
The men’s bike race was close throughout with several large chase groups forming up behind the leaders. Maurice Clavel, Josh Amberger, Tim O’Donnell, Jan Frodeno and Alistair Brownlee were at the front of the bike portion in the turn, with O’Donnell, Frodeno and Brownlee quickly pulling ahead on the return stretch back to Kawaihae. Ultimately Frodeno, O’Donell, Wurf and Kienle would finish the men’s bike section first.
Lucy Charles-Barclay dominated the women’s bike race with nearly a dozen women forming up two chase groups who could never quite catch up. Strong winds made the bike portion of the race difficult for the athletes as Kona once again lived up to its reputation as one of the toughest courses. Lucy Charles-Barclay, Sarah Crowley, Anne Haug, Imogen Simmonds and Carrie Lester finished the bike turn first with Lucy, Anne, Sarah, and Daniela Bleymehl pulling ahead in the return trip to make their run transitions ahead of the pack.
Jan Frodeno had a two minute lead heading into the run and steadily increased it with a run time that was more than seven minutes faster than the second and third place finishers. Tim O’Donnell and Sebastian Kienle were in close competition throughout the run and had run splits that were just 13 seconds apart. Jan Frodeno took 1st place and set a new course record with his impressive 7:51:13 finish. Tim O’Donnell also pulled off a sub eight hour race to finish second and Sebastian Kienle took third.
The women’s run portion of the race was very exciting, with many strong runners closing gaps from the swim and bike portions. Lucy Charles-Barclay started the run with a sizable lead, but would it be enough to stay out ahead of the strongest runners? The hard fought miles finally took their toll on Lucy about half way through the run, near the NELHA energy lab. Anne Haug passed Lucy and soon after, Sarah Crowley also pulled ahead. Anne Haug took the first place victory in the pro women’s division with a time of 8:40:10. Lucy wasn’t quite ready to give up her second place spot though, and rallied near the end of the race to pass Sarah Crowley and ultimately take second, with Sarah grabbing the third place podium spot.
Not everyone had a good day at the 2019 Ironman World Championship and there were notable disappointments for several of the favorites. Patrick Lange, the 2018 champion and David McNamee, 3rd place finisher in 2018 both suffered from illness on race day and pulled out of the race in the bike portion. Daniela Ryf the 2018 women’s champion struggled with stomach problems throughout the race and finished 13th with a 9:14:26. Sarah True had a flat tire near the beginning of bike section and did not finish the race. With the intense training and preparation these athletes all endure leading up to an Ironman race, we applaud them for all their efforts and hope they have a better race next time.
The 2019 Ironman World Championship Results
2019 Ironman World Championship – Men’s Top 10
1. Jan Frodeno of Germany 7:51:13 – New Course Record! Swim 0:47:31, Bike 4:16:03, Run 2:42:43
2. Tim O’Donnell of USA 7:59:40 – Swim 0:47:38, Bike 4:18:12, Run 2:49:44
3. Sebastian Kienle of Germany 8:02:04 – Swim 0:52:17, Bike 4:15:06, Run 2:49:57
4. Ben Hoffman of USA 8:02:52
5. Cameron Wurf of Australia 8:06:41
6. Joe Skipper of UK 8:07:46
7. Braden Currie of Australia 8:08:48
8. Philipp Koutny of Switzerland 8:10:29
9. Bart Aernouts of Belgium 8:12:27
10. Chris Leiferman of USA 8:13:37
2019 Ironman World Championship – Women’s Top 10
1. Anne Haug of Germany 8:40:10 – Swim 0:54:09, Bike 4:50:18, Run 2:51:07
2. Lucy Charles-Barclay of UK 8:46:44 – Swim 0:49:02, Bike 4:47:21, Run 3:06:00
3. Sarah Crowley of Australia 8:48:13 – Swim 0:54:05, Bike 4:50:13, Run 2:59:20
4. Laura Philipp of Germany 8:51:42
5. Heather Jackson of USA 8:54:44
6. Kaisa Sali of Finland 8:55:33
7. Corinne Abraham of UK 8:58:38
8. Carrie Lester of Australia 8:58:40
9. Daniela Bleymehl of Germany 9:08:30
10. Linsey Corbin of USA 9:09:06
Watching the 2019 Ironman World Championship
Watching these dedicated athletes train around the Big Island in the weeks prior to The Ironman Race is always inspirational and brings to light the immense amount of work that goes into performing at the top of the sport. Their incredible displays of form and strength on race day will awe you and the tremendously competitive field will keep you guessing until the last step who will rise to victory.
