Skye Moench wins Ironman Des Moines by 20 (!) minutes

Skye Moench is performing well in her build up to her first-ever Kona

When we last saw Skye Moench, she was taking fourth in her first-ever Ironman World Championship appearance. She’s been ascending up the triathlon ranks for at least a year-and-a-half now, and she has shown no signs of slowing down. This past weekend, she turned in yet another strong performance, winning Ironman North American Championship Des Moines by 20 (!) minutes.

Moench was just one second out of the lead after emerging from her swim. From there, she never looked back, establishing a comfortable lead on her bike — 14:08 at the end of the leg — and extending it even more with a women’s-fastest 3:06:20 marathon time.

“Getting off the bike, I heard pretty quickly I had about a 14 minute gap off the bike, but I definitely didn’t want to rely on that gap for the win,” Moench said after her race. “You never know who could be coming from behind or what could happen during the marathon. The marathon got quite hot and I definitely had a bit of a dark patch with about 10k to go, but I’m proud of how I rallied to finish the last 5k feeling stronger.

“Crossing the line first was special, and it’s always a relief to get to an Ironman finish line!”

Skye training in her native Utah.

Moench’s next big goal will be taking on the 2022 Ironman World Championship in Kona this October. (The delayed 2021 Ironman World Championships were held last May in St. George, Utah.) The trip will be her first ever to the Big Island in Hawaii, where the hallowed race is traditionally held. 

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Moench said. “Between now and then I’ll take a little break and then do some shorter races as part of my Kona prep.”

Moench will hopefully take some time to savor her complete performance in Des Moines. Just how fast did she go? Enough to give herself some time to enjoy the scenery.

“Honestly, I was really enjoying the bike course,” Moench told the Des Moines Register. “I love the movie ‘Twister’ and I was looking around and just thinking, ‘This looks like “Twister.”‘ I actually really want to see a tornado sometime. Just not while I’m on my bike.”

Tim O'Donnell at Challenge Miami 2021.

Tim O'Donnell qualifies for Kona!

Tim O’Donnell took third in Des Moines, 13:19 behind winner Matt Hanson, to qualify for the 2022 Ironman World Championship in Kona. 

O’Donnell’s performance was especially impressive given his unique circumstances. Fifteen months ago, he suffered a heart attack at Clash Miami, and has been carefully and patiently working himself back into shape with a goal of racing competitively and safely at Kona in 2022. In his first full Ironman since 2019, he finished with the event’s best swim split, the second-fastest bike split and the fifth-fastest run split.

“After last year’s heart attack I didn’t know if I’d ever race again,” O’Donnell said after the race. “It’s been a tough road back to racing, but earning a podium at the Ironman North American Championship is a great indication that I’m on the right track back! More importantly I’m so excited to have qualified for the World Championship this October in Kona. The lava fields of Kona and that race hold a special place in my heart.”

O’Donnell’s campaign to race at Kona has become one of the most fascinating subplots of this year’s triathlon season. There’s no question he’s one of the most determined athletes in the world.