Katrina Matthews put together an astonishing performance to take silver at the Ironman World Championship in St. George. The BMC athlete used the challenging course to ride to the front of the race early on the bike, settle for 2nd and control that podium spot all the way to the finish line. A magnificent Matthews posted a time of 8:43:49 in her World Championship debut. Daniela Ryf (SUI; 08:34:59) retook her title with defending champion Anne Haug (GER; 8:47:03) rounding out the podium.
The swim went very well for Katrina Matthews. Well inside the second chase group, she exited the water in 9th place, 4 minutes down on the sole leader. In that same chase group, all favorites were packed together.
Early on the bike, Kat pushed the pace to close down the gap towards the front of the race. At the 40k mark, a leading group of 4 athletes was formed, with Kat one of those athletes. Matthews felt strong and decided to take a few turns at the front. That ensured her to break away together with Ryf after about 60k. Just halfway through the bike, the British athlete had to settle for her own pace. She didn’t tag along with Ryf, but made sure her pace was high enough to open up a gap over 3rd place. At the beginning of the toughest part of the course with a lot of climbing, Kat had a solid advantage of 2’30 over Norden in third. That difference didn’t change towards T2. Starting the run in 2nd place, Matthews was trailing Ryf by 7’30. In the first 10k, Kat was able to match the pace of Ryf, but after that point it was clear that 2nd place today would be the highest possible. Although, with defending champion Anne Haug breathing down her neck, Matthews knew it wouldn’t be easy to hold her off. Halfway through the run, Kat had 2 and a half minutes of advantage left as the difference was 6 at the beginning of the run. Haug was able to come as close as a minute and a half, but that’s when Katrina’s engine started running hot again. With 15k to go, the BMC athlete kicked her pace in another gear and started to run away from Haug. The tough course caused some discomfort in the calves for the final kilometers, but Kat’s 2nd place was never endangered again. With a finishing time of 8:43:49, Katrina Matthews crossed the line in 2nd place at the IRONMAN World Championship.
Absolutely honoured and grateful
After the race Kat Matthews reflected on her outstanding performance: “I am speechless. I am just unbelievably grateful for all the people from the last three years. Especially Bob and Ben from the BMC Pro Tri Team for believing in me. I’ve had so much support in the last month. People said that I could do this, so I started to really believe that I can fight for the top spots. Today I am absolutely honored to finish between Daniela and Anne”.
One place shy of another IM WC podium
In the men’s race, Chris Leiferman took home 4th place after a fantastic charge through the field on the bike and run. The American athlete exited the water in 23th place, 4’30 back of the leaders. Together with a lot of strong bikers, Chris started his hunt towards the front. Halfway through the bike, Leiferman was battling for 15th place in the second big chase group. On the challenging second part of the bike course, that group shattered into pieces. The hard and strong finish ensured Chris to rack his bike in 10th place. Knowing it would become a long and hot footrace towards the line, Leiferman didn’t overdo things and used the first part of the marathon to get into his rhythm. At the halfway turn around point, the BMC athlete ran in 8th place, but he had a lot of athletes in front of him to chase down. Chris kept his pace high and moved up another 4 positions in the final 17k. An outstanding sub-8 hour finish time of 7:57:51 saw him cross the line in a sublime 4th place, 3’30 back of the final podium spot.
Choking up on the finish chute
Afterwards an emotional Chris Leiferman looked back at his performance: “From the gun, it was hard. Absolutely hard. It was just pure racing. Being able to hang with Sebi (Kienle), Lionel, Hoffman who has crushing it felt really cool. That plus the dynamics of the race. That makes it extra special to beat two of them. It is an honor, because I really respect those guys. I know it wasn’t Kona and a lot of people weren’t here, but St. George didn’t disappoint. This was a hard, really good World Championship. Coming down the finishing chute, I was choking up. It meant that much to me.”
Unfortunately, Max Neumann, Kristian Høgenhaug and Patrik Nilsson didn't have the day they were hoping and prepared for and had to withdraw from the race.
Chelsea Sodaro takes first podium finish of the season at IM70.3 Mallorca
Prior to all the World Championship action, Chelsea Sodaro toed the line in IM70.3 Mallorca. In preparation for her IM debut in Hamburg in four weeks time, Chelsea was looking for a positive result. The race couldn’t start any better. Sodaro entered T1 as co-leader together with Emma Pallant. On the bike, the BMC athlete claimed 3rd place early on. Together with Reischmann, Sodaro started the run battling for that final podium spot. From the very first kilometers, she opened up a gap towards Reischmann to secure 3rd place and ran it all the way home. With a time of 4:30:55, Chelsea Sodaro climbed on to the 3rd step of the podium with Emma Pallant (GBR; 4:25:36) and Nicola Spirig (SUI; 4:27:49) next to her.
Stuck at around IM paces
Looking back at that 3rd place performance, Chelsea Sodaro saw some positive points towards IM Hamburg.
“I think today was another step forward in my comeback. A comeback that is currently taking longer than I’d like. I swam well as the bike-run combo was just ok. I felt a bit stuck at around IM pace, but maybe that will serve me well in Hamburg”.