Petraeus, Steffen take Challenge Aarhus

When heavy favorite Rasmus Henning pulled out due to cramps that have plagued him this year, another Rasmus took a surprise win in the men’s race at Challenge Aarhus.

Rasmus Petraueus beat fellow Dane Martin Jensen by 52 seconds and Ironman Hawaii runner-up Caroline Steffen of Switzerland devastated women’s runner-up Eva Nystrom of Sweden by 12 minutes 20 seconds at the half-distance Challenge Aarhus in Denmark.

Petraeus combined a race-best 10:58 swim [shortened to 1 kilometer due to cold water], a 6th-best 2:15:58 bike and a third-best 1:16:56 half marathon to hit the finish first in 3:48:18 and top fellow Dane Martin Jensen by 52 seconds. Petraeus led out of the swim then Jensen’s 2:13:46 bike overtook Petraeus and gave the younger Dane a 1:55 lead at T2, but then Petraeus retook control of the race with a third-best 1:16:56 run that was 2:37 better than Jensen’s run. Mads Vittrup-Pedersen made it an all-Danish podium with a 57th-best 13:34 swim, 11th-best 2:17:39 bike and a race-best 1:14:42 run to take third, 1:56 behind Petraeus.

"It seems a bit unreal right now that I have won the race, but I'm really happy to have established my name now and proven Rasmus Henning and Martin Jensen and the rest of the Danish triathlon community that I'm one to look out for,” Petraeus told race organizers. “I like the role of underdog. Last year I won the Danish long distance championships but neither Martin Jensen nor Rasmus Henning was there. Today both of them were at the starting line with me, but I crossed the finish line first. I had been hoping for a bit more competition from them, but now it just feels great to have done this.”

Jensen was deeply disappointed that he could not win after Henning pulled out. Jensen was the second man out of the water after Rasmus Petraeus and also the second one coming in on the bike - this time after Björn Andersson, who posted a 2:11:22 split. .

"I started off the run quite well and knew that I could overtake Björn in the run at some point,” said Jensen. “But after 16 km on the run, I just didn't have more in me. Rasmus came from behind, and he really had good running legs today, so I just couldn't keep up with him. I'm really disappointed about not winning today but in triathlon the strongest man wins and today that was Rasmus Petraeus.”

Aside from her fifth-best 12:23 swim that gave up 15 seconds to Lucie Zelenkova of the Czech Republic, Caroline Steffen completed dominated the women’s race at Aarhus. Steffen’s 2:20:48 not only was 9 minutes-plus better than third-place Michelle Vesterby of Denmark, it was merely 4 minutes 50 seconds slower than the cycling split of the men’s champion. Steffen closed the door with a women’s third-best 1:25:33 half marathon that simply 1:42 slower than fifth-place overall Eimear Mullan of Ireland and 45 seconds slower than overall runner-up Nystrom.

Certainly there was no need for Steffen to push the run, as she hit the line in 4:04:16 with 12 minutes in hand over runner-up Nystrom and 13:55 over third-place Michelle Vesterby of Denmark.

KMD Challenge Aarhus
Aarhus, Denmark
July 3, 2011
S .6 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.


Elite Men

1. Rasmus Petraeus (DEN) 3:48:18
2. Martin Jensen (DEN) 3:49:10
3. Mads Vittrup-Pedersen (DEN) 3:50:14
4. Emil Dalgard (DEN) 3:50:41
5. Erik-Simon Strijk (NED) 3:51:06
6. Bjorn Andersson (SWE) 3:52:37
7. Dejan Patrcevic (CRO) 3:54:40
8. Chris Fischer (DEN) 3:54:46
9. David Dellow (AUS) 3:56:44
10. Daniel Halksworth (GBR) 3:58:37

Elite Women

1. Caroline Steffen (SUI) 4:04:16
2. Eva Nystrom (SWE) 4:16:36
3. Michelle Vesterby (DEN) 4:18:11
4. Lucie Zelenkova (CZE) 4:22:21
5. Eimear Mullan (IRL) 4:22:37
6. Linda Schuecker (GER) 4:24:34
7. Asa Lundstrom (DEN) 4:27:50
8. Maja Stage Nielsen (DEN) 4:32:31
9. Jessica Fleming (AUS) 4:34:03
10. Helene Pellesen (DEN) 4:38:52