Rudy von Berg's win in Texas was one of the best races you'll ever see
After nearly eight hours of racing, 13 seconds is all that separated the top two competitors at Ironman Texas. Rudy von Berg wrote after the race that he thought he would finish third after being passed by Robert Wilkowiecki during the run and sensing a hard-charging Matthew Marquardt behind him. But Von Berg dug deep during the final mile of the marathon, ramped up the pace, and passed Wilkowiecki with 500 meters to the line. The American took the win in one of the closest Ironman finishes ever.
Marquardt, who was also riding a Trek Speed Concept, took third at just 21 seconds behind Von Berg. For context, the closest ever Ironman World Championship ever was 33 seconds between winner Dave Scott and second-place Scott Tinley in 1983. On Saturday, three competitors finished well within that margin.
“This must be one of the most epic finishes in Ironman history,” Von Berg wrote after the race. “Led most of the way, then got passed with six miles to go and stayed within 30 seconds of [Wilkowiecki], but then [Marquardt] started closing dangerously and came within two seconds with 1.5 miles to go. We were all three within 20 seconds. I decided to go all in with smashed legs and pretty much what felt like a sprint all the way to the finish edging them out for the win. They both had really impressive races and I am elated with the win. Ironman Champion of the Americas!”
Von Berg and Wilkowiecki were separated by just six seconds entering the second transition after matching each other with 4:05 bike splits. Von Berg was racing just his fourth full Ironman ever, which made his tenacity all the more impressive. Instead of fading due to the longer distance, the five-time 70.3 Ironman winner never gave Wilkowiecki more than a 30-second gap on the run.
And when it was time to turn on the jets at the end of an unbelievably hard race, Von Berg was the strongest athlete on course.
“Three kilometers is a long way to ‘sprint’ at the end of an Ironman’s marathon though,” Von Berg wrote. “I still didn’t believe I could win. But then as the kiolmeters went, it just all came together beautifully for me.”