Heading into The Championship weekend in Samorin, Slovakia, much of the talk was around the deep professional men’s field. Names like Sebastian Kienle, David McNamee, Ben Kanute, Rodolphe von Berg, Pieter Heemeryck and Mauricio Méndez Cruz were all expected to challenge for the win.
After two years of playing second fiddle to Canadian Lionel Sanders, Kienle seemed poised to prove to the triathlon world he was back following a DNF from the 2018 Ironman World Championship with an Achilles tendon injury. Two weeks ago, Kienle won Challenge Heilbronn thanks to an impressive bike and run performance.
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I’m a little proud about this win @challengefamily #thechampionship Not because I think I delivered a great performance, but because I had control over my thoughts in the time when it mattered the most. I kinda missed the start and had really bad first 500m, lost the group and 3:00 to @benkanute People gave me kudos for staying “patient” on the bike, but I was impatient, my legs just where completely crap. Starting the run more than 2:45 down on @pieter.heemeryck I did not really believe I would be able to get this elusive win. But with 7k to go I felt there was something left in the tank and I wanted to burn it all. Congrats to @pieter.heemeryck for 2nd, @rudyvonberg for 3rd. 📷: @jlhourcade #challengesamorin #givesyouwings #hepsportsteam #noshortcuts #rideschwalbe #teamnb #nbrunning #swimbikerun #racelikeahorse
At The Championship 2019, Kienle trailed for much the race, up until the final kilometres of the run. Coming out of the water, Kienle found himself two minutes behind the leaders. Despite posting a sub-two-hour bike split (1:56:26), Kienle was still chasing a strong group of men heading into T2. The man leading the race was Belgium Pieter Heemeryck – the current leader of the Challenge Family World Bonus ranking. But on the run, Kienle quickly went to work. Joined by Rodolphe Von Berg (USA), the two ran themselves into the top three with Heermeryck still in front. Then in the closing kilometres, Kienle attacked and took control of the race. Finishing with a 1:11:29 half-marathon, Kienle won The Championship. Heermeryck finished second – thirty seconds behind Kienle and thirty seconds ahead of Von Berg.
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That three-peat feeling!🤩 What an amazing race once again @challengefamily #TheChampionship 🏆🎉 Over the moon to defend my title once again here in Samorin! Congrats to the other strong ladies on the podium @radkakahlefeldt1 🥈 & @danielableymehl 🥉👏 Photo credits: @jamesmitchell5 #challengefamily #racelikeahorse #winner #threepeat #girlpower #womeninsport #strongwomen #trichicks #givesyouwings #OneObsession #findfaster #AllTribesOneClan #livetoinspire #dreambig #TeamCharlesBarclay
On the women’s side, much was made of Lucy Charles‘ attempt to win The Championship for the third year in a row. To complete the hat-trick, Charles would have to beat Sarah Lewis, Ellie Salthouse, Daniela Bleymehl and Radka Kahlefeldt. Thanks to a superb swim, Charles began the day with a two-minute lead on her nearest competitor. Germany’s Daniela Bleymehl began the bike nearly five minutes behind Charles, but used her bike split (2:07:16) to claw back almost four minutes. However, Charles held her form and finished the race with a 1:19:20 half-marathon to win The Championship for a third straight year. Kahlefeldt passed Bleymehl on the run to finish second. Bleymehl came across the line in third.