Ronnie Schildknecht 2nd at NA Championship IM Texas, Clarke 4th24. April 2017 — Triathlon Team
Ronnie Schildknecht ran to an astonishing second place finish at IM Texas to cross the finish line in a time of 7:56:21, while his teammate Will Clarke was just 33 seconds short of 3rd place in a time of 7:59:02. The victory went to Matt Hanson (USA; 7:52:44) while Tyler Butterfield (BMU; 7:58:29) took the third step on the podium.
The day began with a good swim for Will Clarke, who entered T1 in 8th place, trailing the lead by only 21 seconds. Ronnie Schildknecht exited the water in 19th position, 4’39 back from the leading group. Early on the bike a big chase group took form and Will decided to settle in the middle of that group. Just over halfway of the bike leg also Ronnie managed to join the group of 17 athletes. Closing that gap gave Schildknecht confidence for the rest of his race. In the final kilometers Will lost the touch with the group and rode at his own pace, knowing there was a lot of work left in the marathon. Jumping off his bike in 7th place and 4’20 back to 2nd place, Ronnie immediately set his eyes towards the front of the race The Swiss athlete didn’t give his all in the beginning of the run, but managed to build up his pace as the race continued. Unfortunately, Will dropped back to 12th at the start of the marathon, but came back to charge his way through the field to put himself in 7th place after 16km. Halfway through the run the BMC-Etixx athletes found themselves together, in 5th and 6th place, both knowing they had still something left in the tank to attack the guys in front of them. As the excitement began to build, passing the 27km mark in 3rd place clearly gave Schildknecht a boost. He was hungry for more and went after Butterfield to battle for 2nd. Meanwhile Will was giving it his all in the fight for a place on the podium. With 9km to go Schildknecht managed to pass Butterfield and move into second place, while Clarke tried to make it a 2 and 3 for BMC-Etixx.
Ronnie kept going strong to finish the race in 7:56:21. Also Will pushed hard towards the end, but came up half a minute short to take the final podium spot. With the fastest running split for Will (2:42:01) and the 3rd fastest for Ronnie (2:43:38) both athletes managed to finish the race sub-8 hours.
Ronnie Schildknecht commented "To say I am happy would be an understatement! It was such a tough fight and a hard fought second place, but I am very pleased with my performance and the result today. It is also means I have secured my qualification for the WC in Hawaii which sets me up really well for the rest of the season." Also Will Clarke was over the moon with his result: “After the injury that set me back a few weeks ago, running my fastest marathon time is superb. I was trying my hardest to close the gap to the podium but in the last 5Km everything was really hurting. Overall I am very satisfied with my performance. I had a very good swim. The only unfortunate fact was that on the bike, I received a penalty for littering. An energy bar dropped out of my pocket...but I made it back to the group afterwards. Anyway, I'm really happy with the performance and thanks so much to everyone who supported me!”