Stephen Bayliss dominated this weekend’s Challenge Henley-on-Thames near London to take the men’s title in record time in 8:29:31 while New Zealand’s Gina Crawford also smashed the course record, taking her 10th iron distance title in the process in 9:08:05.
Read the race recap from the Challenge series below:
Home favorite Bayliss led the men’s race from start to finish, exiting the water in 48:39 to give him an early lead. Bayliss had to work hard for his win. Fellow Brit, Joel Jameson posted the fastest bike split of the day in 4:47:20, taking nearly seven minutes off Bayliss in the process, showing that he was prepared to fight for the top spot. His swim time of 57:48 however meant he had to make do with second place in 8:31:03. The podium was rounded off by Finnish triathlete Tuukka Miettinen, finishing his first iron distance event of 2012 in 8:33:41.
It was an exciting race for spectators, as it was never clear who was going to take that top podium spot and all of the men fought hard. Both Bayliss and Jameson posted a 2:42 run split, demonstrating the level of performance on the day.
In the women’s race, all eyes were on the top three female pros, Gina Crawford, Bella Bayliss (GBR) and last year’s winner Yvette Grice (GBR). Crawford was able to hold first place from start to finish with an impressive 53:05 swim, 5:11:14 bike and 2:58:34 run. She was never really challenged by the rest of the female field, spending most of the bike trying to bridge the gap to the lead pack of men. Coming off the bike some 20 minutes ahead of her closest contender, Bella Bayliss, she went on to post a sub three-hour marathon to take her 10th iron distance title and third victory in four weeks. Bayliss hung onto second, but there was over half an hour between the two ladies, showing the dominance of Crawford, who, like Bella, only gave birth 14 months ago. Grice finished in third place in 9:56:56, and although her performance was a strong one, it was not enough to catch the two ‘new mums’.
1. Stephen Bayliss (GBR) – 8:29:31
2. Joel Jamieson (GBR) – 8:31:03
3. Tuuka Miettinen (FIN) – 8:33:41
1. Gina Crawford (NZL) – 9:08:05
2. Bella Bayliss (GBR) – 9:40:23
3. Yvette Grice (GBR) – 9:56:56