Great Britain’s Joe Skipper didn’t miss the memo that Ironman Chattanooga was supposed to be the Lionel Sanders vs Sam Long showdown – he just chose to ignore that and blast his way through a speedy bike and run to take the title for his own ahead of Sanders. Canada’s Cody Beals was very much in the picture for much of the race, eventually taking fourth. Canadian-born Skye Moench (yes, we’re going to ride that as much as we can north of the border) took the women’s title, with Canada’s Mel McQuaid also nailing a spot on the podium.
Skipper just too fast on the bike and run
Two years ago Joe Skipper was on a tear at Ironman races, setting the course record at Ironman Florida, then doing that again in early 2020 at Ironman New Zealand. He’s rounding back to that kind of form again, it would appear thanks to his impressive race in Tennessee today.
American Ben Hoffman led out of the water in a speedy 42 minutes (it’s a down-river swim), but it was Cody Beals, who was just behind the American out of the water, who blasted to the front early in the bike, seemingly keen to make it clear that Sanders and Long weren’t the only contenders in the race, too. Sanders, Long and Skipper were all in the chase group behind the swim leaders about 1:20 back, and by the halfway point of the ride Skipper had moved to the front along with Long. Skipper pulled clear of the American over the last half of the ride, hitting T2 with a lead of a minute on Long and 6:27 on Sanders, with Beals just over a minute behind his countryman and Hoffman another 90 seconds back.
Long would quickly drop back and then out of the race, while Sanders put together a solid run to solidify his runner-up position. There was no touching Skipper, who ran a 2:44:06 marathon to take the win in 7:46:18. Sanders ran 2:45:59 to finish in 7:54:46, with Hoffman running 2:46:10 to get past Beals for third (7:57:50). Beals was just short of the sub-8 hour mark – he ran a 2:49:59 marathon to finish fourth in 8:00:06.
Other pro Canadian men in the field included Elliot Holtham, who took eighth in 8:31:13 and Nick Cosman, who was 14th in 9:00:51.
McQuaid takes third
Canada’s Rach McBride was first out of the water in 44:31, ahead of Moench by a couple of seconds and a minute up on McQuaid and American Katie Morales.
From there the race became the Skye Moench show as she steadily rode and ran away from the rest of the field. By the end of the 116-mile bike ride Moench was 14:44 ahead of McQuaid, with American Kelly Fillnow another nine minutes back.
On the run Moench ran a solid 3:01 to open up more time on the rest of the field, finishing in 8:34:07 and over 26 minutes ahead of the next woman. Spain’s Gurutze Frades Larralde also ran a 3:01 marathon (she was 38 seconds slower than the champion) to move herself to second in 9:00:38. McQuaid ran a 3:16:18 marathon to hang on for the final spot on the podium, finishing in 9:04:21. Another Canadian, Jen Annett, would take fifth in 9:23:31, while McBride would struggle through the run and end up eighth in 10:10:50.