For most triathletes at the Ironman World Championships a top 10 finish in your age group is quite an accomplishment, but for Karen Smith, who has won her age group and finished 3rd ( as well as other top ten finishes) at these championships, anything less than a podium this year was always going to be below her expectations.
Going into the race Karen looked lean and well prepared and had a quiet confidence and a podium place looked well in her grasp.
Karen produced her fastest swim in these championships with a 1 hr 5 min 56 sec clocking for the 4km . She then kept pace with the leading group of cyclists in her 50-54 age group to finish the bike in again her fastest time in this event, 5 hrs 18 mins 56 secs, and in 3rd place. Feeling strong going into the run she was confident of at least a top 3 finish but she could not have anticipated the stomach troubles that beset her after the first few kilometers of the run which got progressively worse and in the end left her unable to hold down nutrition and forced her to walk. Karen’s final run time of 4 hrs 29 mins 12 secs was well below her expected time of between 3 hrs 30 mins to 3 hrs 40 mins which would have given her 2nd or 3rd place on the day. Her finishing time of 11 01 43 was good enough for 7th place out of 69 competitors in her age group but left Karen wondering what might have been.
I wouldn’t surprised if Karen is at the starting line next year.