Joe Skipper was considered an overwhelming favorite coming into Ironman Wales, which was a pro men-only race. And after a swell 49:39 swim split things were looking up. But that only garnered him a 5-minute deficit to the grandly named and excellent swimmer Andrew Horsfall-Turner. With Skipper’s mighty run, no reason to sweat.
But immediately things changed for the worse. Soon into the bike leg, Skipper ran into a nasty mechanical problem.
“Chain got all tangled up in a knot after a descent and just couldn’t get it out. Had to wait for some bike support and completely undo the chain eventually to get it out. Thought my race was over.”
But it wasn't over over. But his bike troubles added up to a 25-minute deficit at the 60km mark of the bike. And opponents like Horsfall-Turner of Great Britain and super biker Boris Stein of Germany would not lay down and die without a fight.
Sure enough, Skipper’s bike split, with all his troubles, was a nightmarish (for him) 5:00:29. Underlining how tough conditions were, super biker Boris Stein posted a not much better 4:46:20 for the bike leg.
Skipper, who flies out to Kona in four weeks, would need to make up a now 20 minute deficit on the run. And in addition to Stein, Horsfall-Turner was not surrendering. He posted a 4:49:37 bike split to go with his super swim. Even when Skipper moved into the top five, his deficit remained 15:54 to Horsfall-Turner.
There was no quick fix.
Halfway through the marathon, Skipper clocked a 1:16 split -- by far the fastest in the field. His gap was down to 3 minutes to Stein, who had run past Horsfall-Turner into the lead.
At the 30-kilometer mark, Skipper took the lead and finished with a stellar 2:37:25 marathon. That propelled him on his way to an 8:35:49 overall time which brought him home with an 8:05 margin over Stein, 14:49 over third place Kevin Maurel of France, 16:29 over 4th place Andrej Vistica of Croatia, and 22 minutes and 47 seconds ahead of Horsfall-Turner, who finished an honorable 5th.
Lesson? No matter how discouraging things get: never, never, never quit.
September 11, 2022
S 2.4 mi. / B 112 mi. / R 26.2 mi.
Men's Top 10
1. Joe Skipper (GBR) S 49:39 T1 6:14 B 5:00:29 T2 2:05 R 2:37:25 TOT 8:35:49
2. Boris Stein GER S 52:32 T1 6:12 B 4:46:20 T2 2:28 R 2:56:25 TOT 8:43:54
3. Kevin Maurel (FRA) S 49:30 T1 6:27 B 4:53:38 T2 2:41 R 2:58:23 TOT 8:50:38
4. Andrej Vistica (CRO) S 57:30 T1 7:04 B 4:58:05 T2 2:22 R 2:47:19 TOT 8:52:18
5. Andre Horsfall-Turner (GBR) S 44:29 T1 6:21 B 4:49:37 T2 1:59 R 3:16:12 TOT 8:58:36
6. Victor Arroyo Bugallo (ESP) S 56:40 T1 6:17 B 5:00:08 T2 2:35 R 2:56:25 TOT 9:02:03
7. Finn Arentz (GBR) S 52:09 T1 6:34 B 5:10:55 T2 2:43 R 2:56:29 TOT 9:08:47
8. Dougal Allan (NZL) S 53:44 T1 7:18 B 4:52:59 T2 2:33 R 3:14:32 TOT 9:11:04
9. Maximilian Hammerle (AUT) S 52:48 T1 6:11 B 5:07:35 T2 3:37 R 3:08:50 TOT 9:19:00
10. Francesc Artigues Ramis (ESP) S 58:48 T1 7:56 B 5:12:49 T2 2:35 R 3:19:47 TOT 9:41:53