Ultrarunner Lucy Bartholomew made running and triathlon history on Sunday, becoming only the second woman ever to finish the 171-kilometre Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) as well as the Ironman World Championships in the same year.
Update here: @lucybartholomoo successfully completed the UTMB-Kona double, the first Australian and the second female to have done this double!
— Liam (@aidstationfireb) October 15, 2023
Bartholomew ran remarkably well at both events, taking a tenth-place finish at UTMB in 27:39:22, and completing what was only her second Ironman in 10:43:41, with a 3:31 marathon time. The double–nearly 400 kilometres of challenging racing–has only been conquered by one woman before Bartholomew: Ireland’s Diana Hogan-Murphy, in 2014. Bartholomew is also the fastest person of any gender to have completed both events in the same year.
Bartholomew shot to fame in the ultrarunning world in 2018, when she was the third female at the Western States 100. The runner shared on social media that she lost some of the joy in racing in the years following her WSER podium, and after her 2022 race ended in a DNF, she wasn’t sure if she’d race 100 miles again.
“You show up (almost) every day to run so that you can run even more on the race day, finish and not be able to run, only to want to run, and then run to aid in the recovering of the running and to prepare for more running,” Bartholomew explained. “To take myself out of this cycle I decided to tick a bucket list idea to do an IRONMAN triathlon. It was a ‘one day, someday’ objective that I pulled forward to help pull me out of feeling stuck.”
Bartholomew’s first Ironman, in Western Australia in December 2022, qualified her for the Kona World Championship event in Hawaii. While the runner had only planned to complete one Ironman, she felt she couldn’t miss the opportunity to race in Hawaii. “Not being one who steps down from a challenge, it seemed right to go one more,” she said.
“I’ve swum, biked and run my way to fantastic recovery from UTMB and moderate triathlon fitness for Kona,” Bartholomew said pre-race. “It was a fun, fine balance to play with these two big events so close to each other.”
Watch the road to Bartholomew’s first Ironman on YouTube: