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Lucy Charles-Barclay on Kona bid with British star in “amazing shape” for brutal test in Hawaii

'I definitely feel in amazing shape,' says British star ahead of IMWC.

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Things are very much back on track for Lucy Charles-Barclay as she looks to go one better than her four successive second places in Kona at the IRONMAN World Championship on October 14.

The world #4 was thrown an injury curveball back in May when she fractured the third metatarsal in her left foot when runner-up to Laura Philipp at IRONMAN 70.3 Kraichgau.

She made her return at the PTO Asian Open in Singapore in late August, coming through that unscathed, and since then it’s been all systems go.

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Home comforts

We caught up with her to hear more about the build-up to Kona – and then next week we’ll focus on her thoughts on the big race itself, including potentially having some company on the bike in the shape of Ironman debutant Taylor Knibb, who succeeded Lucy as the 70.3 World Champion.

Charles-Barclay has been in Kona for a week now and she told us: “I had a really good training block after Singapore. I actually decided to base myself in the UK, which is different to what I’ve done before, but I’d spent quite a bit of time away, training in Lanzarote, so we felt like some home comforts! Being at home with the dogs and just kind of having the family around was nice for what is quite an intense training block. 

“But, yeah, that all went really well. We had about six weeks of solid training before heading out to Kona, and now we’ve obviously got a bit of time here just to acclimatise and do the final heat prep.

“As you know, it’s not too hot in the UK at the moment, so you have to do a lot of indoor training, kind of mimicking the heat and the horrible conditions that you get in Kona. So we were able to do that, but now it’s nice to finally be able to be riding outside in those conditions and it not feel too bad as well. So the prep we did at home must have worked quite well.”

Moon boot training!

It’s the second season in a row that Charles-Barclay’s campaign has been hindered by an injury, but unlike the hip problem in 2022, she was able to keep relatively active this time.

She explained: “I think we really tried to almost pretend there wasn’t an injury and just do everything that we could – things that obviously wouldn’t affect the foot.

“So cycling with the moon boot on, doing rowing, a lot of upper body training, getting back in the water as soon as I could. I was actually swimming in the endless pool with the moon boot on for quite a while, which was pretty tough!

But I do think that when I was then able to get back to training like normal, it didn’t feel like I’d lost too much fitness because the step back wasn’t too bad.

“Obviously, leading into Singapore [where she finished fifth], I hadn’t done as much high-intensity training as I would have liked, but we saw it as a first base block for Kona before doing the next block. And it was nice just to get another race under my belt and kind of trust my body again. 

Lucy Charles Barclay PTO Asian Open 2023 run [Photo credit: PTO / Darren Wheeler]
Lucy on the run in Singapore [Photo credit: PTO / Darren Wheeler]

“I think that’s been the hardest thing with the injuries that I’ve had – trusting your body again when you get back into training, that it’s not just going to break again, it is going to be stronger for you. So I think we kind of got those worries and demons out the way in Singapore and then I was confident with the next training block that everything would be good.” 

‘Anything can happen in Kona’

And that’s exactly how it’s panned out, meaning that a week out from Kona, she’s able to say: “I definitely feel in amazing shape. I feel like I’ve had a really good consistent training block, kind of putting the injury behind me and just being able to put in a block of work that I’m really confident and proud of. I think that’s a big thing.

“I think the hardest thing, though, is you don’t submit your training and get given the medal. You have to actually go out and race and anything can happen in Kona. It’s so tough. I think that’s why we love it, that’s why people watch it, because the conditions can really change what happens.”

We’ll hear more next week about what those challenges are, how she thinks the race will map out – and whether this is the year she gets that elusive first win.

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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