Despite both being first-time competitors in Kona, the two Norwegians came into the race as favorites to win. Blummenfelt was the defending Ironman World Champion, having won the title last May in St. George, Utah, on his CADEX Tri bike with a CADEX Aero WheelSystem.
Iden was forced to miss the St. George event when he came down with a respiratory illness just days before the race. Since that moment, the 26-year-old had been focused on Kona, posting several major wins this summer in his lead-up to Hawaii.
This marked the first Ironman World Championship in Kona since 2019, with the past two events being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The triathlon world had been waiting for this moment, and the athletes didn’t disappoint.
Iden was unstoppable, conquering the course with a stunning time of 7:40:24, which shattered the course record of 7:51:13 (set by German Jan Frodeno in 2019) by more than 10 minutes. He also set a new course record for the marathon, finishing the 26.2-mile run in 2:36:15, becoming the first man to average a sub-six-minute-mile pace. Blummenfelt finished third, just over three minutes back, also beating the previous fastest time ever at Kona. It was a triumphant day for both, the only two Norwegians to ever win the title.
“That was so freaking hard,” said Iden, who during the run wore his “lucky hat,” which bears the name of a Taiwanese temple and has kept him undefeated in race competition. “Everything was going pretty smoothly up until I caught Sam Laidlow, and then when I passed him, oh my God, the island really, really tried to put me down. But I think my hat must be stronger than the legend of the island.”
Iden looked strong from the start and never faltered on his plan for the day. He finished the 2.4-mile swim in a lead group of about 20 frontrunners, then hit the 112-mile bike on his Giant Trinity Advanced Pro with a CADEX Aero WheelSystem. Frenchman Sam Laidlow set the pace on the bike, while Iden and Blummenfelt kept a strong pace in a chase group.
Laidlow went on to set a new course record on the bike, while the two Norwegians paced themselves perfectly, going through the second transition about 6 minutes down. Hitting the run, both began clocking sub-six-minute-miles while the leader Laidlow was averaging 6:13. Just before mile 19, near the notorious Energy Lab section, Iden made his move and left Blummenfelt behind.
At that point it looked inevitable that Iden would chase down Laidlow for the lead. The Norwegian was picking up speed, and he finally reeled in the 23-year-old Laidlow at mile 22. Iden gave him a pat on the shoulder and thumbs up as he went by.
“I executed my plan quite well, actually,” Iden said. “Kristian was pushing up the hill from Energy Lab and I waited a few minutes more and pushed when the wind changed. I think my plan was quite solid for a rookie.”