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Skipper targets World Championship top 10 after first Ironman UK victory

Joe Skipper won Ironman UK for the first time 
Picture: Antony Kelly

Joe Skipper won Ironman UK for the first time Picture: Antony Kelly

Archant Norfolk 2016

Joe Skipper is targeting a top-10 place on the world stage after winning Ironman UK for the first time – despite a back injury sustained earlier this year.

The 30-year-old, from Cringleford, had twice finished third at the event in Greater Manchester but convincingly claimed top spot on the podium this year – seven minutes and 20 seconds clear of his nearest rival.

Skipper’s win has qualified him for another crack at the World Ironman Championships in Kona, Hawaii, where things didn’t quite go to plan in 2016, finishing 42nd.

“That’s qualified me for Kona,” the endurance athlete explained.

“I decided to have a year off from Kona last year and did other races instead. When I watched it I did really miss it – but I wanted that to motivate me for the next time. I struggled last time (in 2016), it was just so hot and I had a bit of bad luck as well.

“I definitely want to go top 10 at Kona and then go forward from there once I’ve got that ticked off. I really want to get top 10 and then that will be something to build on the following year.”

The former Notre Dame High School pupil, originally from Lowestoft, completed the course at Pennington Flash Country Park in seven hours, 53 minutes and 34 seconds overall.

He finished the 2.4-mile swim in 56.35 minutes, five minutes behind the lead, and then the 95-mile cycle – shortened due to the recent wildfires in the area – in 04:08.30 hours. German athlete Marc Duelsen was still 3.30 minutes clear as the 26.2-mile run began but Skipper moved ahead just after halfway to complete the marathon in 02:45.56 hours.

That all followed on from finishing fourth at Challenge Roth in Germany a fortnight earlier, where Skipper became the first British man to go under eight hours in an Ironman back in 2016 – which he managed again, despite injury issues which left him unable to run.

“I hadn’t done that much before Ironman UK because I’d done Ironman New Zealand in March and finished second – but then found out I had a slipped disc in my back,” Skipper revealed.

“So that meant two months without running, so I had to do more swimming. I hadn’t realised before the race, I was in a lot of pain but I had some painkillers which got me through and it was only after the race that I was in absolute agony, once the adrenaline had worn off.”

Next up is Ironman Hamburg on July 29, then altitude training in the south of France next month, before attentions turn to the big stage in Hawaii in October.

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