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Heather_wurtele_challenge_iceland_2016_rideFirst Endurance triathletes were challenged on a difficult 70.3 course on a cold and wet day in Reykjavik, Iceland. Heather Wurtele dominated the women’s field and Kevin Collington edged out his rivals at the finish line.

Reykjavik, Iceland offered up a “challenging” course and Mother Nature also added to the elements as Wurtele explained “Some of the days leading up to the race were quite sunny and warm so we all had our fingers crossed for race day, but unfortunately it was cold and raining. The lake was 15 C, which is really not bad but we all took time to put some extra clothes on in T1. Because of the cold, I made two higher calorie bottles of EFS grape, and had more EFS Liquid Shot on both the ride and the run, and just took water at aid stations. I’ve raced all over the world, in some pretty scenic places, but I’m not sure I’ve seen a more beautiful course! The landscape here is really unique and inspiring.”

Despite a 3-minute deficit to the leaders after the swim, Wurtele finished the day 4 minutes 21 seconds ahead of Czech Republic’s 2nd place finisher Radka Vodickova and 8 minutes 14 seconds ahead of fellow American Haley Chura. Wurtele pulled back her deficit and built her lead with quick transitions and a scorching fast ride on a difficult course that suited Wurtele’s strengths, including a lot of climbing. “There were some very fast swimmers here in the women’s field, and I did the whole swim all alone, in a bit of wind, rain and chop, so I knew I’d have my work cut out for me on the bike. My legs felt great and I was able to take the lead well before half way on the ride, and extend it to over 6 minutes by the end of the bike. I pushed pretty hard for the first loop of the run, and was able to just soak it all in and enjoy myself for the last loop! I definitely had a smile on my face for most of the day!”

“I feel very lucky to have been able to race the inaugural event here in Iceland, and I’m super happy to come away with the win! The course was absolutely spectacular – very challenging and super scenic – so it was one of those days where I was just relishing every moment.”

Wurtele commented on getting to experience some “culture” during her Icelandic trip in addition to notching another 70.3 win. “On the way over I watched a funny Icelandic movie called Albatross, and there was a scene where these guys had to move Arctic tern nests and they wore helmets, carried umbrellas and ran around in terror while the birds attacked them. I was out training before the race and got to experience this first hand! An angry tern dive bombed me while I was running and crapped on my shoulder. I figured it was good luck for the race! These birds, after all, migrate from the south to north poles so they’re pretty badass!”

 

Kevin Collington Challenge Iceland 2016 podium

Kevin Collington’s win, on the other hand, didn’t come quite so easily and wasn’t in hand until shortly before the finish line. A front pack swim and 3rd fastest ride combined with the second fastest run was just enough to squeak out a 17-second win. “I was totally surprised to win today! There were some talented men on the start line and I’m coming off a mid-season break, but the conditions played into my favor as it was rainy and cold on the morning of the race and I seem to do well when it’s like that. I swam and rode well and came into T2 in 2nd place, three minutes down from the Italian athlete Giulio Molinari”.

 

“I went on the chase and didn’t catch him until 600 meters to go before the finish line – I almost ran out of room! But it felt great to get another win under my belt for 2016.”

According to Collington, “Icelandic weather has proven to be completely unpredictable. Race day was “perfect” by Icelandic standards which meant it was in the 50’s and raining but calm winds. Of course it seems like every race I do is in the rain so I’m over-prepared for these sorts of conditions and I was happy to once again execute a good race under less than perfect circumstances.”

Post race, Collington found time to take in the country and enjoy a little R&R. “Iceland is an amazing country and I had two days to hang out. I’ve done more touristy things than I’ve ever done at a race before! Yesterday a bunch of the athletes drove the “Golden Circle” which consists of four “must-see” Icelandic geological features – the meeting of the European and North American tectonic plates, a hot-spring geyser that bursts up every 5 minutes, a massive waterfall called Gullfoss, and the crater of an extinct volcano that is now a lake. We finished up the day at the Blue Lagoon hot springs relaxing in 100+ degree geothermal heated pools. It has really been an amazing experience.”

Challenge Iceland
July 23, 2016

Women:

  1. Heather Wurtele (CAN)            4:24:00
  2. Radka Vodickova (CZE)            4:28:21
  3. Haley Chura (USA)                    4:32:14
  4. Tine Deckers (BEL)                   4:36:02
  5. Carina Brechters (GER)            4:39:36

Men:

  1. Kevin Colington (USA)              4:00:15
  2. Giulio Molinari (ITA)                 4:00:32
  3. Justin Meltzer (USA)                 4:03:31
  4. Tim Don (GBR)                          4:08:03
  5. Allan Olesen (DEN)                   4:08:47