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Inaugural Challenge Almere-Amsterdam goes Saturday

Dylan McNiece, Keegan Williams, Heleen bij de Vaate, and Hillary Biscay headline the field.

A new chapter in Almere’s triathlon history starts on September 14 with the first Challenge Almere-Amsterdam. There is already an impressive starting line-up with athletes from 35 nations attending this historic event that is the oldest triathlon in the world outside of Hawaii.

Since the Holland Triathlon Almere became part of the prestigious international Challenge Family series, top athletes are keen to take on the challenge and history in Almere.

This year two New Zealanders will be appearing at the starting line. Dylan McNiece winner of Challenge Wanaka and Challenge Taiwan and the number 3 in the Challenge Roth in 2011, Keegan Williams will try to set the tone in Almere. The biggest challengers to these two Kiwis at the moment would appear to be from Germany. The winner of Almere in 2009, Georg Potrebitsch will be trying to add this competition to his name for the second time. The man in top form at the moment is Markus Fachbach; with an amazing time of 8.12.13 hours he took 4th at the Challenge Roth. Other contenders to watch for are Bart Colpaert (Belgium) and Gergo Molnar (Hungary).

Furthermore, the Dutch top athletes will also be at the starting line. In addition to competing for the overall winning title they will also be competing for the Dutch title. Dirk Wijnalda, who has already achieved two victories at Almere, can expect strong competition from the men in the Davilex triathlon team: Erik-Simon Strijk, Roeland Smits and Diederik Scheltinga. Remy Vasseur will also be trying to better his 3rd place position gained at Almere last year. The local Almere favourites, Thomas Naasz and Martijn Boot will of course seek to be part of this meeting of titans.

For the ladies, last year’s winner Heleen bij de Vaate can expect strong competition from the American Hillary Biscay. In recent years Biscay has managed to achieve a place on the podium 18 times in long-distance triathlons and has finished 30 times in the top 5. Irene Kinnegim, winner of 2010 and 2009 and Carla van Rooijen who finished with a podium place in 2009, 2010 and 2012 will also be battling for a medal.

The Almere course is the world’s only long distance triathlon course located below sea level on reclaimed land at the bottom of what was once the Zuiderzee (South Sea), just 25km from the Dutch capital of Amsterdam. Still surrounded by water, the course features the typical Dutch landscapes renowned the world over – dikes, windmills, tulip fields and endless straight, fast roads where the battle is between you and the elements.

Almere’s long history of triathlon includes hosting four European Championships (1985, 1991, 1999, 2006) and two World Championships (2003 and 2008) with the race record held by Jan van der Marel with a time of 7:57:46.

For live coverage on race day, visit www.challenge-almere.com