Kat Matthews is definitely back at the very highest level: after a tremendously long recovery period after a horror crash, she has just finally taken another victory to her name. A particularly nice victory too, because among a magnificent field of strong women, Matthews just won Ironman 70.3 Bahrain.
It was Britain’s Lucy Buckingham who, not entirely surprisingly, came out of the water first: 24:01 minutes she needed for her swim and at that point she was followed at 23 seconds by Caroline Pohle and at 45 seconds by Anne Holm. The rest of the women were at least more than a minute behind and Matthews, who came out of the water sixth, was already 2:46 minutes behind.
Actually, for a long time it looked like Buckingham would win the race; on the bike she completely followed her own plan and in ninety kilometers her lead over Pohle, who in turn remained second throughout, grew to 1:40 minute. Behind them followed Sif Madsen (+2:37), Holm (+4:04) and Ellie Salthouse (+5:04), among others. Matthews had also lost considerable time, was still sixth and started the half marathon with a 5:32 minute gap. On paper, therefore, Matthews’ chances of still winning seemed very small.
Nothing could be further from the truth, however, because while Buckingham had a very tough run and would eventually fall off the podium (According to her team BMC, she would have been hit by a car during the bike and therefore suffered too much pain in her hip while running, ed.), Matthews quickly began an impressive race to catch up. She kept advancing to the front and by the halfway point she was already in third place and her gap was down to a minute and a half. Just four kilometers later, she had already passed both Pohle and Buckingham and Matthews’ lead had grown to 30 seconds.
Meanwhile, Amelia Watkinson was also on a strong run, as she started the half marathon in sixth position and advanced to second place in the closing stages. However, she could not prevent Matthews from claiming victory in a time of 3:59:07. Watkinson was second in 3:59:43 and Pohle third in 4:00:17.