For two-time Ironman European champion Laura Philipp, this World Cup feels “weird”. She has to say that honestly, she says: "But also funny, somehow." Because this time the women are among themselves at the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii.
Over 2,000 age group athletes, 55 professional starters - this time the men only have supporting roles in the mecca of long-distance triathlon; their title was awarded a month ago on the Côte d'Azur.
"I am firmly convinced that we should start together in a race on the same day as soon as possible! Until then, women: show the world your strength," wrote the German runner-up in Nice, Patrick Lange, before the premiere of the first pure Ironman Women's World Championship on Saturday (6:25 a.m. CEST/sportschau.de). Next year the women will start in Nice, the men will then be able to compete again on the Big Island.
"It's a different vibe. It's unusual, but definitely not bad," says Philipp. In 2022, the now 36-year-old from Heidelberg came fourth. At that time, the professional women competed separately from the men in Hawaii, but the field of age group athletes was filled with men. Two days of racing and crowds of athletes, supervisors and fans were too much for Kailua-Kona. Ironman acted, left the number of participants significantly higher and separated the men's and women's World Cup spatially and temporally.
Women's premiere doesn't matter for Haug
“The decision has been made and I’m just concentrating on my race,” emphasizes Anne Haug, the Hawaii third place finisher in 2022. The women’s premiere this year is not important for the 2019 world champion to once again fulfill her title dream in the triathlon place of longing Role. “To be honest, I don’t think about it at all,” said 40-year-old Haug to the German Press Agency.
But those who drove over the 3.86 kilometers of swimming in the Pacific, 180.2 kilometers of cycling with quite a bit of headwind and the final marathon over 42.195 kilometers over the legendary Queen Kaahumanu Highway in the days before the race got to feel the special atmosphere. “Everyone smiles friendly, greets and says hi,” said this year’s winner of the Ironman Germany in Frankfurt, Sarah True: “I love it.” When the men are there too, it's a little more aggressive, said the 41-year-old American and gave the motto for this year: "A celebration of how great it is to be a woman on the island and triathlon things close."
But when the little cannon releases the race, the celebration takes a break, then things get serious. The competition for the 125,000 US dollar prize (approx. 117,700 euros) couldn't be more select. “Everyone has a knife between their teeth,” emphasizes Philipp.
Daniela Ryf wants her sixth World Cup triumph - in addition to the 36-year-old Swiss, there are defending champion Chelsea Sadoro (34/USA), multiple runner-up Lucy Charles-Barclay (30/Great Britain), former World Cup runner-up Kat Matthews (32/Great Britain) as well as two or three other athletes among the medal contenders.
Philipp wants to be on the podium
“Just because you’ve already celebrated success, you can’t rest on your laurels,” says Haug. The Bayreuth native, who weighs just around 50 kilograms, will once again rely primarily on her running strength. But you can't expect a guaranteed podium finish, says Haug, who has always been in the top three at the last four World Championships.
“Of course I want to be on the podium,” explains Philipp. "I think I have the potential, but a lot of things have to work out for me." In addition to Haug and Philipp, the professional women from Germany are Daniela Bleymehl, Laura Zimmermann, Laura Janssen and Loenie Konczalla.
As always, a lot will depend on the racing dynamics. Who is behind how much after swimming and has to invest more on the bike to catch up? Who manages the strength and the last reserves so that the collapse does not occur when running in the difficult conditions of over 30 degrees Celsius and - according to forecasts - around 70 percent humidity.
She is also happy about every man who is there and “hopefully supports us on race day,” confirms Philipp and says with a grin: “I heard from Nice that there was somehow a bit of an excess of testosterone and the women were missing ."