A BIG year of competing overseas and travel caught up with Paul Matthews at the Foster Grant Ironman Championship in the US.
A BIG year of competing overseas and travel caught up with Paul Matthews at the Foster Grant Ironman Championship in the US.

Foster tough for Matthews

MURWILLUMBAH triathlete Paul Matthews’ gruelling season has come to end, but unfortunately not how he had hoped.

Sunday’s final event, the Foster Grant Ironman World Championship 70.3 in America, proved to be his toughest of 2009, and despite battling bravely, the exhausted 26-year-old came in a disappointing 26th.

Although disgruntled with his season-ending finish, Matthews was otherwise pleased with what has been a successful year on the circuit and is looking forward to returning home to the Tweed.

“I ran, but not fast enough,” he said.

“All in all though, I’ve had a good year this year, and I think I’ve taken another step up in my level.

“I’ve been consistent in all my races apart from the last few, so I’m pretty happy.

“It’s time to return home now and do some proper work with Mad Sports and Andrew Hunter (Twin Towns Swimming Club), drink some beer and relax. Then I’ll get a plan together, get back down to work and head back to the US next year hungrier than ever.”

The fourth-annual 70.3 world championship saw 1438 athletes, ranging in age from 18 to 79 years old, officially start the 2km swim, 90km bike and 21km run on Sunday morning.

After cooler temperatures leading into the weekend, race day was sunny with temperatures in the low 20s, but Matthews’ form was far from hot.

He began well enough with a competitive swim leg that saw him leave the water well in fifth, but it ultimately took a toll on his body.

“I felt good in the swim, but I could never get to the front as I was getting bashed around a fair bit,” Matthews said. “It was the roughest swim I’ve done in a long time.”

Matthews took to the gruelling bike leg with the lead group, and the pack soon got away.

But with the ladies race taking place simultaneously, a long road train was soon formed and jostling for position was simply replaced with keeping touch.

“The girls were getting in between us, but the one big long train is what you expect when you come to this race, as it is so flat and there are so many good guys,” Matthews said.

“Towards the end of the bike though about 12 of us got away and we got off the bike together, so I was happy to be in contention still.”

However after the second and final transition Matthews’ race began to come undone.

Showing true grit, Matthews battle hard through the pain and stayed with the leaders for much of the run, but in the end the race won and Matthews slumped to 26th.

“I guess I ran out of puff after a long season and lots of travel,” he said.

“I’ve raced a lot the past three months and done a lot of travelling, so I’ll have to sit down and change a few things up for next year.

“I’ve learnt a lot about my body over the past few weeks, with the travel, training and getting sick, but I’ve learned from it and will put the knowledge to good use in the future.”



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