KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii — American professional triathlete Timothy O’Donnell finished second Saturday in the men’s pro race at the Vega IRONMAN World Championship in Hawaii, marking his second career Kona podium after a third-place finish in 2015. The U.S had not had a podium finisher at the event since 2016, when Heather Jackson took third in the women’s pro race.
O’Donnell covered the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run in 7 hours, 59 minutes, 40 seconds — the fastest finish ever for an American at the IRONMAN World Championship, and his first sub-eight-hour performance on the infamous course. Germany’s Jan Frodeno was the men’s winner, crossing the line in a new IRONMAN World Championship record of 7:51:13. Rounding out the podium was German Sebastian Kienle in 8:02:04.
Australia’s Josh Amberger was first out of the water in 47:28, but Frodeno, Great Britain’s Alistair Brownlee, Denmark’s Daniel Bakkegard and O’Donnell were all less than 10 seconds in his wake. The competition stayed close on the bike, as the four leading athletes — Frodeno, Germany’s Maurice Clavel, Brownlee and O’Donnell — were within six seconds of each other at the halfway mark.
After briefly taking the lead around mile 68 of the bike, O’Donnell was overtaken by eventual winner Frodeno. The German built a gap of 1:26 on O’Donnell by the time they hit the run course.
The American held onto his runner-up spot from there, clocking a 2:49:44 marathon en route to second place. The Kona veteran now has eight IRONMAN World Championship finishes to his name and has been the top American in 2013 (5th), 2015 (3rd), 2018 (4th) and 2019 (2nd).
Ben Hoffman (Boulder, Colo.) was just off the podium in fourth, crossing the line in 8:02:52. Chris Leiferman (Longmont, Colo.) rounded out the top-10 in 8:13:37.
In the women’s race, Jackson (Bend, Ore.) led the U.S. with a fifth-place finish in 8:54:44. Germany ruled the day on the women’s side as well, as Anne Haug broke the tape with a time of 8:40:10. Great Britain’s Lucy Charles-Barclay was the runner-up for the third consecutive year in 8:46:44, and Australia’s Sarah Crowley repeated her 2017 finish to take third in 8:48:13.
Charles-Barclay used her signature swim speed to take the early lead, as she and Lauren Brandon (Fort Worth, Texas), exited the water in 49:02 with nearly a five-minute gap on the rest of the field. By the halfway mark on the bike, Charles-Barclay was still leading the field by 6:13 — and by the end of the 112-mile course, she widened that gap to more than eight minutes.
Haug started the run in fifth but moved her way through the field at a blistering pace, hovering between 6:15-6:30 per mile. By mile 16, she had overtaken Charles-Barclay off the front. The German never let up, ultimately racing to her first Kona victory after placing third here last year.
Just after the 20-mile mark, Crowley briefly overtook Charles-Barclay — but the Brit found her second wind and reclaimed the runner-up spot in the final two miles.
Jackson, meanwhile, worked her way up the field throughout the race. She was 12th out of the water, 11th at the halfway mark of the bike and seventh at the start of the run. At just past the halfway point on the run, Jackson passed Australia’s Carrie Lester to move into the top-five. The performance marks Jackson’s fourth career top-five finish as a pro in Kona.
Linsey Corbin (Missoula, Mont.) was the second U.S. woman across the line, taking 10th with a time of 9:09:06. Sarah True (Cooperstown, N.Y.), who led the U.S. women last year with a fourth-place finish, suffered a mechanical on the bike and dropped out of the race.
Nearly 700 U.S. age-group athletes also raced at the Vega IRONMAN World Championship. Twenty Americans finished in the top-five in their respective divisions, led by world champions Richard Sweet (M55-59, San Diego, Calif.), Bobbe Greenberg (F70-74, Highland Park, Ill.) and Gennaro Magliulo (M75-79, New Port Richey, Fla.). Sweet and Greenberg earned the world champion titles in their age groups for the second consecutive year.
Lisle Adams (Lexington, Ky.) won the men’s physically challenged division with a time of 14:28:30, and Roderick Sewell (San Diego, Calif.) took third in 16:26:59. In the men’s handcycle division, Jason Fowler (Kingston, Mass.) finished second with a time of 12:19:53.
Complete results and more information about the 2019 Vega IRONMAN World Championship are available at IRONMAN.com.
2019 Vega IRONMAN World Championship
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run
1. Jan Frodeno (GER), 7:51:13
2. Timothy O’Donnell (Boulder, Colo.), 7:59:40
3. Sebastian Kienle (GER), 8:02:04
2. Timothy O’Donnell (Boulder, Colo.), 7:59:40
4. Ben Hoffman (Boulder, Colo.), 8:02:52
10. Chris Leiferman (Longmont, Colo.), 8:13:37
14. Andy Potts (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 8:19:30
17. Matthew Russell (Sarasota, Fla), 8:22:18
1. Anne Haug (GER), 8:40:10
2. Lucy Charles-Barclay (GBR), 8:46:44
3. Sarah Crowley (AUS), 8:48:13
5. Heather Jackson (Bend, Ore.), 8:54:44
10. Linsey Corbin (Missoula, Mont.), 9:09:06
14. Sarah Piampiano (San Francisco, Calif.), 9:16:29
22. Lesley Smith (Boulder, Colo.), 9:31:40
31. Lauren Brandon (Fort Worth, Texas), 10:16:10
32. Danielle Mack (Boulder, Colo.), 10:22:35
U.S. Age Group Top-Five Finishers
4. Jacqui Giuliano (Oakwood Hills, Ill.), 9:50:10
2. Maggie Walsh (Littleton, Colo.), 10:03:25
5. Ryan Giuliano (Oakwood Hills, Ill.), 8:51:34
5. Brice Williams (Ogden, Utah), 9:05:26
4. Eric Harr (Fairfax, Calif.), 9:31:54
5. Sue Pierson (Green Bay, Wis.), 11:21:54
1. Richard Sweet (San Diego, Calif.), 9:32:39
4. Tom Trauger (Las Vegas, Calif.), 10:00:07
5. Mark Mumford (Scottsdale, Ariz.), 10:07:16
5. Julia Daggett (Clarksville, Tenn.), 12:33:54
2. Missy LeStrange (Visalia, Calif.), 13:10:55
2. Steven Pulver (San Clemente, Calif.), 11:36:09
3. Eric Johnson (Freedom, Calif.), 11:40:54
5. Gregory Taylor (Yankton, S.D.), 11:42:07
1. Bobbe Greenberg (Highland Park, Ill.), 14:07:11
3. Liz Friedman (Redding, Calif.), 15:14:58
3. Andrew Loeb (Kailua-Kona, Hawaii), 13:16:05
4. Simon Butterworth (Lafayette, Colo.), 13:48:36
1. Gennaro Magliulo (New Port Richey, Fla.), 13:32:15
5. Gene Peters (Park City, Utah), 14:46:57
M — Physically Challenged Division
1. Lisle Adams (Lexington, Ky.), 14:28:30
2. Palle Palkowski (GER), 15:56:37
3. Roderick Sewell (San Diego, Calif.), 16:26:59
M — Handcycle Division
1. Matthew Brumby (AUS), 11:54:19
2. Jason Fowler (Kingston, Mass.), 12:19:53
3. Rodger Krause (Wyomissing, Pa.), 13:48:44
About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 events and connects with more than 400,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work at the grassroots level with athletes, coaches, and race directors — as well as the USA Triathlon Foundation — USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).