Skipper shows he’s not your average Joe with fine victory in Florida

Joe Skipper in action during the 2018 Ironman World Championship in Hawaii Picture: Activ Images

Joe Skipper in action during the 2018 Ironman World Championship in Hawaii Picture: Activ Images - Credit: Activ Images

Joe Skipper produced an exceptional performance to win IRONMAN Florida and break the course record, just three weeks after finishing sixth at the World IRONMAN Championships in Hawaii.

The victory marks a career high for Skipper, who had endured a difficult 2019 due to injury until his performance in Kona last month.

The 31-year-old's performance also secured his place on the start line for the 2020 World Championships next October.

The enforced break appears to have allowed him to produce his best towards the end of the year and Skipper admitted on social media that the support he had back in the UK got him through the last few miles.

"Back in 2013 I lined up at Ironman Florida, it was only my third ironman triathlon. I think I ended up finishing in 10th place in 8 hours 17 minutes. I remember @tri.starky (Andrew Starykowicz), Victor del Coral and Filip Osplay all finishing in under 8 hours with Del Coral setting the course record with a 2H37 marathon. All three of them were a class above that day and I wondered would I ever be able to do that. I was over 20 minutes behind and I thought I've got a long way to go if I'm to ever get to that level. So I'm over the noon to come back 6 years later and get pushed all the way by Starky and @bhoffmanracing (Ben Hoffman) to the win and answer that question that, yes, one day I will be able to race at that level and raise the bar with a new course record of 7h 46minutes. Thanks for all the support and messages everyone, I appreciate it all and it really made me dig in knowing so many people were following back home."

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Skipper got out of the 3.8km swim phase in 19th place with a time of 53:51 but it was in the 180km bike leg that the race really took shape.

In Skipper's strongest discipline, the former Notre Dame School pupil worked his way through the field up to third, in a personal best bike leg of 4:05:51.

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Skipper was 9:31 down on leader Andrew Starykowicz (USA) as the 42.2km run leg began with Jesper Svensson also ahead of him.

After 13 miles Skipper had reduced the deficit on the leader to just 3:11, passing Svensson in the process, whilst Hoffman had also come through with the American just under two-and-a-half minutes further back from the Briton.

Skipper's relentless pace saw him take the lead midway through mile 18 and it wasn't long before Hoffman also overtook pre-race favourite, Starykowicz.

Hoffman was starting to eat into Skipper's lead with the gap closing to 90 seconds at one point but Skipper dug deep again in the final two miles to clock 2-39:01, recording a new course record time of 7:46:28. Hoffman crossed the line in 7:48:29 with Starykowicz third in 7:56:32.

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