Original Article from Ironman.com
22-year-old German Rico Bogen took the crown at the 2023 VinFast IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship with a time of 3:32:22—a new IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship best time, topping Michael Raelert’s 3:34:04 set in 2009. He swam 22:52 over the 1.9 km (1.2-mile) ROKA swim course in Lake Vesijärvi’s crystal-clear waters, biked the 90km (56-mile) FULGAZ bike course in 1:56:17 on the day’s calm and cool conditions, and ran a 1:11:02 on the 21.1km (13.1-mile) HOKA run course to finish among cheering crowds.
Completing the podium were fellow Germans Frederic Funk (03:33:26) and Jan Stratmann (03:34:11), making it the first-ever all-German podium in an IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship.
On the shores of Lake Vesijärvi in Lahti, Finland today, triathlon fans worldwide witnessed the return of the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship to European soil. Male professionals and age-groupers alike took to the mild waters of Teivaa Harbour, ready to test themselves not only against the world’s best, but the region’s beautiful swim, bike, and run courses.
Americans Ben Kanute and Mark Dubric were among the early leaders in the water, setting the tight swim up from the get-go. The front group of 15 to 20 athletes formed a long stream, all in contact with one another until the second half of the swim. Defending IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship Kristian Blummenfelt was farther back than most expected, with the company of American Sam Long.
A frantic swim exit featured a steady stream of men all within 2:20 of each other. Justus Nieschlag (DEU) was first out of the water in 23:43 with Jorgen Gunderson (DEN), Marc Dubric, Rico Borgen, Kanute and others out of the water just seconds behind the leader.
Blummenfelt exited the water 1:29 back, with Matt Hanson (USA) and Jackson Laundry (CAN) on his heels. It was a great swim for Lionel Sanders (CAN) and Sam Long as well, in close proximity to each other out of the water, setting them both up well to work together on the bike.
It was a true European showcase over the 90 km (56 mile) bike course through the Finnish countryside. With very low winds and a sprinkling of rain, weather wasn’t a huge factor as the men began to power through the rolling course.
Reminiscent of the era in Kona when German cyclists dominated the sport (circa 1990’s), five Germans drove the front of the bike, with Frenchman Mathis Margirier holding his own in the mix. Frederic Funk (DEU) moved up early in the bike to join Bogen, Nieschlag, Jan Stratman (DEU), and Maximillian Sperl (DEU), joined by Brit Joshua Lewis held steady in the front group, which continued to put time into the chase group behind them.
Funk moved through the field in the opening kilometers of the bike, with Long and Sanders putting in solid moves on the bike as well; until Sanders was delivered a penalty, he’d moved into tenth. The front pack continued to put time onto everyone behind them, however.
Funk was off the bike in 1:55:13 and out of transition in the lead. Margriere was hot on his heels, with Bogen, Nieschlag, Stratman, and Lewis all chasing.
Margriere and Funk ran out onto the two-loop, 21.1 km (13.1 mile) HOKA run course stride for stride, with Bogen, Stratman, Nieschlag and Lewis ready to put the chase on all within a minute back.
Sperl and Long lead the second group out of transition, starting the run approximately 3:30 back of the leading six men.
At just two kilometers in, 22-year-old Rico Bogen, who won IRONMAN 70.3 Kraichgau earlier this summer, made a surprisingly aggressive move to the front. He held onto his lead, running a blistering average pace in the low 3-minute range and putting more time into Margriere with every passing kilometer. Funk passed the Frenchman for second at 14 kilometers, and Stratmann passed him near the 20-kilometer mark.
Bogen soared across the finish line with a run split of 1:11:02 and a finish time of 3:32:22, a relative fresh face in the sport taking an astonishing win on the world stage. His countrymen and fellow bike powerhouses Funk and Stratmann were across the line within minutes of the leader, making for an all-German podium and all-European top-five.
“I think I’m the youngest world champion maybe, it’s really unbelievable,” Bogen said at the finish line. “The bike was really hard, but I had my running legs.” Bogen, 22 years of age, indeed has become the youngest to claim the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship title, surpassing Gustav Iden (NOR) who was 23 when he won the event in 2019.
Frederick Funk said after his race, “My goal was to be better than last year. I tried a few times to get away from the group, but the race dynamics were really high level on the bike. I tried to conserve as much energy as possible on the bike and play my cards well. On the run I surprised myself—I’ve never run that well. I think the run really suited me.”
Top five professional men’s results:
|1. Rico Bogen
|2. Frederic Funk
|3. Jan Stratmann
|4. Mathis Margirier
|5. Joshua Lewis