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Lucy Buckingham and Lizzie Rayner talk about their BRUTAL Belgium sprint finish

The two protagonists in that amazing sprint finish at 70.3 Knokke-Heist talk through the emotions in the closing stages.

News Director
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It was arguably the finish of the season as Lucy Buckingham somehow found hidden reserves to hold off Lizzie Rayner in a British one-two at IRONMAN 70.3 Knokke-Heist in Belgium on Sunday.

Less than 90 minutes beforehand the race had looked all over – Buckingham had led by more than five minutes heading out of T2 and appeared in cruise control early on the run.

But before halfway came the first warning signs as first France’s Emilie Morier and then Rayner started to cut into that advantage.

At the final turn with just under 4km to go Rayner was locked in on her target, ‘Terminator style’ and just 59 seconds adrift, and at the final checkpoint with less than 1km remaining the gap was just 10 seconds and her prey was in sight.

Buckingham responded superbly though, with both women sprinting for the line and there were just eight seconds between them when it came.

Buckingham: ‘I had to dig so deep’

Spent from the effort, they lay on the red carpet for a couple of minutes but once recovered, reflected on an incredible finale – which was significant for both as it was a welcome win after a challenging time battling injury for Buckingham and a first IRONMAN podium for Rayner.

Buckingham said: ” I could hear the crowd just getting louder and louder and I knew that Lizzie was coming and, oh, my word, I’m just so glad I hung on for the win.

I genuinely thought she had me, but all credit to the girls.

“They chased me hard and they put me under the cosh and I just had to dig so deep.

“I really wanted to do it for my team [BMC] in Belgium, where they are based. I’m so happy.

“And I’ve had a bit of a rough year with injuries and health issues, so to come here and do what I did, I’m so proud.”

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Rayner – ‘I just ran out of room in the end’

Rayner too needed time to let everything sink in as she added: “It’s my first Ironman podium. I just had a good day. I tried to stay present and felt very, very controlled all the way and just ran out of room in the end. But super happy.”

And plenty of credit too to Morier who revealed afterwards: “It’s a fantastic third place for me because I’ve had COVID since Lahti [where she competed in the 70.3 Worlds just three weeks ago].

“So it was difficult to be here but I’m very happy to take the start here because my season was up and down but I’ve finished with a podium.”

Lucy Buckingham at Finish of Ironman Belgium 2023 photo credit ActivImages for IRONMAN
[Photo credit: ActivImages for IRONMAN]
Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  
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