Jackie Hering achieved arguably the biggest win of her career so far at IRONMAN 70.3 Chattanooga on Sunday.
The 37-year-old American star finished ahead of Canada’s Paula Findlay and Britain’s Holly Lawrence to come home in front in Tennessee.
The race lost some star power less than 24 hours before the start with the withdrawal of reigning Olympic Champion Flora Duffy (COVID), but it still delivered an excellent battle.
Lawrence sets swim pace
Sporting road rash from a bike crash just 10 days ago, Britain’s California-based Lawrence admitted that even a just a couple of days ago she was questioning whether she should be on the start line. That didn’t appear to hinder her swim though as she exited the Tennessee River forty seconds ahead of the rest of the field.
Teamwork on the bike
Lawrence admitted to struggling on the bike until Hering came past and encouraged her to ‘stick in’. Lawrence, Hering and Findlay found the firepower to distance themselves from the rest of the field, which included Mirinda Carfrae.
Hering takes control
Findlay took the early lead on the run, but once Hering had settled herself, she took over at the front and wasn’t challenged again over 13.1miles. Her run time of 1:18:12 was almost four minutes faster than Paula’s.
Hering lifted the IRONMAN 70.3 North American title to underline her position as one of the best middle-distance athletes in the world, taking home a cheque for $12,000 in the process.
She said: “I was trying to run my own steady race at a pace I thought I could maintain. If they would have gone out ahead of me, I would have let them go and I would have just done my thing because that’s the only way I can do it.”
Findlay acknowledged the work by Hering. “I wasn’t having a very good time on the bike until Jackie came by me and said a few words like ‘just keep your head in it, don’t give up.’
“As soon as I was racing with Jackie and Holly it was a lot more fun. Half of this sport is mental, and if you can be positive and keep pushing hard, you’ll do well.”
Lawrence toughs it out
Lawrence meanwhile was happy to hang on to a podium finish, admitting: “I came off the bike last Thursday and to be honest, it’s been about managing it all the way into this race. It wasn’t my best day.
“The girls were super-strong on the bike. They’re my competitors but they’re in it with you and they’re cheering you on. We were exchanging tactics on the run, she [Paula] was telling me I’d got ages until fourth place.
“It was a real tough day but I was stoked to hang on.”
IRONMAN 70.3 Chattanooga 2022 Results
North American Championship – Sunday 22 May 2022
1. Jackie Hering, USA, 4:03:352. Paula Findlay, CAN, 4:06:163. Holly Lawrence, GBR, 4:09:234. Lesley Smith, USA, 4:13:575. Mirinda Carfrae, USA, 4:15:08
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