Marjolaine Pierre delivers golden performance in Ibiza to win debut Long Distance world title
Having clocked her first plus-100km bike sessions only months before, France’s Marjolaine Pierre summoned a hugely impressive Long Distance World Championship-winning display in Ibiza to take the gold by almost ten minutes on Sunday afternoon.
Well-placed out of the water, the 23-year-old then found herself in unfamiliar territory leading a long distance race from the early stages of the 116km bike, but never looked anything but right at home as she soared over the 30km run to the tape. Sweden’s Sara Svensk crossed for the silver, the fastest run of the day ensuring home bronze for Gurutze Frades Larralde.
“I can’t believe it! This day will stay with me for a long time” said a thrilled Pierre, who joined her boyfriend men’s champion Clement Mignon on top of the podium. “It was my first time in this distance and after a terrible year last year with four stress fractures including the Samorin race, so this year I made a lot of changes. I think this will take a long time sink in. Ive never led a race as early as that so It was hard to know if I pushed too much, and then as it grew I became a bit worried if I was doing the right thing.”
It was the Spaniard Helene Alberdi Sololuze who dominated the 3km swim, emerging nearly 30 seconds ahead of Denmark’s Camilla Pedersen onto the beach along with Pierre, a full two minutes ahead of Nina Derron (SUI), Japan’s AI Ueda and pre-race favourite Kat Matthews (GBR).
Pierre was soon in full flow, breezing past Alberdi and taking up point position so that within the first 30km she had already put two minutes of daylight between herself and Matthews in second.
At the end of the first bike lap that lead was out to nearly six minutes over the Brit, a group riding together behind that included Ruth Astle, Alberdi, Svensk and Ueda just off the back.
It was over the opening kilometres of the second lap that Astle was able to surge and pull clear into second after Matthews sadly pulled up. With the exertions of an Ironman win in Texas just two weeks before, her challenge for the title was over before it had really begun, Astle now trying to pick her way towards the flying Frenchwoman.
Svensk was also going well ahead of Pedersen in fourth, Ueda now 15 minutes back, Astle just 3.5 minutes off the leader out of transition for the last time, only for her promising charge to come to an end, leg cramps forcing the second British challenger out as the run was just beginning to unfold.
Even with a gruelling 30km ahead, the fact that Pierre was now enjoying a 7-minute gap to the nearest chaser Svensk allowed her to relax into the task in hand.
Pedersen was well set in third after lap one, but Frades was really going through the gears and the rest of the field once she got going. Pierre took the tape after nearly 6 hours of racing, Svensk home in silver, and Frades managed to pass Pedersen and Germany’s Svenja Throes to take the bronze.
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