At the start of the year, Fenella Langridge had never raced at an IRONMAN World Championships. With two shots at the IMWC in 2022, however, this season provided double the chance for the Brit to put her name on the map up against a championship calibre field.
Put her name on the map she did and now, with the season coming to a close, the 30-year old Brit can look back on a year that has seen her finish in the top 10 at an IMWC not once, but twice, as she established herself as one of the strongest championship racers on the women’s long course scene.
We were fortunate enough to speak with the 2022 Challenge Family World Bonus winner about her breakthrough season, her plans for next year and the outstanding depth of talent that can currently be found amongst British female triathletes.
After winning Challenge Salou in April, Langridge set the precedent for the rest of her season with gutsy performance in St George to take eighth at her first ever IRONMAN World Championships in May.
Whilst the Brit believed the final position “didn’t exactly reflect how I did”, her prowess in the water, plus strength across the demanding bike course made most triathlon fans sit up and take note.
Alongside the likes of Kat Matthews, Ruth Astle and Laura Siddall, Langridge’s performance in Utah put her in position to be part of the contingent of Brits who could really challenge for the podium come Kona in October.
Following St George, Langridge’s season went from strength to strength, as she took an impressive second at Challenge Roth behind Anne Haug in a performance that she described as “my most epic and memorable race”, coming home in 8:31:41 in Germany.
That display, coupled with her win at Challenge Salou and podium at Challenge Mallorca Peguera, meant Langridge finished the season at the top of the Challenge Family World Bonus for 2022, ahead of the likes of Haug and Emma Pallant-Browne.
After two difficult days on the PTO Tour in Edmonton and Dallas, where Langridge dropped out due to health concerns, the Brit bounced back to produce an incredible race in October on the Big Island, as she took sixth in Kona to record her second IMWC top 10 of the season.
On Kona, Langridge said “going in to the race, not knowing what to expect, then racing and having it surpass all expectations was amazing”, with the best part being the knowledge that “I definitely know I can go back and do even better”.
Improving on her fifth place is something Langridge is confident in, as she shared that the course profile and race dynamics on the Big Island have allowed her to set her sights on “finishing on the podium or winning in Kona over the next one to three years”.
Doubling down on strengths in 2023
Whilst her IRONMAN racing was great this season, Langridge admitted that “my 70.3’s haven’t been so great”, with the DNF’s at the PTO Tour races on the opposite side of the performance scale to the kind of form that has seen her win IRONMAN 70.3’s in Barcelona and Edinburgh in the past.
Langridge explained: “I haven’t nailed the 70.3 distance or 100k distance as well as I could but I would have to go all in to focus on it which would detract from my IRONMAN performance.”
The Brit believes that “the crossover between 70.3 and IRONMAN is very limited” and whilst she would be confident in finishing in the “top six at a 70.3 or 100km race”, states that “I would have to really sharpen my tools to get on to the podium or to win”.
Looking ahead to 2023, she offered a tentative idea of her race schedule, hinting that although all the races haven’t yet been announced she is “leaning towards Kona and the IMWC being the main focus of the year” after such a strong showing on the Big Island in 2022.
Whatever she eventually decides on, Langridge believes that her strength in the water plays out well in the championship events, as “the main packs that form in the swim” allow for a different type of race strategy, one that may see her claim her first World Championship podium spot in 2023.
Pride of Britain
Across both the short course and long course events, the British women have been tearing up the competition in 2022, with the likes of Georgia Taylor-Brown, Emma Pallant-Browne, Lucy Charles-Barclay and Kat Matthews all podiuming at World Championships in 2022.
On being part of such a strong contingent of British women, Langridge was full of praise for her fellow countrywomen, stating that “we are all super competitive, strong and gritty and I wouldn’t want it any other way”.
She went on to say that her only regret was that the British women couldn’t compete for the UK in the Collins Cup, where with six currently sitting in the Top 20 of the PTO World Rankings, with Langridge at #13, you would have to think they could very likely challenge for the team title.
Over the winter, Langridge stated that the standard of British women will prove to be ample motivation in training, stating: “We definitely spur each other on and when I’m in a dark moment in training I just think of all the other girls here in the UK doing the same thing.”
With clear ambitions for a place on the podium at the IMWC next year, it’s looking like there will be plenty of exciting times ahead for Fenella Langridge.