A hard day was good prep for the World Championship in St. George in September
Saturday’s Ironman 70.3 North American Championship in St. George fulfilled its promise as a litmus test for some of the best triathletes in the world. Behind men’s and women’s winners Lionel Sanders and Daniela Ryf, respectively, Trek athletes put their form on a big stage and showed where they stand as they enter the meaty part of their training regimens.
Rudy Von Berg finished fourth among the men and Skye Moench finished fifth among the women to lead the way. Von Berg entered the run segment in second place on the course after a strong swim and bike. And though he didn’t feel that he ran his best, the final results confirmed that he is one of the sport’s most consistent competitors. Ditto for Moench, who received more proof that she is in strong shape. She also has a fifth place finish at Challenge Miami, and won Ironman 70.3 Texas.
Moench was happy after the race, especially because of what it could mean for future results. She had been orienting her training towards Ironman Tulsa in three weeks, before shifting her focus towards championship races.
“I was not fully tapered and fresh for this race, but that makes my effort even more rewarding for me personally,” Moench said. “We had some good battles on the run for fourth through sixth place, so that felt fun to be part of and kept me fighting very hard until the very end.”
Von Berg feels he could have done better, but he, too, was looking forward a bit. He’s aiming to be in peak form in June for the Ironman 70.3 European Championship in Elsinore, and for Ironman 70.3 Les Sables d’Olonne.
“Fourth is solid but I 100 percent know I can be at least on the podium,” Von Berg said. “The swim and bike went well but felt flat, and I suffered the whole run. I’m proud for pushing it off the front on the bike portion, and giving it my all out there not waiting for things to happen.”
Holly Lawrence finished sixth, just 24 seconds behind Moench, in her first race since Challenge Daytona last December. The result was somewhat disappointing by the former world champion’s very high standards, but she remained upbeat after the race.
Lawrence, as well as her teammates, will return to St. George in September for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship. Though Saturday’s results didn’t perfectly line up with ambitions, Trek athletes gained first hand knowledge of just how brutal the hilly Utahan course can be.
“St. George is a beautiful place for a triathlon and the course is one of my favorites on the Ironman circuit,” Von Berg said after the race. “It’s picturesque, but also brutal for the legs, and is just one of those epic and unique race courses out there.”
“I’ve raced and trained in St. George, and knew exactly what I was getting into,” Moench said. “The course forces you to stay very strong mentally, as well as physically, and I enjoy that kind of course!”
St. George gave the athletes a vital reference point for their training. For athletes like Linsey Corbin, who finished 15th among the women in her race in 19 months, that information is invaluable as she gets reacquainted with a full racing calendar.
The triathlon season is still young, especially for triathletes who can’t be certain of their form after receiving so few opportunities to test themselves due to the pandemic. St. George was one of the year’s first big tests, but it is far from the last.