Smith digs deep to finish fourth in Kona
Karen Smith battled pain and tough conditions for an impressive fourth-place finish in the 50-54 age group at in the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, on Saturday.
Smith exited the water after a 2.4-mile swim in second place in her age group in a time of 1hr 06min 48sec as part of a tightly bunched field.
German Beate Goertz, the strong favourite in the age group, wasted no time in distancing herself from the competition, averaging 22.33 miles per hour for the 180km bike, despite climbing temperatures and the tough headwinds in the 20 miles before the turn back to Kona.
Smith quickly lost places after two stops to check on noise from her bike but on the return portion moved her way back up into contention, finishing with time of 5:37:19 heading into the run.
However, over the past few years Smith has been suffering with a foot condition that causes swelling and pinching of the nerves and the problem was aggravated on the bike, resulting in a long T2 to ice her feet.
Despite the pain, Smith began to work her way up the field from sixth into fourth but was just unable to reel in former Canadian professional Yvonne Timewell, who finished in 10:40:45.
Smith, who posted a marathon time of 3:47:27, finished just two minutes back in 10:42;54; she did get to within 55 seconds of Timewell before cramping up and having to walk.
Goertz posted a superb 9:46:02, the ninth fastest female amateur time to take the age group win.
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