Editor21 Dec 2021

Mind gains: Mark Allen says desire can give LCB a St George edge

Kona great looks ahead to the first Saturday in May in St George.
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While Jan Frodeno vs Gustav Iden vs Kristian Blummenfelt is an exciting prospect for St George in May 2022, the top women promise an IRONMAN World Championship race which is similarly oozing with potential.

We are more than four months away from Saturday May 7, and the moment when the talking will finally be over, but it cannot come soon enough.

Mark Allen on the ‘Big Three’

Triathlon great Mark Allen – himself a six-time IRONMAN World Champion – is clearly one of the pundits and experts salivating about what is to come in Utah in early summer.

This week on his ‘Mondays With Mark Allen’ video series, he ran the rule over the three leading women’s contenders – namely Daniela Ryf, Lucy Charles-Barclay and Anne Haug.

Daniela Ryf

“Four-time IRONMAN, five-time IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion. Clearly she’s got some credentials. However, her last IRONMAN World Championship was 2018 – which will be almost four years when she shows up in May in St George. That’s a long stretch.

YouTube video

“2019 for her last IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship. She didn’t win it this past September in St George. Finished 11th, not a great day, not a great season. Has been struggling, has gone into re-invention, isolation mode to try and figure out how to go forward from here.

“Clearly she wants to win it, but the question I have is can she come back from that many years of sort of having some good races but not hitting the ones at the top of the podium that she would like to have done.

“She’s super-strong, she’s got that strength that probably neither of the other women have. Clearly you need strength for an Ironman, clearly you need strength when the marathon is gonna be at the end of a very difficult, long bike, a difficult run course where it’s not flat, you’re gonna have uphills and downhills, you’re gonna have to take a lot of impact.

“She doesn’t have as much speed I don’t think as the other two though and that may be a hindrance because you’ve still got to have some speed on that course. It’s not completely hilly, there’s enough flat and gradual up and down that you really need to be able to push the pace.”

Anne Haug

“She’s the defending IRONMAN World Champion – she won it in 2019. She’s probably thinking ‘I like that feeling, I like being on top of that podium, I like beating all of the other women in the world and let me see if I can do it again.

“Clearly very light, very strong. She’s suited to climb, she can probably go up and down a hill as good as anybody on the planet. But for an Ironman, you also have a lot of pounding when you run a marathon – especially on a course that’s not flat.

“Whether she has the reserve in her slighter body to be able to sustain that impact and keep the pace up, I’m not sure, we’ll have to see.”

Lucy Charles-Barclay

“As you know she won 70.3 Worlds in St George this past September. She’s been second at the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona a gazillion times. She has not been on top of the podium.

“She crushed IRONMAN 70.3 Worlds in September in St George. Showed that she really seems to have that combination of speed and strength. She was very very strong – flawless on the bike, untouchable basically. Same on the run, she held the pace and just kept extending her lead the entire way through that half-marathon.”

Mark Allen St George verdict

“Lucy Charles-Barclay probably has I would say that slight edge in motivation in that Daniela Ryf has won World Championships over and over and over. Annie Haug won in Kona. Lucy Charles-Barclay has never won the IRONMAN World Championship.

“This is a chance – it’s on a course she has proven she can go fast. She’s strong, she knows how to prepare for it, she knows what to prepare for it.

“I think that sort of underdog, second place thing – that can do it for your mind.”