Skipper and Matthews take Ironman UK

(Archive photo: Talbot Cox, Instagram)

Great Britain’s Joe Skipper overcame a deficit of over 14 minutes off the bike to run his way a successful defense of his Ironman UK title today, while Katrina Matthews led from start to finish to take the women’s race in Bolton. The field going after a piece of the US$100,000 prize purse (and two men’s and women’s Kona qualifying spots) was small as many international athletes were unable to attend the race due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Laidlow can’t hang on

France’s Sam Laidlow (he was born in the UK but grew up in the French Pyrenees) led the men out of the water in 47:08, with Eliot Smales 16 seconds behind. Skipper lost over six minutes after the swim, hitting T2 in fifth place. Laidlow continued to pull clear of the rest of the men in the fieild – through 100 km he was seven minutes ahead of Smales, about nine minutes up on Chevalier, with Adam Bowden and Skipper about 15 minutes behind.

Off the bike Laidlow was still way out in front – he hit T2 with a lead of 7:28 on Chevalier, 12:17 on Smales and 14:18 on Skipper. Out on the run course Skipper was gaining a bit of time on the leader, but through 20 km Laidlow was still 8:23 ahead of Chevalier and 10: 49 ahead of the defending champ. By 30 km Skipper had moved himself to second, but was still 6:19 behind Laidlow. Over the next six km, though, Laidlow really struggled and going through the 36.6 km timing mat it was Skipper with the lead, a whopping 4:32 ahead. Skipper would eventually run a 2:4145 marathon to take the win in 8:42:59. Laidlow managed to hang on for second, but it was close – he crossed the line in 8:51:41, just seven seconds ahead of Chevalier. Smales would take fourth in 9:01:21, while Adam Bowden took fifth in 9:08:40.

Matthews from start to finish

There were just three women in the all-UK pro field in Bolton and the placings remained the same from the end of the swim to the finish line. Matthews led Nikki Bartlett out of the water by four seconds, with Chantal Cummings 16 seconds back. Off the bike Matthews’ lead was up to 6:09 on Bartlett, with Cummings hitting T2 10:38 down. By the end of the run Matthews had opened up even more time, hitting the finish line in 9:40:01. Bartlett remained in second, crossing the line in 10:0243. Cummings finished in 10:10:33, nailing a Kona qualifying spot as Matthews has already qualified for the Ironman World Championship.;