Challenge Almere in Holland celebrated its 40th Anniversary this year by hosting the World Triathlon Long Distance Championships. Though some events in the traditional race lineup were deferred due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the main event was still very much on. The postponement of the Ironman World Championship race in Kona increased the pro field, as did the close proximity for athletes who recently raced the nearby Collins Cup and/or Challenge Roth. This created a world-class competition at a world-class event.
In the men’s race, Dane Kristian Hogenhaug and Swede Jesper Svensson came off the bike together and spent the next 30 km running shoulder to shoulder. Despite maintaining a 2:41 marathon pace, the two looked like training partners out for a casual weekend long run. As they neared the end of the 6-lap run, however, the race dynamics changed. Hogenhaug surged and Svensson couldn’t respond. At the finish line, Hogenhaug clocked a 7:37:46 with Svensson trailing by 1:39. Brazilian Reinaldo Colucci finished third. The top seven men in the race all finished under the 8-hour mark. Former pro cyclist Adam Hansen of Australia set a new bike course record at 4:02:46.
On the women’s side, the battle was equally intense, and just as fast. Sarissa De Vries, the home country favorite, sped to a 8:32:04 finish, also a new race record. It was an emotional win for De Vries, whose grandmother passed away the Wednesday prior. De Vries was followed by Manon Genet just 2:18 back. Michelle Vesterby rounded out the podium in third place, setting a new bike course record (4:30:56) in the process.