The 2017 ICY HOT Ironman 70.3 World Championship kicked off today in Chattanooga, Tennessee with Daniela Ryf (CHE) claiming victory in the women’s race with a time of 4:11:59.

With the win, Ryf becomes the first athlete to earn three Ironman 70.3 World Championship titles. Ryf charged ahead of her opponents early into the bike course, and as she transitioned into the run, had put nearly nine minutes on the rest of the pack. Marking the first-ever two-day Ironman World Championship, approximately 1,700 female athletes were registered to compete in day one of the ICY HOT Ironman 70.3 World Championship.

Daniela Ryf in the finishing chuteDaniela Ryf in the finishing chute
(Photo: Donald Miralle / Ironman; click to enlarge)

After the starting gun went off, the USA's Lauren Brandon charged to the front, with fellow Americans Haley Chura and Sarah True pulling their weight in the up-current portion of the 1.2-mile swim. The three held their positions as the downstream current ushered them back into T1, with Brandon clocking the fastest swim of the day (25:23). But by the start of the bike, it was clear that Ryf would go on to command the day. Into T2 well ahead of a chase pack of 10, Ryf took off on the run, ready to back up her race-best bike split of 2:20:21 with a strong half marathon that would lead to her third Ironman 70.3 World Championship in the past four years.

Ryf was welcomed to the finish line by a roaring crowd as well as celebratory hugs by her close friends and coach. Her finish adds yet another notch in her already-strong season, as Ryf has also picked up wins at Ironman South Africa and Ironman 70.3 races in Dubai and Switzerland. No stranger to the podium, Ryf has also claimed two victories at the Ironman World Championship in Hawai'i and will go for three in-a-row at that event this October.

“I definitely knew coming in today that I was ready for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship and really tried to give it my best,” said Ryf. “It was a special win for me, especially after not having a perfect season and recovering from an injury that hasn’t allowed me to go as hard as I wanted to for many of my races. To come in here and be able to show your best - well, it couldn’t be better.”

“(My performance) last year motivated me to train harder after not having a great race in at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Mooloolaba,” she added. “This year I really tried to take the good energy with me into the race. This race meant a lot and I really wanted to show a good performance today. I feel very happy to take the win, but it was a hard race. I had to really give it my best and I knew that was needed to be able to win today.”

British middle-distance run specialist Emma Pallant was keen to establish herself as one to watch in triathlon. She stormed into second place at mile one, showcasing a flawless technique that would propel her to a race-best run split (1:19:48). Laura Philip (DEU) remained consistent to hold on to third, with American newcomer Sarah True putting on a memorable performance, and Denmark's Helle Frederiksen fighting strong for fifth. Meanwhile, last year’s champion Holly Lawrence pulled out of the race around mile 25 of the bike.

The impressive field of athletes tackled a 1.9 km swim in the Tennessee River, followed by a 90 km bike ride through Lookout Mountain and into downtown Chattanooga, capped with a 21 km run along the Tennessee Riverwalk and Riverfront Parkway, finishing at Ross’s landing. In order to qualify for the 2017 ICY HOT Ironman 70.3 World Championship, more than 185,000 age-group athletes competed to earn slots at over 100 Ironman 70.3 events held worldwide.

The men will compete tomorrow, September 10, in a similar battle, on the quest for the final 2017 ICY HOT Ironman 70.3 World Championship title. When all is said and done, approximately 4,500 athletes from 90 countries, regions and territories will have competed in this world-renowned event, marking the largest field of any Ironman or Ironman 70.3 triathlon to date.

Results: Ironman 70.3 World Champs

Elite Women

    Swim   Bike   Run   Finish
1. Daniela Ryf (CHE) 0:26:26 2:20:21 1:22:06 4:11:59
2. Emma Pallant (GBR) 0:27:53 2:28:01 1:19:48 4:18:36
3. Laura Philip (DEU) 0:29:47 2:25:46 1:21:13 4:19:40
4. Sarah True (USA) 0:25:38 2:30:17 1:22:46 4:21:40
5. Helle Frederiksen (DEN) 0:26:23 2:29:07 1:23:41 4:22:12
6. Annabel Luxford (AUS) 0:26:35 2:28:54 1:25:38 4:24:04
7. Heather Wurtele (CAN) 0:27:52 2:27:34 1:27:00 4:25:39
8. Jeanni Seymour (ZAF) 0:27:40 2:28:21 1:27:42 4:26:30
9. Haley Chura (USA) 0:25:35 2:31:56 1:26:21 4:27:00
10. Mel Hauschildt (AUS) 0:30:22 2:28:22 1:25:32 4:27:36