Intrinsic-sponsored GBR triathlete Matthew Cox reflects on his close fought battle for bronze at the 2022 World Triathlon Long Distance Championships in Samŏrín, Slovakia this summer. Competing in the 35-39 Male Age Group, he completed the course in 03:49:44, barely 27 seconds behind the silver medallist.
I’d like to thank …
What a week it was. Before I dive into my race report, I want to give a big shout out to the Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO), World Triathlon, Nirvana Europe travel and the awesome X-Bionic® Sphere & Hotel.
Then of course, Intrinsic. I can’t thank the business enough for getting me out there. I always feel honoured to represent Intrinsic and wouldn’t be racing at this level without the company’s support and encouragement.
The race experience was simply incredible, world class facilities and mingling with the all the pro athletes competing at The Collins Cup. Not to mention a great race week vibe with plenty going on. In fact, it was so good it was hard to say no to all the opportunities on offer.
GBR race ready
Going into the race I actually felt pretty good. I’d managed a balance of work/life/training and felt like I was in really good shape. My training in Slovakia in the immediate run-up to the event proved that everything had come together nicely: I ticked off an easy 2 hour ride averaging 24 mph on the course – well mostly on the course bar a minor navigation error (best here than in the real deal); an evening track session in which I struggled to slow myself down; and a swim session with some of the American pros.
As the race approached, a little bit of imposter syndrome of not belonging at this level crept in. But I also believed that my form meant I could threaten a medal with a good performance. It was an odd place to be pre-race. Ultimately, the familiar mix of nerves and excitement got me pumped and I was raring to go.
Choppy Danube ‘waltz’
With the wind up, the swim in the not-so-blue Danube was choppy, and as far from a waltz as you could imagine. I also hadn’t anticipated the speed and aggression that the swim started with; it took a few moments to get my head round this. Then I clung on as best I could, gradually reeling in competitors over the last 500 metres. I exited the water in second place in Age Group and making respectable time.
The bike was another level of difficulty. All my friends at home had teased how easy the course would be with no hills on the bike. I can tell you now, I’d take a hilly course over a 40km flat out and back route any day of the week. The strong winds and the lack of anything remotely resembling a rise in the road made the distance feel like the longest in my life. All I wanted was to stand up and shift my weight ever so slightly. Nevertheless, I rode well and passed people continuously until an Italian rider shot past me with 10km to go as if I was stationary.
Reel in the Italian, hold off the Aussie
Off the bike into a slow second transition for me, but as I emerged a small pack of the pro men came past and I tagged onto them. They were running at my goal speed, so I settled into a pace and tried to work out where I was. The two laps I ran with the Chilean and Swiss pros felt easy and we were running at bang on 6 minute mile pace. I figured out my Italian ‘friend’ from earlier was 45 seconds up on me and I had more than a minute to third.
Job one, reel in the Italian. The gap between us on lap three at the turnaround point was 20 seconds, but he saw me and when he turned up the pace I couldn’t bridge the gap no matter how hard I tried. I began to fade having burnt a few matches trying to make the catch. Lap four was all about survival and I saw at the turnaround point an Aussie athlete in my age group moving quickly.
Job two, hold off the Aussie. Four hundred metres to go and no-one had passed me. Two hundred metres to go and he flew past me. I briefly upped the speed but had nothing in the tank and he was gone. I checked behind and knew I had a safe third place, enjoyed the finish line and then collapsed.
A moment to reflect
It was one of the toughest races I’ve had, but the greatest experience. Being at the sharp end of my age group race was an incredible experience that I loved.
Off the course it was time for a few beers and some R&R, catching up with my podium rivals and chatting about the race and things to come. I caught up with my age group team mates from Mendip TRC, Lewis Smith and Vicky Gibson, both competing in Slovakia, and spent some time replying to so many goodwill messages from people back home tracking me.
The evening continued with a podium celebration and medals, festooned with GB flags, followed by an awesome after party.
Season climax and 2023 plans
Now it’s onwards and upwards. I’ve one final race this year with the season ending at Minehead where I’m looking to defend my 2021 title. Beyond that, my 2023 race calendar is looking busy already including the World Triathlon Long Distance Championships in Ibiza and Ironman Tallinn, Estonia on the cards.
Last but definitely not least, a slightly bigger personal challenge ahead as me and Laura tackle the parenthood journey for the first time – Laura is expecting in January. But that’s another blog post entirely!
Matt Cox Race Stats – 2022 World Triathlon Long Distance Championships, Samŏrín, Slovakia (21st August 2022)
35-39 Male Age Group
Bronze (3rd) – 03:49:44
Swim 00:31:57 ; T1 00:03:16 ; Bike 02:03:03 ; T2 00:02:47 ; Run 01:08:43
- Team Intrinsic represents the combined interests of Intrinsic Facilities Engineering Ltd and Intrinsic Facilities Management Ltd
- Minehead Triathlon, Somerset, Sunday 2nd October 2022 (organised by Channel Events). Intrinsic-sponsored Matt placed 1st overall in 2018, 2019 and 2021, and 2nd in 2020. Click here for more results.
- The Great Britain Age Group Team offers all home nation members a unique opportunity to compete at World and European Championships. Those who qualify to represent GB enjoy the experience of racing internationally against the best in their age group.
- 2023 World Triathlon Multisport Championships Ibiza runs from 29th April to 7th May 2023
- Ironman 70.3 Tallinn, Estonia is on 5th August 2023
- Mendip TRC, Somerset based triathlon and running club where Matt trains and is an England Athletics Level 2 Run Coach
- Laura Gallagher Cox, 2017 British Trampoline Champion, World and European medallist and member of Team GBR at 2021 Olympics found time to marry Matt Cox in 2018.
- PTO (Professional Triathlete Organisation) is an athlete-owned organisation dedicated to showcasing the passion, athleticism and determination of professional triathletes, inspiring the world through outstanding performances and incredible stories
- Nirvana Europe is the Official GB Age-Group Team Travel Supplier and has been providing travel and accommodation packages for athletes and spectators to World and European Championship events since 2002.
- X-Bionic® Sphere Hotel offers first class conditions for every visitor from athletes, professional teams, and families with children to visitors to conferences, exhibitions and congresses