While the USA’s Taylor Knibb was a dominant and, for much of the day, solo winner of Friday’s IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in St George, the second place of Canada’s Paula Findlay featured head-to-head racing from start to finish.
Findlay has seen the highs and lows of the sport in her storied career, and silver in Utah represented another highlight moment.
Injuries have been a recurring theme in the Findlay career, but during the post-race press conference, the PTO 2020 Championship winner reflected on a long period of sustained health playing a key part in her best IRONMAN 70.3 result to date.
“None of my splits were the fastest of the day, so I think that it came down to consistency across all three. It was very cold, but I do think that did sort of play to my advantage – I never really felt too uncomfortable on the bike, I was always in control.
“I kept looking at my watts and they were high, but I felt fine so I just kept on pushing. I was sort of living for the uphills where we could have the opportunity to warm up a little bit, because it was definitely very cold on the descents.
“I felt great on the run. It doesn’t happen often in my career that I feel like the run is really smooth and fluid, but it happened today, so I’m really grateful for that.”
Dealing with the conditions
Originating from Edmonton, the cold conditions of St George were far more welcome than the searing heat of Dallas last month. Findlay felt that she got her clothing choices pretty much spot on for the temperatures of the day.
“Last night I was like trying on 10 different jackets, deciding on which one I should wear – Is it aero enough? Is it warm enough? – and ultimately I put on a fleecy one with some really big gloves.
“If I could change anything I’d have put socks on, as my feet were pretty cold, but I mostly paid attention to staying warm before the race. I had really warm gloves and didn’t get in the water, and I think that was really helped a lot.”
While she has had plenty of big race wins and successes over the past decade and more, Findlay was rightly proud of her performance.
“It means so much. I’ve been racing 70.3 for a while now and never really had a super awesome breakthrough day. I’ve had some good races, but it is such an honour to be sitting beside these women that I watch on TV racing, more than I actually race them! It’s really pretty cool, really humbling and a good confidence booster going forward, for sure.
“I’ve been training well and been healthy all year which is kind of the biggest obstacle I have, keeping my running consistent, and it’s been 12 months since I’ve been injured and that gave me some confidence. But lining up against these women… I’d have been happy with top-6 / top-8, but second is a bit beyond what I was thinking was possible.”
Paula admitted that at she thought that she was destined to finish fourth…
“When I was running with Lucy and Flora and there were two spots on the podium left, I thought, I’m going to be fourth – but that’s ok, that’s still great.
“Flora really picked it up on the diagonal going down. I was looking ay my kilometre splits thinking like wow, this is my 10k pace, but I just tried to keep with the cadence and I think it was heading up the diagonal on the second lap that I put a bit of a gap in, but I was still never, ever confident. I didn’t want to look back, but I was asking some people if the gap was growing / where is everybody, but you never really know in the calibre of runners I was with.”