Lucy Charles-Barclay (GBR) Soars atop Stellar Field to Become The 2023 Vinfast Ironman World Champion in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`I
October 15, 2023
- After four previous second place finishes at the IRONMAN World Championship in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2022, Charles-Barclay puts it all together against arguably the deepest and most talented field in the history of the IRONMAN World Championship - Germany’s Anne Haug and Laura Philipp take second and third spots on the podium in the first Women’s only VinFast IRONMAN World Championship triathlon in the events 40-year history - In her first ever IRONMAN, American Taylor Knibb earns remarkable fourth place finish, while five-time IRONMAN World Champion Daniela Ryf (SUI) takes fifth
KAILUA-KONA, Hawai`i /SPORTSWIRE WOMEN/ – History was made today in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i as the first-ever women’s-only VinFast IRONMAN World Championship unfolded on triathlon’s historic homeland, with Great Britain’s Lucy Charles-Barclay earning the crown in a perfectly executed performance. The female professional field featured defending and past IRONMAN World Champions, as well as a host of IRONMAN winners creating for one of the deepest and most talented fields in race history. Charles-Barclay finally broke through the tape first leading the race from start to finish after four previous second place finishes at the IRONMAN World Championship.
Charles-Barclay’s storybook victory started in the water with her event best 49:36 swim. She held her own at the front of the race for the entirety of her 4:32:29 bike and ran a 2:57:37 marathon to put together an overall time of 8:24:31, setting a new women’s course best time at the IRONMAN World Championship.
The 2.4-mile, one-lap, non-wetsuit swim was held in Kailua Bay’s clear, turquoise water. A light chop on the water made for slightly more difficult conditions, but that didn’t stop the mermaid herself—Lucy Charles-Barclay—from breaking away within a few hundred meters of the start cannon sounding.
As expected, Charles-Barclay swam away from the field. Behind her, the women gradually split into packs: the smaller of which, approximately 30 seconds back, was led by Lauren Brandon (USA) and Haley Chura (USA), with the second, 45 seconds back, containing many of the sport’s super-bikers: Daniela Ryf (CHE), Taylor Knibb (USA), Skye Moench (USA), Anne Haug (DEU) and Kat Matthews (GBR).
The third chase pack contained pre-race notables last year’s VinFast IRONMAN World Champion, Chelsea Sodaro (USA) and Fenella Langridge (GBR).
Out of the water in 49:36, just over a minute shy of her own swim course best time of 48:14, Charles-Barclay blazed through transition and headed out onto the 112-mile (180km) FulGaz bike course. Chura, Brandon, Rebecca Clarke (NZL) and others exited the water approximately 1:30 minutes back, with Knibb at the tail of that group. Hannah Berry (AUS) lead a third group into transition 4 minutes back, including Langridge, Sodaro, Sarah True (USA), Matthews, Lisa Norden (SWE), Haug, Ryf, and others.
With Charles-Barclay in her sights, Knibb displayed both rookie enthusiasm and also unparalleled bike strength, pushing into third over the opening miles. She overtook Brandon for second, leaving a growing gap to the athletes behind her.
As she had done on the swim, Charles-Barclay did not falter over the entire 112-mile bike ride, maintaining her lead over Knibb and putting time into the rest of the field.
At the start of the ride, five-time IRONMAN World Champion Ryf was in eighth place. After Kawaihae, as the road begins to climb to Hawi, she put in a significant effort with a group containing Langridge, Matthews, and Jocelyn McCauley (USA), eventually overtaking Brandon, Chura, and Clarke to move into third. “This is the Daniela we’re used to seeing,” commentator Matt Lieto said on course.
Frustrated by a swim that left her further back than she’d hoped, Laura Phillipp (DEU) was climbing through the ranks as well.
Other players on the bike included Els Visser (NLD), who made a pass of more than ten athletes to move from 20th place into seventh along the climb to Hawi. Norden, Philipp, and McCauley eventually overtook Ryf. Super runner and 2019 IRONMAN World Champion Haug rode herself into seventh by the end of the bike course, and American Skye Moench also rode well, moving into eighth.
Charles-Barclay entered T2 with a 3:47 lead on Knibb, and over 10 minutes on McCauley, in third. Philipp entered transition in fourth, also over 10 minutes back, but in a much better position than last year when she had to serve a 5-minute penalty on the bike. After her, it was Norden, Ryf, and Haug, who would be putting the pressure on from behind.
Over the first miles of the marathon, the question became who could uber-runner Haug could catch, and how soon. But at the helm of the race, Charles-Barclay did not relent, despite a reported Achilles issue.
Haug blazed past Knibb around mile 18, moving into second place. Philipp caught the American IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion late in the marathon, running into third place.
A runner-up in Kona four times, the Brit had held Knibb off confidently through the oppressive heat of the legendary course, and up the Palani Hill. The hard-charging Germans were also no match for her as she made the final turn down Ali’i Drive, running to a much-anticipated victory with a marathon over five minutes faster than she ran last year.
