For the first time in the 45 years of the IRONMAN World Championship, the event was hosted as a two-day event with the professional women and professional men both being able to race on their own days. Given the two-day format, it was the largest female and overall athlete field to compete at the IRONMAN World Championship. With the extra time, professional men, including would-be 2022 VinFast IRONMAN World Champion Gustav Iden (NOR) and the 2021 IRONMAN World Champion Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR), lined the course to support the women racing, while the women did the same, with Sarah Crowley (AUS) even volunteering at an aid station.
Chelsea Sodaro became the first American woman to win the IRONMAN World Championship since 1996. The last American female to win prior to Sodaro was the Queen of Kona, Paula Newby-Fraser who is from Zimbabwe but became a United States citizen prior to winning in 1996. American Karen Smyers won in 1995, breaking a streak from 1985 without a female winner from the U.S. Sodaro was also the first male or female American to win the IRONMAN World Championship since 2002 and the first professional rookie to win the event in 15 years. She did so just 18 months after giving birth to her daughter.
Gustav Iden (NOR) had a historic day finishing in a time of 7:40:24 to set a new course best and earn his first IRONMAN World Championship victory, breaking Jan Frodeno’s mark of 7:51:13 from 2019. He also ran a 2:36:15 marathon, setting a new run course best that surpassed Patrick Lange’s (DEU) time of 2:39:45 from 2016. Iden was the first male rookie to win the event since the debut of professionals. The top 10 men all finished under 8 hours, showing the growth in competitive long-distance triathlon in a very short time. It wasn’t long ago that breaking the 8-hour mark in the men’s professional IRONMAN World Championship race was the time to strive for. It wasn’t broken until 2018 when Patrick Lange won with a time of 7:52:39.