Britain’s Lucy Charles-Barclay secured her first Ironman 70.3 World Championship title with a dominant gun-to-tape performance in St. George, Utah.
Following the postponement of Kona, the women’s field seemed even more stacked than the men’s race with Lucy Charles-Barclay (PTO #4) one of the strong favourites alongside five-time 70.3 world champ Daniela Ryf (PTO #1).
There were a whole host of other big names with a shot at the title including South Africa’s Jeanni Metzler (PTO #11), US Olympic mixed-relay silver medallist Taylor Knibb and the UK trio of Kat Matthews (PTO #9), Emma Pallant-Browne (PTO #7) and 2016 world champ Holly Lawrence (PTO #5).
Charles-Barclay Charges To The Win
Before the race, there was speculation that Taylor Knibb – a proven swimmer on the World Triathlon circuit – might hold onto the toes of Lucy Charles-Barclay in the water. That proved not to be the case as the British super swimmer cruised ahead to a 1:26 lead over the 1.9km course, holding an average pace of 1:24/100m.
Charles-Barclay was out of sight by the time Knibb came in as part of that second group, which also contained Jeanni Metzler and Holly Lawrence, but the American quickly broke away from the others despite riding a road bike. Behind, defending champ Daniela Ryf was 2:37 behind Charles-Barclay coming out the water.
Ryf began the hunt that was expected to end with pole position, but despite getting Knibb in sight by the bike’s halfway point, the Swiss Miss then fell off the pace, losing time to those ahead and behind
At the front, there was no stopping Charles-Barclay, who continued to demolish every rise and hammer every descent, her lead growing with every passing kilometre. Reaching T2 with the day’s fastest bike split of 2:14:58, the Brit had a five-minute lead as she strode determinedly onto the run.
Knibb maintained over a minute’s gap on Ryf, with the likes of Katrina Matthews, Skye Moench, Jeanni Metzler and Emma Pallant-Browne closing the gap at the start of the run.
As on the bike, Charles-Barclay’s lead continued to bloom, the three-time Kona runner-up showing her true potential on the final discipline. Meanwhile, Metzler was in fine form and running close to the leader’s pace in pursuit of her training partner Knibb. The pass finally came with around 3km to go as the South African storm the downhills.
Charles-Barclay was in another class, however, completing the trio of the day’s fastest splits with a 1:18:47 half marathon to cross the line in 4:00:19 over eight minutes clear of Metzler while Knibb came in just 11 seconds later.
Proving herself more than ‘just’ and Ironman athlete, Kat Matthews continued her strong bike-run race to claim fourth with Emma-Pallant Brown the third and final Brit in the top five.