Challenge Almere-Amsterdam is hardly noted as being a fast course – traditionally the day comes with cool, wet and windy conditions that don’t make for super-speedy times. That all got thrown out the window this year as the athletes enjoyed near-perfect conditions for the race, which also served as the World Triathlon Long Distance World Championships. The Netherlands’ own Sarissa De Vries took an emotional women’s win, while Denmark’s Kristian Hogenhaug put his name in some exclusive company with his impressive win and time.
De Vries leads from start to finish
In the swim De Vries and Denmark’s Camilla Pedersen quickly pulled clear of the rest of the field, but it was the local hero who led out of the water, with the Dane right on her heels. De Vries would eventually pull clear of Pedersen on the bike as the new mom (Pedersen delivered in March) would eventually have to pull out with some health issues after she fainted at one point on the bike.
Another Dane, Michelle Vesterby, would power through the ride and get as close as a minute to De Vries, with France’s Manon Genet hanging on for much of the ride, but eventually falling off Vesterby’s record-setting pace – De Vries would arrive in T2 after breaking her old bike record by about six minutes, only to have Vesterby break that record a few minutes later with her 4:30:56 split.
Out on the run De Bries put together a solid 3:01:49 split to hang on for the win in a blazing 8:32:04), while Genet would use a 2:58:01 split to run her way to second (8:34:22). Vesterby hung on for third (8:38:53) – all three would set national records for the full distance.
It was an emotional win for De Vries, who had lost her grandmother earlier in the week.
“It’s very very special,” she said after the win. “I watched this race when I was 10-years old when my dad competed in it. I always said that I wanted to race it when I grew up and now I have raced it three times and today a World Championship. My grandma passed away last Wednesday so it’s really nice that I could do it for her. I am really happy. The last 10km were so hard, nothing was in my body anymore, but I managed to finish.”
Results: Elite Women
1.Sarissa De VriesNED08:32:04
Hogenhaug blasts to world title
In what turned out to be a side-by-side battle for much of the run, Krisitan Hogenhaug managed to finally pull clear of Sweden’s Jesper Svensson over the final seven km to take the world title in record setting style, breaking the old course record by almost 13 minutes and becoming the second-fastest ever at a Challenge full-distance race (only behind Jan Frodeno’s 7:35:39 from Challenge Roth) with his 7:37:46 clocking.
Svensson was first out of the water followed by Antony Costes (FRA), Pablo Dapena Gonzalez (ESP) and Alexander Berggren (SWE). American Andrew Starykowicz got hit in the head at the first turn buoy and would eventually have to drop out during the bike due to a concussion – explaining why he was further back than expected out of the water and never made a charge on the bike. Another race favourite, David McMamee (GBR) would also pull out on the bike.
None of which bothered Hogenhaug or Svensson – the two powered through the bike, dropping all the rest of the athletes who tried to stay close as the bike progressed and hitting T2 with a lead of more than seven minutes. The two then ran together for almost 35 km before Hogenhaug was finally able to get clear and run his way to the world title.
“This one was my 4th long distance race in four months,” he said after his race. “I didn’t feel good, but I think I had a decent swim. I like to go to the front of the race to take control, so as son as I could I did it, but I think I hammered, maybe a bit too much, so then I slowed down a bit. I did a lot of work on the bike and then the battle on the run, was something I will never forget. I never had pushed it that far.”
Svensson would hang tough for a 7:39:25 silver medal performance, while Brazil’s Reinaldo Colucci made a big charge early in the run but wasn’t able to challenge for the top two spots on the podium and would take the bronze medal.
Results: Elite Men