Katrina Matthews claimed the top step on the pro women’s podium at IRONMAN Florida this weekend, with fellow Brit Ruth Astle coming across the line fourth.
Panama City Beach welcomed athletes from around the world at the weekend, with Matthews and Astle flying the flag for Great Britain in the sunshine state.
The athletes started the race with a 2.4 mile, two-lap swim in the Gulf of Mexico, before heading inland for the 112-mile bike leg on a relatively flat and fast single-lap route.
The end of the bike course brought them back to the coastal transition area from where they set out on the 26.2-mile run that saw them complete two laps of the seaside run, taking in stunning views before darting away from the water to the finish.
Matthews recorded a course record time of 08:40:50. She led out of the swim and, having left T2 also in the lead, completed the race with a 02:58:29 marathon run. Her race time places her third on the list of all-time fastest British women across iron distance, with only Chrissie Wellington and Lucy Charles-Barclay having gone quicker.
Crossing the line in just over nine hours, Astle completed the course in 09:04:03 to claim fourth spot. She recorded the fastest time on the bike in the Female Pro race, with strong swim and run times helping ensure she was way clear of fifth place when she reached the finish.
Britain also had three athletes taking part in the age group races in Florida. John Phillips (12:32:17) finished 3rd in the male 60-64 category, John Lee (12:46:14) crossed the line 42nd in the male 30-34 category and in the male 25-29 category Conor MacDonald (16:19:20) completed the course 72nd.
Following their results, both women earned a spot at the 2021 IRONMAN World Championships in Kona. Astle topped the age group standings in 2019 and will be returning as a pro next year, whilst it will be Matthews’ debut at the iconic event.
After winning the race, Matthews said: “Winning IRONMAN Florida is just the most rewarding achievement! I have trained consistently over the last year to put down a performance across the three disciplines as best I could with the restrictions and challenges that this Covid era has brought.
There has been some very tough mental challenges associated with training professionally for this distance in an uncertain year but supported by The British Army and the Professional Team BMC-Vifit I appreciate I was in the best position possible.
The race unfolded as I had hoped it would, my best-case scenario. I started the swim strongly and came out with two others. I pulled away on the bike initially and then held a gap so I could get onto the marathon run controlling the race. I was aiming for a sub 3 hour marathon and I was able to run consistently to achieve this.
Winning qualifies me for the IRONMAN World Championship on 9 October 2021 and getting the course record fills me with confidence for the future!”
Photo Credit: FinisherPix provided by Katrina Matthews.