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Ruth Astle talks Kona strategy and Knibb factor as galaxy of stars set to provide IMWC thriller

Ruth Astle draws on her experience from Kona to predict the race dynamics and tactics that will be on display at this year's edition.

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Ruth Astle believes that this year’s IRONMAN World Championship in Kona will produce some of the most exciting battles yet, as the PTO World #53 and IRONMAN World Championship fifth-place finisher shares her thoughts ahead of the women’s race.

The Brit, who has endured a tough season with injuries and setbacks on her own path to Kona, last year finished 14th on the Big Island of Hawaii. Drawing on her experience from that race, Astle also shared her thoughts on how the climate will play its part on race day.

With American Taylor Knibb set to make her debut over the full distance in two weeks time, there’s an additional factor to consider when it comes to race predictions and Astle believes the IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion will play a major part in the race dynamics.

Serious horsepower

Having recently qualified for her second Olympic Games, Knibb brings considerable swim prowess to the women’s field, something that Astle believes will change the way the race plays out and will likely leave four-time runner-up Lucy Charles-Barclay with some company early doors.

“This year will be super interesting with the addition of Taylor Knibb. We know she can likely swim either with Lucy at the front, or very close behind, so Lucy will likely have bike company from very early on, and the main question I think will be how conservative will Taylor be, and can Lucy stay with her on the bike. They could potentially have quite a lead coming into T2, depending on how much they try and push it.

ST GEORGE, UTAH - MAY 07: Ruth Astle of Great Britain hugs second place finisher Kat Matthews of Great Britain after the 2021 IRONMAN World Championship on May 07, 2022 in St George, Utah. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN

“I then expect there will be a big group with a lot of the other favourites in (slightly depending on how everyone swims, but would expect Chelsea [Sodaro], Kat [Matthews], Anne [Haug], Daniela [Ryf], Laura [Philipp], Lisa [Norden] to all be relatively close by halfway on the bike), and how those dynamics play out depends a bit on the wind and conditions.

“I think this year we are more likely to see some really exciting run battles, and as always I’m sure there will be some unexpected names up there!”

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Tactics, takeaways and PTO Top 40

Discussing her own tactics and preparations, Astle believes as always, the conditions and climate in Kona will play a large part in the way the race pans out, especially in the latter stages of the marathon.

“I think the weather is always a factor in Hawaii, and potentially one that can be overlooked, particularly when the last few years conditions have been pretty good on race day. Being out here training for the last two weeks I have experienced some super windy days that would definitely change the dynamic.

“I have done a mix of sessions in and out of the heat, to get a bit of heat adaption but also try and stay on the right balance of not getting too wiped out. I have also been getting in a fair amount of ocean swimming, because that is definitely a bit of a different skill to pool swimming.

“Conditions on the day can be so different, the temperature real feel of when it is overcast versus when the sun is properly out is massive, on top of if there is any wind while you are running. With the humidity generally if you start overheating it is pretty hard to cool down again!”

Sharing her ambitions for the rest of the season, the Brit revealed that her primary goal is to secure a Top 40 in the end-of-season PTO World Rankings.

“If all goes well (health and body wise) I plan on getting as much racing in as possible for the rest of the season, partly to make up for lost time, and partly to try and end the season in a reasonable place in the PTO rankings. It will be hard given Kona is the only high ranked race left, but if I could have another couple of half decent results I can at least cement my place in the Top 40.”

Graham Shaw
Written by
Graham Shaw
Graham has been involved with TRI247 & RUN247 since the summer of 2021. Since then he has provided strategic direction for all news and is passionate about the growth of triathlon as a fan sport.
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