Set in scenic Rapperswil-Jona, Ironman 70.3 Switzerland boasts a scenic swim in crystal clear Upper Lake Zurich, a hilly 2-loop bike course that rolls through the foothills of the Alps, and a run that takes competitors first past medieval castles before finishing in more modern fashion between a zoo and an ice hockey rink.
With the event also serving as a national championship race and a modest total prize purse of $15,000, the start line would be a popular place for the European pro crowd. Pre-race favorites included “former wannabe ice hockey and tennis player”- turned-9-time-IM-champion Ronnie Schildknecht of Switzerland, while in the women’s field, all eyes were on defending champion Daniela Ryf, who is coming off a recent win at Ironman 70.3 Mallorca.
First out of the water for the men was Swiss pro Manuel Kueng in 22:08, with Martin Bader right on his heels. Kueng continued his lead into the bike, up 2:30 through 50k on a chase pack that included Jan van Berkel, Ronnie Schildknecht, Mike Aigroz and and Ruedi Wild, with Bader being dropped by an early attack from the chase group of Swedes. Kueng ultimately came off the bike with a gap of 2:44 in a split of 2:08:47. But Kueng was far from safe – Ruedi Wild took off like a hungry wildebeest, bringing himself within 30 seconds of Kueng 7.5k into the run.
Wild ultimately made the pass, gaining 41 seconds over Kueng by the 14k mark. Running in 3rd place was Jan van Berkel, 1:40 back. Wild held on for the final push to the finish, bringing it home to win in a final time of 3:51:27. Wild was followed within the next two minutes by Kueng and Van Berkel, grabbing 2nd and 3rd place. Schildknecht, finishing in 4th, graciously replied to TRS, stating “Was missing back end power but good to bounce back after IM Texas. No surprises with strong Wild, Küng and Van Berkel.”
|Jan Van Berkel||23:53||2:09:50||1:16:55||3:53:38|
Daniela Ryf led the women with a 24:00 swim split, already gapping her next two competitors, Regula Rohrbach and Sonja Tajsich, by a solid 4 minutes and catching approximately half of the pro men’s field in the process. Ryf wasted no time on the bike, hopping on merely 2 minutes after the men in 12th place overall, and extending her lead to 6:29 through 10k. Tajisch, Nicole Woysch, and Rohrbach stayed together in 2nd – 4th.
After coming off the bike in 2:17:17, Ryf continued to hammer, starting the run 16 minutes up on Tajisch and reportedly asking “How far are the boys?” at the 10k run mark. In the end, Ryf blew away the rest of the women’s field by nearly 20 minutes and finished an impressive 14th overall – proving herself a formidable competitor to the pro men as well.