Exmouth athlete wins world’s first Half Ironman contested since lockdown

PUBLISHED: 09:41 09 October 2020 | UPDATED: 12:59 11 October 2020

Katrina Matthews winning the 2020 Ironman 70.3 Tallinn triathlon in Estonia. Picture: IAN BAKER

Katrina Matthews winning the 2020 Ironman 70.3 Tallinn triathlon in Estonia. Picture: IAN BAKER

Ian Baker Photography

An army physiotherapist from Exmouth, the reigning European triathlon champion, won the world’s very first Half Ironman distance triathlon to be raced since lockdown and went on to win the major domestic triathlon of the season, raced in Nottingham.

Katrina Matthews before the Outlaw X swim, complete with wet suit and mask. Picture: @KMTri_CoachingKatrina Matthews before the Outlaw X swim, complete with wet suit and mask. Picture: @KMTri_Coaching

Katrina Matthews, who is 29 and a Physiotherapist Officer in the Army, is in her first full year as a professional elite triathlete after making the podium in all her middle-distance races last year.

She won the 2019 European Triathlon Championships (Middle Distance) in Romania, representing Great Britain for the first time.

And in Western Australia in December, at the start of her honeymoon, in her first full Ironman race, she recorded a time of 8:53 – placing her 10th in the debut all time world standings.

In between she won Exmouth’s triathlon last September: great to race ‘at home’. Katrina joined one of the top professional triathlon teams in January: BMC-Vifit, and after a team training camp in Lanzarote for much of January, she has been training up to 25 hours a week, though alone since late March, with much of her cycling on the turbo trainer. Swimming training has been restricted to indoor functional and strength exercises and one session in a ‘continuous pool’ until in July she could train in a local lake and in the sea. That hard work paid off last month in the first Half Ironman distance triathlon to be raced since lockdown.

Katrina Matthews in GBR trisuit during the cycling element of the Outlaw Triathlon. Picture: @KMTri_CoachingKatrina Matthews in GBR trisuit during the cycling element of the Outlaw Triathlon. Picture: @KMTri_Coaching

In Tallinn (Estonia) she won with an impressive margin over the chasing Dane – a top 10 professional - with an Estonian Olympian triathlete in third.

She exited the water after the one-mile swim with several others, battled through a demanding 56-mile cycle to record the fastest time and take a minute’s lead into the run, after three hours racing.

A swift 1:20 half marathon run saw her break the tape with an impressive lead, to win her first Half Ironman and earn a start slot in the 2021 World Championships (Utah, USA). Two weeks later in Nottingham she won the ‘Outlaw X’ triathlon: the top UK domestic race of the year.

Olympian Lucy Hall was well in the lead after the swim but in cold and windy conditions, Katrina’s time trialling prowess reined her in. Neck-a-neck with another top British triathlete Nicky Bartlett they entered the transition from cycle to run together.

Katrina Matthews riding her BMC Time Machine to win Ironman 70.3 Tallinn. Picture: @KMTri_CoachingKatrina Matthews riding her BMC Time Machine to win Ironman 70.3 Tallinn. Picture: @KMTri_Coaching

In the half marathon, on surfaces varying between tarmac, gravel and grass, Katrina proved the stronger runner and won by a small margin in a record-breaking time.

Being part of a sponsored team, she has been given a BMC ‘Time Machine’ TT bike to train and race on.

In August, in her first competitive road time trial she won the British national 100-mile time trial averaging over 25mph for nearly four hours; and it wasn’t a flat course.

Her team also provides her Orca wetsuit and Uvex helmet, visor and glasses.

Her nutrition sponsor is Precision Hydration who work with elite athletes to help them understand and manage their personal hydration needs.

Coached by Damion Littlewood at Tri-1st Coaching she is training almost full time - she’s on the Army’s Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme - with three sports in which to excel in she needs to.

A favourite session is a ‘brick’: a hard cycle around Devon’s roads immediately followed by a speedy run at race pace around Exmouth. Her targets for later this year are Ironman Portugal next month and in December, if she gets a starting place, Challenge Daytona (Florida, USA): the de facto World Championships of 2020 where the best in the world will be fighting it out: it’s a million dollar prize purse; half each for women and men.


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