(Reuters) - German Patrick Lange produced a sizzling marathon run, charging to victory in a course record time while Swiss Daniela Ryf claimed a third successive victory in the women’s event at the triathlon Ironman World Championship in Hawaii on Saturday.
Lange came off the 180-km bike leg more than nine minutes behind Canadian Lionel Sanders and still trailled by more than six minutes halfway through the 42.2-km run.
But he turned on the afterburners to pass a shuffling Sanders less than five kilometers from home and looked amazingly fresh as he charged to victory.
Lange grabbed a German flag from a spectator before breaking the tape in eight hours, one minute and 40 seconds in front of a cheering crowd in Kailua-Kona. He was more than two minutes faster than the record set by Australia’s Craig Alexander in 2011.
“It’s everything I ever dreamed of. Oh my god, I cannot believe it,” Lange said. “I always, always, always since I was a child dreamed to have this crown.”
Not that it was as easy as it looked.
“From time to time you think someone is hitting with a baseball beneath your knees and you just want to drop out,” he said. “I had to fight so hard.”
Sanders, who took up triathlon eight years ago in an effort to beat a drug problem, held on for second place, while Briton David McNamee finished third, with Sebastian Kienle in fourth.
Lange, 31, who finished third last year, continued Germany’s recent dominance of the event, with Jan Frodeno winning in 2015 and 2016, while Kienle won in 2014.
Frodeno, who reached the second transition in fourth place, slowed to a walk shortly after starting the run.
Ryf took the lead late in the bike leg and was never threatened during the run as she romped to an emphatic victory over Briton Lucy Charles in second place, nearly nine minutes behind.
“It was the hardest I’ve ever had to fight for a win,” Ryf said after finishing in 8:50:47.
“I felt really bad at the start of the bike, and I didn’t know what would come. I thought I’d just give my all in the last 40k and didn’t even think about the run.”
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Greg Stutchbury