Karen Smith had to draw on all of her experience yesterday as she battled pain and tough conditions to record an impressive 4th place finish in the female 50-54 age group at the Ironman World Championships in Kona yesterday (Saturday 12th October).
After an excellent swim in rolling waves Karen exited the water 2nd in her age group in 1:06:48 in a tightly bunched field. German Beate Goertz, the strong favorite in this age group, wasted no time in distancing herself from the competition as she averaged an incredible 22.33 miles per hour for the 180km bike despite climbing temperatures and the usual tough headwinds in the 20 miles before the turn back to Kona. Karen quickly lost places on the bike after two stops to check on noise from her bike but on the return portion she moved her way back up into contention finishing with a 5:37:19 time going into the run.
However, over the past couple of years Karen has been suffering with a foot condition that causes swelling and pinching of the nerves and the problem was aggravated on the bike resulting in a long T2 to ice her feet. Despite the pain Karen began to work her up the field from 6th into 4th but was just unable to reel in former Canadian professional Y Timewell who finished in 10hrs 40 mins 45 secs with Karen just 2 minutes back in 10 :42;54 getting to within 55 secs of Timewell despite suffering cramps later on the run. Goerta posted an extraordinary 9 hr 46 mins 02 secs, the 9th fastest female amateur time (!!!!) to take the age group win.
Karen posted a 3;47:27 marathon. Altogether a gutsy performance.
The overall women’s winner was Germany’s Anne Haug who blitzed the run course to catch Lucy Charles, who recorded another 2nd place finish after repassing Australian Sarah Crowley who faded late in the race but hung on for 3rd.
Jan Frodeno after suffering muscle problems two years ago and sitting out last year after a stress fracture recorded his 3rd overall mens victory as the anticipated challenge from the 2017 and 2018 winner and course record holder Patrick Lange and first time IM World Champ participant Alistair Brownlee did not materialise. Lange pulled out early on the bike due to developing a fever overnight and Brownlee faded to 21st in the stiffling Kona heat that took its toll on a number of the top men including Canada’s Lionel Sanders and Scotland’s David MacNamee who were expecting to be challenging for a podium spot. The USA’s Tim O’Donnell was a popular if unexpected 2nd after battling injuries for a couple of years with the consistent Sebastien Kienle in 3rd.