Ben Kanute Sixth in Strong Showing at Ironman 70.3 World Championships

The Ironman 70.3 World Championships took place on Saturday in St George, Utah, with Rewire Athlete Ben Kanute placing sixth in a strong field that saw Gustav Iden retain his title with a breakaway victory.

Kanute had tackled the course previously this year, and the Arizona-based Athlete was looking to make amends after an uncharacteristically poor performance in early May.

Sadly, the event was without Rewire Athlete Matt Hanson, who after a strong performance in the Collins Cup three weeks prior, sustained a knee injury which prevented him from racing. Having had surgery on the problem joint on the Thursday prior to the event, the 36-year-old is already back in light training.

Temperate waters in the Sand Hollow Reservoir allowed swimming without wetsuits for the 1.2 mile swim, and Kanute started well on his favoured leg, jumping out to a slim two second lead over eventual ninth-placer Sam Appleton at the halfway split.

Despite losing his swim cap, the PTO world number 11 led a pack of five other leaders through the end of the swim in a time of 23:48, with the gap to second place staying at 2 seconds.

Finding his feet immediately out of the water, the Rio Olympian put a gap into the chasing athletes up the ramp, with an efficient transition generating a lead of 8 seconds out of T1 over Olympic champion Kristian Blummenfelt.

A two-time winner of 70.3 events in the past, taking first at Texas in 2018, and California the year after, Kanute held a slender advantage over 70.3 world record-holder Blummenfelt at the first bike split, 5 seconds his lead at the 7.9 mile mark.

Just shy of half an hour into the 56 mile bike leg, the 70.3 World Championship second-placer from 2017 was passed for the first time. After being a minute back at the end of the swim, German Frederic Funk made his way to the front of the field, holding a 5 second advantage at the 13 mile split.

As the cycle leg progressed, a tight lead pack started to churn, with Kanute seen between second and fourth at various points either side of 22 miles, despite passing that split in the lead.

At the 42.4 mile split, Kanute was a victim of Gustav Iden’s desire to push the pace

At the 42.4 mile split, the 2021 Escape from Alcatraz winner was a victim of Gustav Iden’s desire to push the pace. The Norwegian was one of only two men to go under two hours on the bike leg, the other being Dane Magnus Ditlev. With the lead pack slimmed down to Iden, Funk, and Ditlev, Kanute found himself 56 seconds back in seventh position, as part of a large chase group.

Iden further pressed home his advantage, coming off the bike with 2:25:06 elapsed, as Kanute was part of a group of 8 athletes entering T2 around three minutes back of the leader. Splitting 2:03:13, the Illinois-born racer entered T2 with 2:28:09 elapsed.

While the race for the title was over as a contest early on, with the gap to Iden only growing, Kanute began the third leg in the hunt for the other medal positions, placing fourth at the first run split.

Kanute’s time of 3:43:48 was only slightly outside the time that won him silver at the Texas 70.3 earlier in the year

Unfortunately, silverware proved elusive on the day for Kanute. With hail pouring down as the men approached the halfway point of the run leg, and the 28-year-old slipping as low as seventh at points, he passed a fast-fading Ditlev in the closing stages to finish in sixth position. His time of 3:43:48 at the conclusion of the competition was only slightly outside the 3:42:20 that won him silver at the Texas 70.3 event earlier in the year, as he split 1:15:05 for the half marathon distance to finish.

At the head of the field, long-time leader Gustav Iden finished in a time of 3:37:13, with Sam Long making up for a poor swim and T1 with 3:41:09 and second. Daniel Bækkegård again got the better of Kanute after winning their Collins Cup matchup, placing third in a time of 3:42:24.