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Naeth nails Ironman Chattanooga

Angela Naeth

After a crash-filled season that saw her break her wrist in May, then have to pull out of Ironman Canada in July thanks to another tumble during the race, Angela Naeth bounced back with a win at Ironman Chattanooga yesterday.

The win qualifies the B.C. native for next year’s Ironman World Championship. Last year Naeth, who was then recovering from Lyme disease, battled through the season to earn enough qualifying points for Kona, only getting her spot after two athletes were disqualified at Ironman Maastricht for cutting the swim course. (Ironically, Els Visser, the winner of Ironman Maastricht last year, appealed her disqualification and it was overturned by the Dutch courts in June.)

Angela Naeth at the Ironman World Championship 2018. Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

Naeth proved that her qualification was not a fluke and well-deserved with a brilliant eighth-place finish on the Big Island, but her struggles continued this year when she broke her wrist in a bike crash in May. After one surgery she returned to racing in record time and attempted Ironman Boulder, but would end up pulling out of the race. She then went through another surgery and bounced back almost as quickly to start at Ironman Canada, where she crashed on the bike once again and had to pull out.

Naeth tried one more time to qualify for Kona, competing at Ironman Copenhagen, but finished fourth. With Ironman moving from a points-based qualifying system to one that requires either a win or a top finish at an Ironman event to earn a starting spot in Kona, Naeth wasn’t able to earn a spot for this year’s race.

That won’t be the case next year, though, as Naeth’s impressive win in Chattanooga earns her a spot in the 2020 field. She led the contenders out of the water by almost two minutes before blasting away on the bike – her 5:00:49 split was almost nine-minutes faster than the next-fastest woman, the Netherlands’ Lenny Ramsey.

Naeth ran fast enough to hold off American Lisa Robers, who put together a blistering 3:09:52 run split on the tough Chattanooga marathon course, just three minutes slower than men’s champion Sam Long went. Ramsey rounded out the women’s podium.

Long, who also won Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga in May, also dominated the bike to take the men’s title. His 4:23:50 split was just under 10 minutes faster than fellow American Matt Russell went for the 180 km bike course. Russell, who was second in Chattanooga last year before putting together an impressive sixth-place finish on the Big Island, will no-doubt hope the race will serve as a similar tune-up. The all-American podium was completed by Nicholas Chase.

Top five professional women’s results:

1. Angela Naeth CAN 00:51:24 05:00:49 03:20:15 09:18:45
2. Lisa Roberts USA 00:53:53 05:12:57 03:09:52 09:22:31
3. Lenny Ramsey NLD 00:53:49 05:09:43 03:16:02 09:27:16
4. Kelly Fillnow USA 00:54:01 05:19:25 03:30:09 09:50:22
5. Kaitlin Allen USA 00:57:35 05:29:52 03:36:35 10:09:55

Top five professional men’s results:

1. Sam Long USA 00:47:42 04:23:50 03:06:24 08:22:21
2. Matt Russell USA 00:47:49 04:33:10 03:05:34 08:31:49
3. Nicholas Chase USA 00:44:18 04:35:59 03:23:11 08:49:30
4. Patrick Brady USA 00:49:37 04:47:28 03:11:40 08:54:52
5. Clay Emge USA 00:47:55 04:48:18 03:24:12 09:07:16