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Kat Matthews left searching for answers after IRONMAN World Championship DNF at Kona

Kat Matthews shares her thoughts following a tough day out at the IRONMAN World Championship.

Staff Reporter
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Kat Matthews has candidly shared her thoughts on social media in the aftermath of the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, where the 32-year-old British star was left bitterly disappointed after withdrawing from the race.

The PTO World #5, who at the end of August had finished a terrific second at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship and had high hopes for her debut in Kona, had no immediate answer as to why her race didn’t go to plan.

Matthews recalls being unable to gather her thoughts on the bike after a “switch went”, and that led to her race ending early. Admitting the result wasn’t “good enough”, the Brit has vowed to get to the bottom of exactly what went wrong.

Kat Matthews on Kona

Not holding back on her disappointment, Matthews took to social media to express her sadness with the result, but first offered her congratulations to the rest of the competitors in Kona, in particular the professional women’s field.

Kat Matthews Oceanside Swim 2023 Photo credit: Donald Miralle for IRONMAN
[Photo credit: Donald Miralle for IRONMAN]

“Congratulations to all the women who finished the World Champs race here in Kona. Special mentions to the Women’s pro field, I’m so humbled and full of respect. 

“I’m disgusted, embarrassed, but overwhelmingly sad by my race performance/DNF. I’ve no definitive explanation. I do know it was not the heart/brain/psychological. Something was not right with me physically.”

Going into more detail on why she thinks the problem was a physical one and not a mental block, Matthews explained that in the blink of an eye, comfortable turned to a struggle and left her unable to make critical decisions on the bike.

“I was in an excellent position, I remember thinking an hour into the bike ‘OK, totally within myself’, very prepared for the 1hr30-2hr30 section to the turnaround, 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. Minutes later, the next pack caught, another great opportunity to just refocus, I couldn’t react, mentally or physically.”

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Long road home for Matthews

As her condition inexplicably deteriorated, the IRONMAN Texas champion began to feel like her safety on the bike was in danger, as at one point she was unsure if she could ride the descent from Hawi.

“The edge of the road white line became my safety (only focus), I just stayed next to that and cycled forwards (barely). Pro females calling out support and asking if I was ok as they passed at speed (Thank You!). Wonderful humans at Hawi brought me back to my senses and I was in the moment uncertain if I could descend safely (a straight road downhill).”

Reflecting on her performance, Matthews underlined that this wouldn’t just be a case of writing off a bad day, adding that getting to the bottom of what happened would consume her in the coming days.

Kat Matthews at the 2023 IRONMAN World Championship in Kona
Kat Matthews at the 2023 IRONMAN World Championship in Kona

“I am stubborn and will never accept that ‘these days happen’. It’s not good enough. I’ll continue to beat myself up and overanalyse it for now.

Tomos Land
Written by
Tomos Land
Tomos Land is a triathlon & running journalist whose expertise lies in the professional world of short course & long distance triathlon, though he also boasts an extensive knowledge of ultra-running.
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