It’s one of the iconic European races and this year’s Ironman Switzerland did not disappoint. In two enthralling – but very different – races, Ronnie Schildknecht overcame a slow swim to record a comfortable win – his sixth in a row in Switzerland, while Erika Csomor ran her way to victory in a tight women’s race.
The Men’s Race
A packed field lined up at the start, and it was Manuel Kung (49:42) who managed to get his nose out of the water ahead of the impressive Ironman newbie Jan Van Berkel (49:46). Daniel Halksworth was third (50:19) ahead of Mathias Hecht (50:24), with pre-race favourite Ronnie Schildknecht nearly six-minutes down on the leaders (55:38).
Van Berkel immediately went to work on the bike, opening up a 1:35 gap on Kung and 2:45 on Halksworth / Hecht inside the first 20km. Behind them, Schildknecht was making his move. Riding the first 35km in 49:44 (42.2km/h average) he may have been in sixth position, but he was steadily bridging the gap to Van Berkel. Hecht, too, was catching the early leader, and as the heaven’s opened was riding just 10 seconds back of his fellow Swiss. It wasn’t long before Schildknecht joined the front runners, taking second place off Hecht at 125km and assuming the race lead at 130km. If the manner in which Schildknecht had caught the leaders was impressive, the manner in which Van Berkel had bossed the first half of the race was outstanding. Van Berkel had just eight weeks to prepare for Switzerland and had never raced a 70.3 – let alone an Ironman – before.
But Schildknecht had taken up the reins and he was about to lay down the gauntlet for the rest of the field. As the leaders hit the infamous ‘Beast’, Schildknecht put down the hammer and opened up a three-minute gap on Van Berkel. It was impressive stuff. A 4:27:42 bike split brought Schildknecht into T2 nearly 10-minutes up on Van Berkel (4:42:59), with Hecht – who picked up a flat on the run into T2 – a further 30-seconds back (4:42:50).
If anyone was going to catch Schildknecht they were going to have to go some. ‘Rocket’ Ronnie knocked off the first 5km in 18:35 and went through 10.5km in 40:21. It was impressive stuff. Van Berkel was doing all he could to catch the Swiss star, and his 1:21:07 first half marathon gave him a slight advantage on Schildknecht (1:22:17), but it was never going to be enough. In the end, Schildknecht registered an 2:51:29 marathon to take the tape in 8:17:13. Van Berkel came over the line an impressive second (8:32:27) with Hecht third (8:42:08).
Special mention goes to Mike Schifferle who placed sixth (8:50:16). Switzerland was the American’s fourth Ironman in five weeks (Regensburg – third, Nice – ninth, Frankfurt – thirteenth).
The Women’s Race
All eyes were on the pros, but it was age grouper Henneke de Boer who was quickest out of the water, registering an impressive 54:10. It was almost a minute before we saw any of the other women, with Susie Fawcett (55:04) and Simone Brandli (55:27) the next to emerge from the wet stuff. Meanwhile, Bella Bayliss (59:45) and Erika Csomor (1:02:12) had left themselves with a lot to do on the bike to catch the early leaders.
Despite De Boer’s early speed on the bike, it was Brandli who quickly took control of the race. Passing the 35km timing mat she had a 54 second lead over De Boer, with Carla Stampfli the next pro nearly four-minutes back.
Brandli continued to lead the race through 85km, but slowly and surely she was being pulled back. Regula Rohrbach was riding just 39 seconds back, with Erika Csomor and Bella Bayliss just under six minutes down the road. And that is how things stayed. Rohrbach joined Brandli at the front, before Brandli was able to drop her in the latter stages of the bike and take a two-minute advantage into T2 (5:08:00). However, Rohrbach had been joined in second by Erika Csomor (5:03:47) and Bella Bayliss (5:05:26) with Nikki Butterfield (5:03:10) less than a minute down.
The race was perfectly poised. Csomor was the first to make a move, catching a passing Brandli inside 5km. Butterfield was the next to pass Brandli, before Bayliss caught her a few kilometres later. It was all on these three. Csomor started to build a lead – more than three-minutes through the halfway point – but Bayliss was on the hunt. Passing Butterfield – who was hurting after Ironman Frankfurt the week before – she was doing everything she could to chase down Csomor. But the Hungarian was too strong. Csomor slowly but surely extended her lead, and took the win with a 3:11:37 marathon (9:20:16). Bayliss was second (9:25:54) with Brandli third (9:30:58).
Top 5 Men
1. Ronnie Schildknecht (SUI) 8:17:13
2. Jan Van Berkel (SUI) 8:32:27
3. Mathias Hecht (SUI) 8:42:08
4. Sergio Marques (POR) 8:43:12
5. Scott DeFilippis (USA) 8:46:42
Top 5 Women
1. Erika Csomor (HUN) 9:20:16
2. Bella Bayliss (GBR) 9:25:54
3. Simone Brandli (SUI) 9:30:58
4. Regula Rohrbach (SUI) 9:35:10
5. Monique Grossrieder (SUI) 9:55:40
FILED UNDER: Race Results TAGS: About / Bella Bayliss / Erika-Csomor / Ironman-Switzerland / Jan Van Berkel / Mathias-Hecht / Regula Rohrbach / report / Results / Ronnie-Schildknecht / Scott DeFilippis / Sergio-Marques / Simone Brandli