What. A. Weekend!
Team USA elites gave triathlon fans reason to celebrate over the weekend as we collected not one, not two... but THREE MAJOR PODIUMS OVER THE WEEKEND!
The excitement level could not be higher as we all got to witness some triathlon greatness in St. George, Utah at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships and then in Neom, Saudi Arabia at the Grand Finale of the 2022 Super League Championship Series!
Let's recap the action, relive the thrilling moments and feel inspired by some of the best in the sport!
LET'S DO THIS!
2022 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship
St. George, Utah
The red rocks of St. George once again called upon the best of the best in longer-distance triathlon to take on the desert and compete for the title of IRONMAN World Champion. For many, it felt like deja vu to be back in Utah as the full-distance, 140.6-mile IRONMAN World Championship was held back in May of this year to crown the official 2021 Champions since the previous race was cancelled due to the pandemic.
However, this weekend the World Championship focused on crowning the 70.3-mile athletes!
The pro women were first to race, lining up on Friday, October 28. To say that the roster was stacked would be an understatement. Experience showed with many veterans toeing the line with a magnitude of podium accolades that distance, such as USA's Jackie Hering, who has won a 70.3 race six times!
The 2021 reigning champion, Great Britain's Lucy Charles-Barclay was also in attendance and looking to reclaim her title.
However, despite the massive veteran talent, some newer faces were also lining up to showcase some fresh talent. Here is where we cue in USA's Taylor Knibb.
Knibb just entered the 70.3 distance last year and qualified for the World Championships in 2021, where she placed third overall. This year, we have seen Knibb have a spectacular year across the board after taking the early part of the season off to recover from some past injuries.
She entered the circuit and just nearly missed taking the gold at the Collins PTO cup back in September, finishing second and then followed it up by earning the bronze at the World Triathlon level in the World Triathlon Championship Series in Cagliari, Italy earlier this month.
So going into Utah, she had some podium success and was ready to capitalize on that.
Once the race began, some leadership formed instantly out of the gate in the water. A threesome, which included Charles-Barclay, Lotte Wilms of the Netherlands and Knibb moved ahead in the 1.2-mile swim and exited into T1 just four seconds apart from one another.
Heading onto the bike, this became the danger zone for the rest of the field against Knibb. For those who have watched her, you know she slays on the bike and it took her no time to prove her strength in the discipline. She moved into the leader position within the first mile, despite cold temperatures out on the course.
There was no stopping her, even the powers of Olympic Champion Flora Duffy of Bermuda could not catch up to Knibb and she secured an over 6-minute lead going into T2. She clocked an unbelievably fast bike split of 2:14:41 for the 56-mile course.
In and out of T2 in a flash, Knibb is out on the run with a commanding lead!— Triathlete Magazine (@TriathleteMag) October 28, 2022
Catch the thrilling finish in Utah for free! ➡️ https://t.co/LsfEO7VzQi #IM703WC2022 | @Outside_Watch pic.twitter.com/WMO3KIi0W3
From there it was just a matter of making it into the finish line as Knibb made it out onto the run course and was uncontested... although the fact that she was putting up a 5:58 minute per mile pace definitely helped in the matter.
Knibb carried it home and secured the win with a time of 4:03:20. at 24 years old, she became the youngest female to ever win the 70.3 World Championship title and the first U.S. woman to win the title since 2008. She also is just the second U.S. female to win the title in history.
The other U.S. women did phenomenally with the results being:
7. Jackie Hering, 4:15:05
17. Sonja Catano, 4:27:05
25. Grace Alexander, 4:34:45
The men's race then took place Saturday and the play out was not so dominating by one athlete as it was with Knibb's performance.
The U.S. men have proven to be some of the strongest in the water and that was no different in the men's race.
Ben Kanute and Marc Dubrick, pulled ahead just behind Aussie Aaron Royle during the 1.2-mile swim. However, going into T1, the lead was less than a minute and behind them was a pack of about 20 men, which also included USA's Eric Lagerstrom and Jason West. While at the World Tri level, busy transitions areas of sort of the norm, you don't see that as often in middle or long-distance racing, so the chaos was fun to witness!
This undoubtedly took Long out of the running, who at that point in time had worked his way from about 40th to 8th place.
Nowary's Kristian Blummenfelt took charge out front, leading a small pack, which included Kanute. While many tried to make a move, no breakaway attempts were successful and they ultimately rode into T2 together. Which meant that the World Title would come down to the run.
Blummenfelt, wanted to go for gold early and blasted out of the transition zone. However, despite a nearly five-minute/mile pace, Kanute was right on his heels.
Kanute took turns taking the lead, putting down the hammer and pushing a 4:55-minute/mile pace hoping to drop Blummenfelt. But he didn't take the bait and Kanute held it out for the next eight miles.
It was with about three miles to go that Blummenfelt ultimately made his final move and passed Kanute. He claimed the victory, clocking a time of 3:37:12, with Kanute earning the silver coming in less than a minute behind at 3:38:00.
Other U.S. men finishing times were:
12. Matt Hanson, 3:48:13
19. Sam Long, 3:52:14
22. Marc Dubrick, 3:52:48
Super League Championship Series 2022 Grand Finale
Neom, Saudi Arabia
And while the U.S. were collecting podiums over in Utah, another famous Taylor was doing the same thing across the world in Saudi Arabia. The end of the 2022 Championship Series of Super League came to a close in Neom over the weekend.
Hitting a total of five races all across the globe, testing out different formats that test speed, endurance and versatility, it all came down to the end to crown the overall winners.
Taylor Spivey has been a knockout from the very start of the series. She has made the podium in every single event, even winning in Malibu. So entering the weekend, she was in full contention to take it all as she was tied for first-place in the overall rankings.
Neom's format was called the Enduro.
"The Enduro is a non-stop burst of nine back-to-back triathlon disciplines without any breaks. Swim-bike-run repeated continuously three times in a row. There are two Short Chutes up for grabs – to be taken on the third and final run. Any athlete who falls more than 90 seconds behind the leader will be eliminated."
While Spivey ended the day in fourth place, her first time off the podium. It still gave her enough points to ultimately take second overall in the Series!