Local knowledge: Skye Moench looking forward to St George challenge

Skye Moench is relishing the volume of climbing in store after organisers revealed the course for the rescheduled 2021 IRONMAN World Championship at St George. 

But in a video posted on her YouTube channel, the US athlete said high winds could also play their part when the action takes place on May 7. 

St George will become the first venue outside Hawaii to host the IRONMAN World Championship, but the 2022 event is scheduled for Kona in October.  

And Moench starts the new campaign at #7 in the PTO rankings after a 2021 which included wins at IRONMAN 70.3 Texas and IRONMAN Chattanooga.

The St George course will feature a loop swim, 2,248m of climbing on the bike and 431m of elevation on the run. 

Local knowledge

Moench is familiar with the Utah venue, since she is based in Salt Lake City in the same state and has competed there four times. 

And while the 33-year-old says the swim course contains “no big surprises”, the bike and run sections have left her excited by the challenge ahead. 

Starting with the swim, she feels kit choice could be crucial. 

She said: “We’re going to be at Sand Hollow. And actually, I’m happy about the swim course because it’s one loop, which means there’s going to be less chaos on the swim. 

“If it were a two-loop course, we’d have people swimming all over each other. So, one big loop, this is good. 

“Obviously, the thing with the swim course is the water can be very cold, so that’s just something to be aware of.” 

Switching to the bike course and Moench told her YouTube channel: “The good thing is we will be doing a lot of climbing.  

YouTube video

“Let’s see 7374ft of climbing, that’s 2248 meters. Not a technical descent, but you need to be very comfortable going extremely fast and pushing your way down it. 

“So, it’s going to be an awesome bike course and I can’t wait to do all that climbing. 

“I love climbing and I’m looking forward to it warming up a little bit here at home so that I can hit the great climbs here to prepare for it.” 

Moench added: “The bike course is what we’ve all been waiting for. To be honest, there’s a lot of similarities to the 70.3 course. 

Keeping tabs on her rivals

“We have one big out and back at the beginning of the bike course, so that is where you can check out your competition. 

“I really like out and backs because I like to see where I’m at relative to who got out of the water ahead of me. And this is a nice long out and back so hopefully, you can see everyone while you’re out there. 

“But then we pretty much get onto the 70.3 course to get our way into St George which is a lot of rolling hills. And then we start the Gunlock loop, affectionately known as Veyo Pie Loop. 

“So just here’s the pro tip for the bike course. If you are in a world of hurt and you’re bonking when you get to the top of The Wall, there’s a pie shop in Veyo and you can get a pie!

“Anyway, getting there though, it’s definitely this uphill grind and it’s called The Wall for good reason as it’s extremely steep.”


Weather watch

While Moench and her rivals can train for the hills, she says the weather is something they will have to adapt to. 

“The big variable on this Gunlock loop is the weather because we don’t know what we’re going to get, and we witnessed that at 70.3 Worlds. 

“There have been times where I have been riding this very loop and the wind was so insane. 

“I remember just looking at the people that I was riding with and just the disbelief on our faces because the wind was literally just this block wind. We were hardly moving. 

“So, I just know there’s so many variables that we aren’t going to know until race day comes. But it could get really spicy and interesting if the weather decides to really show up on race day. 

FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY - JUNE 30: Skye Moench of USA celebrates after winning the women's race of Mainova IRONMAN European Championship on June 30, 2019 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. (Photo by Joern Pollex/Getty Images for IRONMAN)
Photo by Joern Pollex/Getty Images for IRONMAN

“I do think overall though, it’ll still be quite a fast course because these are the best athletes in the world and we’re all strong and we all like a challenge and we’re going to go hard.” 

With Snow Canyon the second of two hills coming at around the 100-mile mark, Moench stressed athletes will need to pace themselves well. 

She said: “I’m not saying save your legs because you just got to leave it all out there on the course, but be prepared for these climbs. 

“And for me personally, I will be focusing on making sure that my fueling is really executed on race day.”

It could have been worse

Moench is less familiar with parts of the run course, but remains positive about it. 

She said: “It’s going to be tough, no doubt, but the elevation gain, in my opinion, is gradual enough that when you’re coming down it, it feels easier. 

“But it’s not like you feel like you’re running down this crazy slanted hill and it maybe won’t shred your quads quite as bad as some of those other hills that they could have put on the course. 

“So, it’s definitely going to be a strength run, but again kind of like the bike course. 

“So yeah, that’s a hilly run but trust me when I say it could be worse.”

Written by
Ed Mezzetti
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