Jan van Berkel bids farewell as pro athlete with win Ironman Switzerland

Jan van Berkel takes the day at Ironman Switzerland (Archive picture: Instagram Van Berkel / Ironman)

It took a marathon in which a number of athletes swapped lead positions several times, but in the end Jan van Berkel won Ironman Switzerland. It will be a very special feeling for him; the race was Van Berkel’s last race as a professional athlete. He won the race in 8:05:02.

Van Berkel came out of the water in tenth position; when he came out of the water after 54:04 minutes, he was more than two minutes behind Briton Andrew Horsfall-Turner, but favorites such as Andrea Salvisberg, Florin Salvisberg, Maurice Clavel and Ruben Zepuntke were also ahead of him. While a large lead group of six formed at the front during the bike, Van Berkel failed to make up time. After 45 kilometers, he was almost four minutes behind the leader, because in the meantime Zepuntke had taken off on his own and left the other men all behind.

In any case, former cycling pro Zepuntke went full throttle and came back to T2 with a huge lead; he was more than nine minutes ahead of the Salvisberg brothers and also Van Berkel, who had caught up with his two compatriots. They were not the only three men in pursuit, as the chasing group consisted of no less than seven men who had opened the hunt for Zepuntke.

This happened mainly during the marathon, because even though Zepuntke did everything he could to stay ahead and the men behind him were constantly changing positions, the German front-runner saw his lead shrink rapidly. About halfway through, Zepuntke lost his lead to German Leonard Arnold, but Arnold in turn lost his lead to Van Berkel just a few kilometers later. From the 28 kilometer point, Van Berkel then only saw his lead increase, eventually winning in a time of 8:05:02. Arnold eventually finished second in 8:07:14 and Andrea Salvisberg third in 8:10:25.