The triathlon world let out a dejected sigh when Lucy Charles-Barclay announced she had to withdraw from the Sub8 project due to take place in June.
Not only would she be missing the record attempt, but she’d also be missing the Ironman World Championship in Utah in May in what was set to be a bumper year for the British ace.
And Matthews, who’s part of the BMC Pro Triathlon Team and only took up triathlon in 2015, is certainly not shy of confidence, as she explained in a recent interview with 220.
“Basically, when it was first presented as an idea, me and my husband – who’s really into triathlon – were both like, I reckon I could do that,” Matthews admitted. “And I reckon I’d be better at it than Lucy because of my run and the ability to capitalise on my swim.
“Lucy can’t capitalise on hers and then isn’t as good a runner on paper perhaps, over the Ironman distance. So it was always like, ‘oh yeah, I think I’d be really good at that’.”
There were rumours for a little while that Charles-Barclay wasn’t 100%, which is why Matthews reached out to her agent and asked for them to throw her name into the ring as a potential competitor to race alongside Nicola Spirig, who’s also taking on the challenge.
“I think they were going to run it without anybody. It was just going to be Nicola on her own. I don’t know whether it was my Lanzarote performance [Matthews finished the 70.3 race in first, over three minutes ahead of Anne Haug] or whether it’s something else, but, we somehow managed to convince them the I was well worth a shot.
“I still think I can beat Nicola, mainly because I think my pacing team is much better. No part of me feels this pressure of, ‘I’ve said I can do it, oh my goodness’. I know I can go sub-eight and I know I can give Nicola a really good race.”
Matthews also admitted the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to race Nicola, who’s announced she’ll retire at the end of 2022, and set a new record was a huge draw. “I know there’s a lot of scepticism about whether it’s a real record,” she said, “but it’s a record in its own right.
“For me, the performance excitement is knowing that if I can run a 2:40 off the bike at Sub8, I can take that on to my next standard Ironman and then try and replicate that with a slightly harder bike.
“It gives me these performance markers that some people spend 10 years in the sport trying to get. Whereas I feel like I can really use this to create a ‘what-is-possible’ sort of scenario.”
Sub8 is set to take place on Sunday 5 June in Germany, as Spirig and Matthews attempt to go under eight hours over an Iron-distance course. On the same day, Kristian Blummenfelt and Alistair Brownlee will be attempting to go under seven hours over the same distance.
Find out more about the Sub7/Sub8 challenge on the official website and follow Kat Matthews on Instagram to stay up-to-date with her preparation.
Thanks to BMC for setting up this interview with Kat Matthews.
Top image credit: James Mitchell