Having executed a near-perfect swim, bike and run, Charles-Barclay soared to the finish line in 8:24:31, breaking Daniela Ryf’s 2018 course best time of 8:26:18. After many attempts, injuries, and hard work along the way, she finally was able to do what she had come to Hawai`i so many times to do.
“It’s really hard to put it into words,” Charles-Barclay said at the finish line. “I’ve been wanting this so badly since I started my career. It’s taken me five attempts and I’ve finally done it. I don’t think it’s sunk in whatsoever, but I’m just over the moon.”
“All of the pro women were cheering me on, and to have their support even when we’re all out there suffering just shows how amazing this sport is.”
Haug ran the marathon in 2:48:23, breaking Mirinda Carfrae’s 2:50:26 longstanding run course best from 2014. “Because we have so many high-class athletes right now, we have to push each other,” she said at the finish line. “You have to go faster to be on the podium. Everyone has to step up to keep up, and I think that’s really good for the sport.”
Laura Philipp bested her fourth-place performance last year, coming in third: “I was a bit disappointed with my swim … I knew I really had to do some work on the bike and I rode a lot harder than I was planning to. While I was riding, I was thinking that the run could turn out slower than expected. But I stayed focused the whole time, and just tried to do my thing. When I saw Taylor was also struggling out of the Energy Lab, I tried to invest everything I could.”
Knibb performed extremely well in her Kona and full-distance IRONMAN debut, holding on for fourth, and the ever-impressive five-time IRONMAN World Champion, Ryf bid adieu to this race course with class and a strong fifth place finish.
Showcasing women’s racing in historic fashion today, these professionals swam, biked, and ran with strength, style, and class, showing the world yet again that Anything is Possible and women deserve an equal world stage.
Top five professional women’s results:
|1. Lucy Charles-Barclay
|2. Anne Haug
|3. Laura Philipp
|4. Taylor Knibb
|5. Daniela Ryf
Full results for the 2023 Women’s VinFast IRONMAN World Championship triathlon can be found at www.ironman.com/im-world-championship-2023-results.
For additional event information, please visit www.ironman.com/im-world-championship-2023. Media inquiries may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the IRONMAN World Championship
Since its inception in 1978 on the Island of O`ahu, the IRONMAN World Championship® triathlon has etched its name in history through stellar performances, inspirational participants and emotional memories. In 1981, the race moved from the tranquil shores of Waikīkī to the barren lava fields of Kona on the Island of Hawai`i. The most iconic one-day sporting event in the world is the culmination of 40 global IRONMAN events with over 94,000 athletes around the world striving for one of the coveted qualifying slots. The 2021 edition of the event took place in St. George, Utah in May 2022, becoming the first location to host the event outside of Hawai`i since its origins in 1978. After a two-year hiatus from Hawai`i due to COVID, the race returned to Kailua-Kona in 2022 and for the first time took place as a two-day event. The 2023 VinFast IRONMAN World Championship race continues with the two-day format but with two different host locations and dates (Nice, France in September and Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i in October), to allow for a dedicated world championship race for women and dedicated world championship race for men. With two days of racing, the cumulative event will host over 4,000 athletes as they embark on a 140.6-mile journey that presents the ultimate test of body, mind, and spirit to earn the title of IRONMAN World Champion. For more information, visit www.ironman.com/im-world-championship.
About The IRONMAN Group
The IRONMAN Group operates a global portfolio of events that includes the IRONMAN® Triathlon Series, the IRONMAN® 70.3® Triathlon Series, 5150™ Triathlon Series, the Rock ‘n’ Roll® Running Series, IRONKIDS®, World Triathlon Championship Series, premier running events including the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon™ and City2Surf®, UTMB® World Series trail-running events including the Canyons Endurance Runs™ by UTMB®, Tarawera Ultra by UTMB® and Ultra-Trail Australia™ by UTMB®, Epic Series™ mountain bike races including the Absa Cape Epic®, road cycling events including Haute Route®, and other multisport races. The IRONMAN Group is the largest operator of mass participation sports in the world and provides more than a million participants annually the benefits of endurance sports through the company’s vast offerings. Catering to the full athlete experience, the company portfolio also includes FulGaz® virtual cycling, the most realistic indoor riding experience connected fitness application aimed at preparing athletes for real-world events. Since the inception of the iconic IRONMAN® brand and its first event in 1978, athletes have proven that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE® by crossing finish lines around the world. Beginning as a single race, The IRONMAN Group has grown to become a global sensation with hundreds of events across 55+ countries. The IRONMAN Group is owned by Advance, a private, family-owned business, and Orkila Capital, a growth equity firm focused on building great brands. For more information, visit www.ironman.com/about-ironman-group.
Advance is a private, family-held business that owns and invests in companies across media, entertainment, technology, communications, education and other promising growth sectors. Our mission is to build the value of our companies over the long-term by fostering growth and innovation. Advance’s portfolio includes Condé Nast, Advance Local, Stage Entertainment, The IRONMAN Group, American City Business Journals, Leaders Group, Turnitin, and Pop. Together these operating companies employ more than 17,000 people in 29 countries. Advance is also among the largest shareholders in Charter Communications, Warner Bros. Discovery and Reddit. For more information visit www.advance.com.