IRONMAN history was made in Kona, Hawaii, this year, in more ways than one...
👉For the first time in the event’s 45-year run, the women of IRONMAN (or should we say IRONWOMAN?) took complete charge of the big island.
🏊♀️🚵♀️🏃♀️The inaugural women’s-only IRONMAN World Championships welcomed over 2,200 of the fiercest female athletes in endurance sports—no boys allowed.
😲As if that weren’t enough, first place finisher Lucy Charles-Barclay shattered the course record with a time of 8:24:31.
But that's still not all...
Every other winner in IRONMAN lore has leapfrogged back and forth with other contenders for at least some portion of the race.
Charles-Barclay, however, took the lead from the very beginning and held it through her final steps.
That’s where Charles-Barclay truly rocked the boat.
🏊♀️For someone who got her start as a distance swimmer, her initial lead in the swim came as no surprise.
Not this time, though.
That’s not to say that her fellow triathletes didn’t put up a serious fight.
The standings remained relatively stable from there as the women neared the end of their 112 cycling journey. .
While they laced up their shoes to run, though, the race’s new mantra courtesy of title sponsor HOKA must have taken root.
All expectations flew out the window as the women began to “Fly Human Fly” down the course and change up the order entirely.
Knibb, just 25 years old and fresh off of an Olympic qualifier, seemed poised to follow Charles-Barclay through to the finish.
While there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that she has plenty of endurance potential, her debut still left her fading in the final third of the run.
🏃♀️Anne Haug, the 2019 World Champion who’d spent the run slowly creeping up through the ranks, took over second place at mile 18. Knibb rallied for third until Philipp snuck in with barely a mile to go.
🏆Charles-Barclay, Haug, and Philipp lined the podium with Knibb in fourth and Ryf closing out the top five.
Maybe these new records and unexpected upsets have happened regardless of the gender dynamic.
But bystanders here in Kona are inclined to believe that girl power has a lot to do with it.
Anyone who’s ever taken part in any race knows that a good crowd makes all the difference.
The IRONMAN community has always shown up strong for its competitors; this year’s new format just took that positive energy and channeled it entirely into the women’s field.
Competitors and organizers felt the change too. HOKA athlete Els Visser, who finished in 15th, noticed how much easier it was to...
But the purity of a female-focused race allows for the “determination and will of the women here” to shine through more brightly.
That exposure could very well trigger an uptick in female triathletes.
VP of global marketing at HOKA, Erika Gabrielli, backs up that observation:.
“We are thrilled to see our female athletes getting the attention they deserve,” she said.
“The spotlight is on them, which provides a real opportunity to show women across the world the joy, community and personal achievement that comes from participating in an IRONMAN World Championship."
"As a brand, this has always been one of our goals. We’re excited to welcome more women into what has historically been a male-dominated sport.”
If the 2023 IRONMAN World Championships can teach runners of either gender anything, it’s that:
Everyone in IRONMAN embraced the change, and that resulted in the best year yet for female competitors.
Adopt an attitude that celebrates change to see your own dreams play out too.