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Canada’s Lionel Sanders and Great Britain’s Lucy Charles repeated as the winners at Challenge Family’s The Championship in Samorin, Slovakia, taking home their share of the 150,000 Euro prize purse.
Charles gave a phenomenal performance, dominating the course throughout, but it was more of a struggle for Sanders who ran his way from seventh off of the bike to first at the finish line. Sanders commented after the race: “It took everything in my being to catch Sebastian.”
Read the recaps from the Challenge Family below:
Local athlete Richard Varga took the early lead in the race, exiting the water first (24:42), with Germany’s Florian Angert (25:22) following in second place with Australia’s Sam Appleton out in third (25:33).
Following a speedy transition, Maurice Clavel (GER) took a sizeable lead in the bike leg, with Pieter Heemeryck following in second place, and Max Neumann in third. By 68km however, Florian Angert had raced his way to the front, which he maintained for the remainder of the bike leg. Kienle climbed to second spot, while Clavel dropped to third.
Despite a difficult bike leg, Sanders raced his way up from seventh position off of the bike, and at the beginning of run lap two, spectators were kept on the edge of their seats as last year’s top two males, Kienle and Sanders, set off with just 23 seconds between them, with Kienle leading. In a dramatic turn, Sanders overtook Kienle and managed to break away within the last three kilometers, taking the win with a time of 3:43:28. Kienle finished second about a minute later, with Angert earning third.
“I am very happy to have been able to participate at this Challenge Family race,” Sanders said. “I absolutely love this venue, it’s fantastic! That’s why I came back—I loved it here last year, and hope to be back here again next year. To do triathlon is an opportunity to do what I can do and how I can push myself to a limit, and this race was a particular example of that.”
As with the men’s pro athletes, the top three female finishers from The Championship 2017—Lucy Charles (GBR), Annabel Luxford (AUS), and Heather Wurtele (CAN)—all returned this year to race for the win. No doubt, all eyes were following Lucy Charles, who has emerged as one of the strongest female triathletes in the world.
To nobody’s surprise, Charles had a strong swim (26:11) and took an early lead, exiting the water more than two minutes ahead of the Czech Republic’s Radka Vodičkova (28:19), and followed by Australia’s Ellie Salthouse (29:22).
The bike leg got off to a swift start with Charles leading from the beginning, followed by last year’s leader in the bike leg, Kimberley Morrison—a fellow British athlete. Wurtele was the third athlete into T2.
Charles started the run with a very comfortable 2:20 lead on second place Morrison. Within the first 5km of the run, it was clear that with such a strong race, defending champion Charles was set to take the title, and the true battle would be for second and third place.
Charles crossed the finish line for the win in an impressive 4:06:10.
Morrison and Vodičková raced head to head in the early miles of the run, but were both taken over by Anne Haug (GER), who took the second podium position. Third place went to Vodičková, who was competing only months after the birth of her first child.
“It was hard as nails out there!” Charles said of her victory. “It’s definitely a 10/10. I knew it would be so much tougher this year, but I’m so happy to have done it.”
The Championship 2018
Samorin, Slovakia – June 3, 2018
1.9K swim, 90K bike, 21.1K run
1. Lionel Sanders (CAN) 3:43:28
2. Sebastian Kienle (GER) 3:44:32
3. Florian Angert (GER) 3:47:22
4. Pieter Heemeryck (BEL) 3:48:50
5. Maurice Clavel (GER) 3:49:49
1. Lucy Charles (GBR) 4:06:10
2. Anne Haug (GER) 4:07:58
3. Radka Vodickova (CZE) 4:11:40
4. Emma Pallant (GBR) 4:12:50
5. Kaisa Sali (FIN) 4:13:59