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Champions Of Kona – Battle To Podium at 2019 IRONMAN World Championship

It may be almost November, but we’re still not over what went down at this year’s IRONMAN World Championship.

As usual, it was a day to remember, with inspiring storylines and hard-hitting, gutsy performances on display from start to finish. Records were broken, history was made, and we’re already counting down until we’re back on the shores of the Big Island as the cannon goes off.

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But before we set our sights on 2020, let’s take a look back at what unfolded this year. While we’re proud of all of our Polar athletes, two had especially stand-out performances: Lucy Charles-Barclay and Sebastian Kienle.

Both athletes swam, rode and ran their way onto the podium — Kienle finished in third (of course he won in 2014 and finished in second in 2016), and Charles secured her third consecutive second-place finish.

Here we take a closer look at each of their races, and both Kienle and Charles provide insight into what they were thinking about and feeling as they made their way around the iconic 140.6-mile course.

Lucy Charles-Barclay, Second-Place Finisher, 2019 IRONMAN World Championship

Swim

As a swimming expert (she’s often called The Mermaid), it was no surprise that Lucy went hard and took the lead from the start. She exited the water as first female in 49:02, and was accompanied by another outstanding swimmer, Lauren Brandon (USA). 

Swim split: 49:02 (avg. pace 01:16/100m)

Bike

Over five minutes ahead of the chasing group, Lucy took off on the bike leg alone (due to a transition error by Brandon) and worked her way through the 180 kilometers to enter T2 with a 08:08 lead over the chasing group (Crowley, Bleymehl, Lester, Haug). She looked comfortable and composed on the bike, and it was clear she was racing aggressively for the win.

Bike split: 4:47:21 (avg. pace 37,83 kph)

Run

With an astonishing run leg of 2:51:07, Anne Haug was unstoppable and caught Lucy at 26,1 kilometers into the run. Halfway through the run, Lucy started to fade a bit and at 37,9 km and lost her second place position to Crowley. The last kilometers were a true battle between the two, but Lucy fought her way back and secured yet another amazing second-place finish.

Run split: 3:06:00 (avg. pace 4,35 min/km)

Overall: 8:46:44

Post-race thoughts

Did you look at data during your run leg (watts, pace, heart rate, etc.)? How did you alter your race strategy based on those?

At first I was strict on my pacing as I know it takes a lot of control to hit the right number throughout an entire IRONMAN race. My Polar Vantage V is clear and really well set up for this but unfortunately my legs just were not quite in the shape that I wanted, so I was running to maintain after about 15 kilometers which is all done on feel. I was just checking my HR to make sure I didn’t go too far into the red too early.

From where did you draw the strength to sprint back to second place after being caught by Crowley late in the race?

Reece was there with three kilometers to go and he just woke up an extra reserve in me that I was able to tap into. Unfortunately it was my very last reserve which meant I ended up in medical for an hour or two being rehydrated and looked after.

What lessons did you learn at this year’s Kona that will help you go after the win again next year?

I learned a lot, but that will be the process over the next few weeks to turn them into well-analyzed conclusions which will form the next year’s training plan.

How did you celebrate post-race?

Pizza and Aquilo boots — I know, I’m a rockstar, haha.

Sebastian Kienle, Third-Place Finisher, 2019 IRONMAN World Championship

Swim

The swim has never been Kienle’s strongest leg, but he exited the water in a respectable 25th place surrounded by some notable contenders. He was out of transition and off to the bike leg in 26th place, five minutes behind the leader (Amberger).

Swim split: 0:52:17 (avg. pace 01:21/100m)

Bike

After only 23,6 kilometers into the bike, he was already in the top 10, with a constant steady pace towards the leading group. At 141 kilometers, he was in fifth place and in the first chasing group behind the O’Donnell, Brownlee and Frodeno trio.

Kienle finished the bike leg in fourth, leading the chasing group and only about 15 seconds behind Wurf (who had moved into the top three and Brownlee dropped to fifth place). 

Bike split: 4:14:06 (avg. pace 42,62 kph) – fastest bike split overall

Run

Somewhat slower than Brownlee in transition, Kienle took off into the run course in fifth place, almost four minutes behind Frodeno, who had a strong lead throughout the bike and run legs.

A season without injuries and more running kilometers in the bank paid off as he moved up into third just 8,6 kilometers into the run. He kept his position until the end for a solid third-place finish, despite being slightly disappointed with the result.

Run split: 2:49:57 (avg. pace 3,89 min/km)

Overall: 8:02:04 

Post-race thoughts (via Breakfast with Bob)

You got the second fastest run split at the 70.3 World Championship ahead of people known as good runners, I’m thinking “Sebastian is ready to unleash and go low 2:40s here”. I’m guessing you were thinking the same thing?

Absolutely, I knew I had to do something extraordinary in order to have a slight chance to win the race, and I thought I was prepared to run low 2:40. Starting the marathon I thought the win was still possible. But you know how it is, this course crushes a lot of dreams, and a lot of people think they’re able to do extraordinary things and soon it’s back to reality as soon as you turn left after Palani.

I realized I was holding back quite a lot, checking HR, but I knew I was where I wanted to be. I thought the next 20 kilometers would be my show – but it wasn’t.

I know you’re not happy with 2:49, but to run 2:49 on a tough day and the fact that you’re running injury free has to make you feel that next year could be great.

The most important thing is triathlon was fun again for me this year. For me, that’s the most important thing. The whole preparation, I loved every minute of it. So much so that I’m already looking forward to next year, excited about the whole work in the winter with my new coach.

I think my coach is really motivated after yesterday, as is our whole crew motivated for next year, especially now that it seems I’m finally over the injury. I still need to do something every day for it, but that’s the right mindset to go into next year. I know I’m not there yet, but I’ll keep working for it.

Be sure to also check out our “Kona Champions” highlight on our Instagram.

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Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.

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