It’s hard to pick out just one highlight from an action-packed 2021 season for Kat Matthews, as even the pandemic wasn’t going to stop the long-distance triathlete going from strength-to-strength over the last twelve months.
“It has been a big year,” she said. “My best performance was probably the IRONMAN Tulsa race, the North American Championships, back in May.
“To finish second just five minutes behind Daniela Ryf was a big achievement for me, that gave me a lot of confidence.
“To win the IRONMAN UK as well has to be up there. I won that by a half an hour distance which is obviously always good, but I think looking at the numbers, Tulsa was my best race.”
Another top-class performance from Matthews came in perhaps the most unique event seen in long-distance triathlon, the Collins Cup.
Using a team-based format, the new event pitted athletes from Europe, USA and an International team against each other head-to-head.
Matthews produced a magnificent display in her match with Jocelyn McCarthy (USA) and Carrie Lester (INT), winning by over five minutes.
“That was definitely the best experience of my whole year,” said Matthews. “In terms of racing as part of a team and having a shared goal, that was really cool. Also, as the first event ,it felt really special and exciting.
“The environment and facilities made us feel properly comfortable as professional athletes as well.
“The set-up was superb, so that experience was great.
“I was actually injured just before IRONMAN UK and spent the rest of the summer managing that injury. I was only running 20km a week or so that summer, so to pull it out of the bag at the Collins Cup and run so well was huge.”
The 70.3 World Championships proved to be another chance to shine for the 30-year-old. Matthews finished an impressive fourth, under four minutes behind the winner and her compatriot Lucy Charles-Barclay.
A late twist of fate led to her getting the chance to compete in St George, Utah she explained: “I wasn’t planning to race the 70.3 world champs at all originally.
“It was only because the 2021 IRONMAN World Championship was cancelled due to Covid that made me decide to race there. It was a completely last-minute decision.
“I’d had 10 days off after the Collins Cup and couldn’t really walk. I did a couple of runs before but nothing major so I was really happy with that performance. Fourth was such a great result. My training showed I might be able to get top-five, but I never really believed it.
“I hadn’t even planned or prepared to do it, but it shows training makes a big difference. That has given me huge confidence for next year. If I can do that without the running training, I can aim even higher.”
Balancing being a British Army Physiotherapist Officer as well as her professional triathlon career, she isn’t planning to slow down in 2022.
Matthews added: “May the 7th is the postponed IRONMAN World Championships from last year, moved to St George.
“Everyone is just really happy that the event will be on. It has been moved to St George who have proved they can host during the pandemic.
“Just to take part in that will be special and that is the absolute goal at the moment. We’ve also got the PTO tour events, one in July, the Collins Cup in August and another in September.
“They will all be 100km and that will then lead into Hawaii, hopefully, for the 2022 championships in October.
“I’ve never raced at that level before, so it’s going to be a cool year, with no pressure. I know these things can change quickly, but it’s an exciting time at the moment.”
Find out more about Matthews by visiting her profile on the Professional Triathletes Organisation website below.
Photo credit: Professional Triathletes Organisation