Iden conquered Kona with a stunning time of 7:40:24, shattering German Jan Frodeno’s course record of 7:51:13 by more than 10 minutes. The 26-year-old Norwegian also set a new course record for the marathon, finishing the 26.2-mile run in 2:36:15, becoming the first man ever to average a sub-six-minute-mile pace.
Iden’s training partner and fellow Norwegian Kristian Blummenfelt—who came into the race as the defending Ironman World Champion—joined him on the podium, finishing third, just over three minutes back, also beating the previous fastest time ever at Kona. It was a triumphant day for both, the only two Norwegians to ever win the title.
“That was so freaking hard,” said Iden, who during the run wore his “lucky hat,” which bears the name of a Taiwanese temple and has kept him undefeated in race competition. “Everything was going pretty smoothly up until I caught Sam Laidlow, and then when I passed him, oh my God, the island really, really tried to put me down. But I think my hat must be stronger than the legend of the island.”
Iden looked strong from the start and never faltered on his plan for the day. He finished the 2.4-mile swim in a lead group of about 20 frontrunners, then hit the 112-mile bike on his Giant Trinity Advanced Pro with a CADEX Aero WheelSystem. Frenchman Sam Laidlow set the pace on the bike, while Iden and Blummenfelt kept a strong pace in a chase group.
Laidlow went on to set a new course record on the bike, while the two Norwegians paced themselves perfectly, going through the second transition about 6 minutes down. Both began clocking sub-six-minute-miles on the run, while the leader Laidlow was averaging 6:13. Just before mile 19, near the infamous Energy Lab section, Iden made his move and left Blummenfelt behind.
At that point it looked inevitable that Iden would be chasing down Laidlow for the lead. The Norwegian was only getting faster and he finally reeled in the 23-year-old Laidlow at mile 22. Iden gave him a pat on the shoulder and thumbs up as he went by.
“I executed my plan quite well, actually,” said Iden, who wore his Giant Pursuit TT helmet for the bike leg. “Kristian was pushing up the hill from Energy Lab and I waited a few minutes more and pushed when the wind changed. I think my plan was quite solid for a rookie.”
Iden went on to win by two minutes over Laidlow, crossing the line, clutching the finishing tape, and celebrating his accomplishment. Behind him, Blummenfelt fought hard to held off Australian Max Neumann and join his friend and fellow Norwegian on the podium.