Great Britain's Joe Skipper repeated his runner-up finish from a year ago at Challenge Roth, pushing himself to the limit in the process.
July 12, 2017 | PERSONALITY|
It's been quite a journey for Joe Skipper in the triathlon world. After trying his first event in 2010 he quickly became hooked on the sport, winning the British middle distance championship as an amateur in 2011 and turning pro shortly afterwards, convinced by Lucy Gossage to do so because he "couldn’t afford to enter races as an amateur and she said you get free entries and sometimes they will put you up."
Fast forward six years and Skipper has become a big name in the sport. His 7:56 finish in Roth last year (second to Jan Frodeno's world-best time) was, at the time, the fastest ever full-distance race by a British athlete. He repeated his runner-up streak in Roth again this year, but it certainly wasn't easy.
"To be honest, I’m pleased with that," Skipper said after the race. "When you get to the end and you’ve given everything and you got the best out of yourself … fair play to Bart for winning, he was the better man on the day and I can’t complain with my performance."
Despite taking some time before he crossed the line to celebrate with some of his fans, Skipper was shattered by his effort.
"That’s the worst I’ve ever felt after a race," he said. "I think it’s because of the hilliness of the run course – running down the hills really kills your legs and you’re digging in on the uphills. I got off the bike in sixth and I was trying to make the podium and when I knew I had a chance at second place I tried to give it everything."
"When I got into second place, I didn’t know where I was and, if he (Germany's Maurice Clavel) was with me, I didn’t want to look behind, because it’s the worst thing to do – it just encourages the guys behind. The spectators were telling me he was right behind me. I thought he was 15 seconds behind and that it could come down to a sprint finish, so I just gave it everything. The effort took its toll at the end."
Skipper seems to excel in Roth, both because of the course and the timing.
"I think the course and the spectators push you to the limit," he said. "And I just seem to hit my peak form in July. Looking back over the years, in July I always seem to be on really good form. I think the race comes at the right time of the year. I just really enjoy it. I’ve got a really nice home stay. My friends come out and do the race as well. It’s a really nice, relaxing atmosphere leading into it. Then on race day you’ve got everyone just shouting at you."
While race day in Roth this year was hot, Skipper was quick to acknowledge that the heat gets dialled up a notch once you get to the world championship in Kona. The high humidity has been a challenge for him to handle.
"That’s what seems to kill me. I can go all right in dry heat, but once you get to Kona and it's like that 80 percent humidity, it takes its toll on me."
Now that he has more experience, though, Skipper feels like he's ready to tackle Kona once again. His plan is to compete on the Big Island in 2018.
2018 will also likely include a return trip to Roth, too, where Skipper says he'll lay it all out in search of the win.