Sebastian Kienle and Lucy Charles-Barclay won Challenge - the Championship half distance triathlon.
In his third try at this half-Iron distance title, Sebastian Kienle of Germany finally won Challenge – The Championship, chasing down long time race leader Pieter Heemeryck of Belgium with 2 kilometers to go.
Most famous for his cycling prowess, Kienle closed with another weapon, a race-best 1:11:29 half marathon, to pass six men and erase a 2:39 T2 deficit. Kienle finished in 3:38:50 with a 32 seconds margin of victory over Heemeryck and 57 seconds over 3rd place finisher Rodolphe Von Berg of the U.S.
“I think this was one of the best runs of my career,” Kienle told Challenge media. “Not that the time is important, but more how I produced it. That run featured a lot of ups and downs mentally. Luckily the last push was forwards and not backwards like last two years. With 8 kilometers to go, I didn’t think there was a chance to win, but my mind was strong enough to make it happen.”
Heemeryck said his performance came as a surprise. “I wasn’t thinking I would stay at the front on the bike, but during the run my legs felt very good,” he told Challenge media. “Still, I was looking over my shoulder the whole time, which was my biggest mistake of the day. At the last turn I thought: ‘No, Sebi is here’. I tried to follow him, but Sebastian was really flying."
Like Heemeryck. Rodolphe Von Berg was more happy than disappointed with his podium finish a minute behind the winner. “It was a hard battle; I’ve never been in a race where the top six was so close,” he told Challenge media. “During the run, I knew this was my moment to shine. I had to give it my all and I did. I can be very proud on myself.”
Lucy Charles-Barclay of Great Britain broke out fast with a 24:19 swim which gave her a 2 minute lead on the next best swimmer and 3 minutes on her most serious overall rivals. While Charles-Barclay always leaves her rivals in her wake on the swim, there was some tension before the start as officials pondered decreasing the swim length due to cold water and a strong current.
“As soon as it was announced there was a full distance swim today, I was like ‘woohoo'” she told Challenge media after the race. “Despite the cold water and strong current, it went pretty well in the water and I was very pleased to have a two-minute lead after it,”
After a women’s 4th-fastest 2:11:05 bike split, Charles-Barclay arrived at T2 with a short lead over Daniela Bleymehl of Germany, who made up a great deal of ground for her 29:18 swim with a women's best 2:07:16 bike split, as did Anja Ippach of Germany who made up for a 27:58 swim with a 2:08:46 bike split. Radka Kahlefeldt of the Czech Republic arrived 4th in T2, 5 minutes behind Charles-Barclay.
In T2, Charles almost gave it away when she fell over her bike but she quickly recovered and headed out on the run in the lead. “I guess it was my worst transition ever,” she told Challenge media. “But on the run, I was strong again.:
Strong indeed as Charles-Barclay sealed the deal with a women’s second-best 1:19:20 half marathon. Kahlefeldt ran past two women but her women’s-best 1:19:15 run split could not seriously dent Charles-Barclay’s lead. “Lucy is just another level, I really don’t know how she does it,” Kahlefeldt said after the race. “It’s amazing. Just like this race is amazing to me. To be on the podium here, it means a lot.”
Charles-Barclay set a race record with her 4:00:25 finish time which gave her a 5:11 margin of victory over Kahlefeldt and 6:52 over 3rd place finisher Daniela Bleymehl of Germany. Bleymehl, the 2018 Challenge Roth winner, owes her podium finish in large part to her women’s record 2:07:16 bike split.
“I had so much fun on the bike,” said Bleymehl. Despite falling from second to third during the run, she finished the day very happy. “The pro field is very strong, so it’s an honor to end up third.”
Challenge – The Championship
June 2, 2019
S 1.2 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.
1. Sebastian Kienle (GER) 3:38:50 S 25:43 T1 2:49 B 1:56:26 T2 2:19 R 1:11:29
2. Pieter Heemeryck (BEL) 3:39:22 S 23:50 T1 2:37 B 1:56:01 T2 2:13 R 1:14:37
3. Rodolphe Von Berg (USA) 3:39:47 S 23:41 T1 2:52 B 1:57:09 T2 2:18 R 1:13:48
4. Andreas Dreitz (GER) 3:40:11 S 26:15 T1 3:25 B 1:54:05 T2 2:33 R 1:13:52
5. Florian Angert (GER) 3:41:26 S 23:37 T1 2:55 B 1:56:31 T2 2:07 R 1:16:16
6. Maurice Clavel (GER) 3:42:07 S 23:41 T1 2:44 B 1:57:05 T2 2:05 R 1:16:28
7. Ruedi Wild (SUI) 3:43:06 S 23:48 T1 2:55 B 2:00:22 T2 2:22 R 1:13:37
8. Max Neumann (AUS) 3:43:16 S 22:54 T1 2:39 B 2:00:45 T2 2:45 R 1:14:10
9. David McNamee (GBR) 3:43:40 S 23:43 T1 2:50 B 2:00:45 T2 2:25 R 1:14:13
10. Adam Bowden (GBR) 3:44:07 S 23:34 T1 2:56 B 2:00:02 T2 2:27 R 1:15:05
1. Lucy Charles-Barclay (GBR) 4:00:25 S 24:19 T1 3:12 B 2:11:05 T2 2:27 R 1:19:20
2. Radka Kahlefeldt (CZE) 4:05:36 S 26:43 T1 3:02 B 2:14:21 T2 2:14 R 1:19:15
3. Daniela Bleymehl (GER) 4:07:17 S 29:18 T1 3:08 B 2:07:16 T2 2:51 R 1:24:42
4. Anja Ippach (GER) 4:10:13 S 27:58 T1 3:10 B 2:08:46 T2 2:50 R 1:27:27
5. Agnieszka Jerzyk (POL) 4:14:27 S 28:10 T1 3:02 B 2:12:58 T2 2:40 R 1:27:34
6. Amelia Watkinson (NZL) 4:16:29 S 28:04 T1 3:23 B 2:17:13 T2 2:43 R 1:25:04
7. Ellie Salthouse (AUS) 4:20:41 S 27:36 T1 3:05 B 2:19:34 T2 2:55 R 1:27:28
8. Ewa Komander (POL) 4:22:57 S 30:12 T1 3:31 B 2:17:19 T2 2:41 R 1:29:11
9. Lisa Roberts (USA) 4:24:30 S 32:01 T1 3:56 B 2:20:25 T2 3:08 R 1:24:57
10. Gabriella Zelinka (HUN) 4:26:10 S 29:19 T1 3:22 B 2:22:04 T2 2:32 R 1:28:52