It’s hard to believe that just over a year ago Kat Matthews was recovering from being hit by a car while training in Texas. The British star’s stellar year that included a runner-up finish at the Ironman World Championship in St. George and a dramatic win at the Sub8 project where she clocked a 7:31:54 for the full distance (albeit with assistance) came to a dramatic end, but it wasn’t long before she was back on a podium.
She started 2023 off with a third-place finish at Ironman 70.3 Oceanside, then won Ironman Texas and took second at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship behind Taylor Knibb, but had a disappointing day in Kona, eventually pulling out of the race.
“I’m disgusted, embarrassed but overwhelmingly sad by my race performance/DNF,” she wrote on Instagram after her tough day in Kona. “I’ve no definitive explanation. I do know it was not the heart/brain/psychological. Something was not right with me physically. I was in an excellent position, I remember thinking an hour into the bike “OK, totally within myself” (av power and HR, no signs of overdoing it), very prepared for the 1hr30-2hr30 section to the turnaround (I’d ridden 10 times already!). Then literally like a switch went and I struggled to make decisions. I was actually pleading with the aid station to give me water, I was unable to control my bike in the bars, my power halved for the same HR. I thought I could try and fight through it, “turn it around” but it just stayed the same.”
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Matthews bounced back in style earlier today, though, with a huge win at Ironman 70.3 Bahrain. After finishing the swim almost three minutes behind 2012 Olympian Lucy Buckingham, Matthews continued to lose time, finishing the bike in fifth place, 5:32 behind her countrywoman, with fellow pre-race favourites Ellie Salthouse (AUS) 28 seconds ahead and Kiwi Amelia Watkinson four seconds behind at the end of the bike.
Matthews charged through the run and had dropped the deficit to 1:34 by the halfway point of the half-marathon, with Watkinson 2:22 behind Buckingham. Hanging gamely on to second place was Germany’s Caroline Pohle, who had trailed Buckingham by 23 seconds after the swim and managed to stay within two minutes of the Brit at the end of the bike.
According to Buckingham’s BMC Pro Tri team, she was hit by a car on the bike, which would slow her down and eventually fade to seventh. (We’ll have more on that as we get further details.)
After an excellent swim-bike combo, @Lucy_Tri was looking for a top result going into the run. Unfortunately, a crash with a car made her struggle with her hip. Still battling through, she kept going and came home in 7th place #IM703Bahrain
— BMC Pro Triathlon Team p/b 2XU (@BMCProTri) December 8, 2023
Matthews continued to charge ahead and, with five km to go, had taken the lead. Pohle was still hanging on to second, but Watkinson was able to overtake the German with four km to go and was able to gain a few seconds on Matthews over the final few km of running. In the end, though, it was Matthews’ day as she posted a 1:19:08 half-marathon to take the win in 3:59:07. Fellow Bahrain Victorious 13 team member Watkinson (3:59:43) would finish 36 seconds later, with Pohle rounding out the podium in 4:00:17. Salthouse would finish fourth in 4:00:50, while Swede Anna Bergsten took fourth in 4:01:03.