The 2019 Ironman Course in Kailua-Kona Hawaii
Held each year in Kailua-Kona on Hawaii’s Big Island, the race includes a 2.4-mile ocean swim in Kailua Bay, 112-mile bicycle race along the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway, and finishes up back in Kailua-Kona after a 26.2-mile run. This incredible endurance test is one of the most impressive and exciting triathlon races to watch. It’s inspiring to see lifelong dreams come true and cheer on the amazing athletes who dare to challenge this brutal Ironman course.
For an understanding of how the race flows and how long each section takes, we can look at the men’s pro winner and his timing. Jan Frodeno swam a 47:31, biked a 4:16:03, and ran a 2:42:43 for an incredible 7:51:13 finish time. Be aware that many road closures block direct paths into and out of Kona as well as all around the downtown area so getting around can take extra time. Click Here to See Previous Ironman Road Closure Information.
If you are here in Kona during the 2019 Ironman World Championship, then you will need to be up early to catch the start of the swim. The event kicks off in Kailua Bay, with the pro men’s division starting first at 6:25 am and the pro women’s starting at 6:30. Then, in a change from previous years, the age group starts will roll out in waves every 5 minutes from 6:55 am – 7:30 am. The pro men will finish swimming in around 47-55 minutes and proceed to the bike race.
Parking is nuts and the best spots fill up fast on race day, so heading down as early as possible is always advised. People start staking out spots as early as 4:30 am. There are several parks in downtown Kona as well as the sea wall lining Ali’i Drive that overlook the starting point for the swim in Kailua Bay. You can line up anywhere along here for a view of the swim portion of the race.
The bike race immediately follows the swim and competitors leave directly from the Kailua Pier transition area, heading up Palani Road, looping around to Makala Blvd and the Kuakini Hwy then racing along the closed Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway to Hawi on the northern tip of Hawaii and back. If you want to head up to the turnaround point you would want to take the upper Mamalahoa HWY 190 to Waimea, then take the 250 cut across that takes you over Kohala mountain into Hawi.
If you’re not heading north, the best place to see the biking event is either from Palani Rd when they are leaving the pier area, along the Kuakinin HWY or along the Queen K as they head out of Kona. The pro men generally start to complete the bike portion of the race in around 4 hours 15 minutes and land back at the transition point around 11:30 am.
The run starts from the Kailua Pier transition point and heads up Palani Rd, turning south on the Kuakini Hwy until Hualālai Rd, then continues onto Ali’i Dr for a turn around retracing it’s path back to the Queen K Hwy for the long stretch up to the airport. It’s pretty easy to catch a glimpse of your favorite racers along the run portion on Ali’i, and then you can grab a nice lunch by the water while they head north. The racers will turn around at NELHA and then make for the home stretch back along the Queen K Hwy and the hard earned finish line on Ali’i Drive.
The men’s pro leaders will take about 2 hours 40 minutes on the run and will start to approach the finish around 2:15 pm. The finish to the 2019 Ironman World Championship will be an incredible event, packed with onlookers and if you want to get a glimpse of the winners, it’s best to show up early to stake out a spot.
Ironman Finish Line Map
Ironman Raceday Coverage
If you aren’t lucky enough to be in Kona for the event, you can still see live coverage and follow along. Watch Live on Ironman Now Facebook Channel
Get more information on Ironman’s Website.