Skye Moench was right where she wanted to be coming out of the water at the IRONMAN World Championship – until that is Daniela Ryf went ‘ballistic’.
Moench finished a highly respectable fourth in the delayed 2021 running of the event, but she raced alone for most of the day after finding it impossible to live with the blistering bike pace of the revitalised ‘Angry Bird’.
Impossible to live with Ryf
She admitted afterwards: “Well, I came out of the swim with the ladies I wanted to ride with or try to ride with. So that was awesome. Like, I didn’t have to play catch-up. And yes, I thought ‘alright, I’m going to try and ride with Daniela, I’m going to sit behind her and see what happens’. And she made it extremely difficult.
“I use the word ballistic to anyone I’ve talked to about how Daniela rode today. It was incredible. And I thought, ‘oh, this is going to let up’. You go hard at the start, maybe drop some people, but it never let up. And eventually I was like, this isn’t sustainable for me. And I got dropped.”
Once she had given up the vain hope of sticking to Ryf, Skye concentrated on executing her own race. What kept her going through that brutal 112-mile bike was the knowledge that the marathon would feel better.
“Honestly, the marathon is what got me through the bike. The bike was really hard for me today. It’s weird – I’ve been biking really well in training, but racing just didn’t feel amazing. Usually the bike feels good for me. So honestly, I just knew ‘I just have to get off the bike and get to the marathon, and I’m going to feel better’. And I did.”
A home game
While the race was incredibly tough, Moench – herself based in Utah – thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being able to race a World Championship in her home state.
She admitted: “I don’t think it’s everyday people get to do a World Championship in their home state, get to pack their car and go. So, yeah, that’s pretty special, especially in the IRONMAN World Championship, because it’s always in Kona.”
Moench, while missing out on a podium spot, did claim another accolade on Saturday – she was the first American woman to finish.
“We’re proud Americans, right? We always want to be. We always talk about top American. And yes, I’m grateful to consistently kind of be top performing American, but obviously we’re at a World Championship, and there’s a lot of better ladies than the top Americans. So not too much bragging rights.”