For years she’s found herself chasing for an elusive world win. Three-times she’s been the runner-up in Kona – two times to Daniela Ryf, then when the Swiss star finally faltered, she found herself beaten to the line in Kona by Germany’s Anne Haug. 2021, though, appeared to be Lucy Charles-Barclay’s time. (She’s pictured above winning Ironman 70.3 Elsinore earlier this year.) She spent the early part of the year honing her speed – competing at the British Olympic trials in the 1,500 m, then taking a close second at Super League London. She would then surprise the world with an impressive appearance at WTCS Leeds, proving that she can compete in draft-legal racing with the world’s best, too.
We predicted that this could very well be the former national team swimmer’s time back in July when we put Charles-Barclay on the cover of our July issue – turns out we were bang on.
Start to finish victory
It was hardly a surprise that Charles-Barclay led the women out of the water – but even though she’s always one of the sport’s premier swimmers, no one expected that she would open up a gap of almost 90 seconds on the likes of Brazil’s Pamella Oliveira, Great Britain’s Holly Lawrence, Italy’s Julie Lemmolo, American Taylor Knibb and South Africa’s Jeanni Metzler, who found themselves in the first chase group. It was another minute before we saw two more of the race favourites come out of the water – Ellie Salthouse and Daniela Ryf found themselves 2:28 behind Charles as they hit T2.
Out on the bike Charles-Barclay continued to power away at the front – she continued to open up time on the rest of the women as Knibb moved into second place with Ryf pulling clear of the rest of the women in the field to sit in third through 40 km of the ride. Those two were about three-minutes behind the Brit through the first half of the ride.
By the end of the ride it became apparent that Charles-Barclay would be the one to beat – hitting T2 her lead was up to 4:50 on Knibb and 6:00 on Ryf. It looked like the full-distance effort from a couple of weeks ago at Ironman Switzerland was finally catching up on the defending world champion as she found herself only 30 seconds ahead of a group that included Kat Matthews (GBR), Skye Moench (USA), Emma Pallant (GBR) and Jeanni Metzler (RSA).
Barclay’s dominance of the day continued as she continued to pull away from the rest of the women on the final leg of the race. Instead of losing ground on the sport’s premier runners, she continued to pull away from the rest of the field.
By the halfway point of the run it was clear that no one would touch Charles-Barclay on this day. Ryf was out of the podium hunt by this point, running in seventh. Knibb continued to soldier on in second, but it was Metzler who was the big mover in the field, who was just 42 seconds behind her training partner in third. Knibb continued to hold off Metzler, but by 18 km the South African finally managed to edge ahead of the young Olympian to move into second.
Across the line Charles-Barclay notched an impressive 4:00:20 to take a huge win after a 1:18:48 run. Metzler would hang on for second in 4:08:39, with Knibb just 11 seconds behind in third (4:08:50).
Ryf would show her class by finishing the day in 11th spot.
Canada’s Tamara Jewett would use her amazing run talents to work her way through the women’s field. After coming out of the water in 23rd spot, 5:42 behind the lead, she managed to move up a few spots to come off the bike in 18th, but was 17:47 behind Charles-Barclay as she started the run. Jewett would have the day’s second-fastest run to take 13th in 4:19:16.
You can see the full results here.