There was no stopping Leo Bergere and Kat Matthews at the 10th anniversary edition of Ironman 70.3 Lanzarote – the pair took the title in dramatically different styles, overcoming a competitive field to do so. The course here in Lanzarote is renowned as one of the toughest on the Ironman circuit and, while the wind conditions were about as easy as they ever get here in Lanzarote, it was still a tough day. That didn’t seem to dampen the enthusiasm of the energetic crowd or record-sized field of almost 1,100 athletes.
Matthews bikes her way to the win
Leading the way out of the water after the 1.9 km swim was 70.3 rookie Jess Learmonth. The mixed relay gold medalist from Tokyo last year as part of the British team had some company in the form or 2012 Olympian Lucy Buckingham (formerly Hall). The two had a lead of just under three minutes on defending champ and defending Ironman world champion Anne Haug (GER), with Matthews a couple of seconds behind her.
Once out on the bike Learmonth quickly learned the advantage of a tri bike when it comes to 70.3 racing – she was able to pull clear of Buckingham and stay ahead of Haug and Matthews on the initial climb, but once she hit the downhills and long straightaways Matthews quickly ate into her lead and moved to the front. By the end of the bike Matthews had opened up a gap of 3:43 on Learmonth, with Haug hitting T2 5:43 down in third.
While Haug would make up some time during the 21.1 km run, there was no touching Matthews on this day as she cruised to a convincing win in 4:17:46. Haug’s 1:16:04 run split was almost two minutes quicker than Matthews’, but while she moved past Learmonth to take second, she never really challenged for the win, coming across the line in 4:21:23. Learmonth held on through the run to take the final spot on the podium, an impressive finish for her long-distance debut.
Bergere charges to the win
New Zealand’s Kyle Smith is no stranger to top finishes here in Lanzarote – he won this race in 2018, the last year it was held at Club La Santa before it moved to Playa Blanca. The Kiwi led the men out of the water with Florian Angert (GER) and Bergere close behind.
Once out on the bike Smith and France’s Clement Mignon quickly pulled clear of the rest of the men, initially opening a gap of about two minutes on Bergere and Angert. They were able to pare that down to about 90 seconds at the end of the bike after German super-cyclist Boris Stein joined them in the chase.
Out on the run course Smith steadily pulled clear of Mignon, but it was Bergere who was making the big move. Halfway through the run he’d pared the lead down to 47 seconds and, with one lap to go, was just 18 seconds down after overtaking Mignon. With about 4 km to go Bergere made his move and pulled ahead of Smith, running his way to the win after a 1:10:56 half marathon on the challenging Lanzarote course, crossing the line in 3:55:44. Smith hung on for second in 3:56:11, while Angert manage to get past Mignon to round out the podium in 3:57:37.