19 APRIL 2014 â€“ It was a New Zealand double at Challenge Taiwan this weekend with defending champion, Dylan McNeice successfully reclaiming his title while Britta Martin took a defining win in her second long distance victory.
The two races could not have been more different. McNeice led from the start with a 3:28 lead out of the swim over Eric Watson in 46:11. By the time he had reached the 45km mark, he had extended this lead to 6:48 and by the half way point it was a 8:27 with his closest contender being fellow Kiwi, Guy Crawford. However, behind him a pack of strong runners had formed including Jason Shortis (AUS), Fredrik Croneborg (SWE), Till Schramm (GER) and Nick Baldwin (SEY).
Onto the run and Shortis started the chase, quickly moving up into second position and cutting the lead in h
alf. But in the Taiwan heat, Croneborg’s advantage of living and training in Asia paid off and he caught up and so a nail biting battle unfolded in the last few kilometres of the marathon. McNeice managed to just hold on, taking the victory in 8:23:44 a mere 38 seconds ahead of Croneborg and 1:48 ahead of Shortis. Croneborg’s run split was the fastest of the day in 2:56:09.
Highest placed Taiwanese athlete was Yang Mao Yong who last year in his first attempt in at the full distance had to drop out of the race after a mechanical, this year had his revenge and finished a strong eighth place, a lucky number in Taiwan.
In the women’s race, Hillary Biscay (USA) led out of the water in 53:23, a minute ahead of Kate Bevilaqua (AUS) and 4:59 ahead of Martin who exited in fifth. A quarter of the way through the bike, there had been a complete reshuffle with Bevilaqua taking the lead and Martin riding up into second with Australian rookie, Jessica Fleming putting in an appearance in third. By the end of the ride, Martin and Bevilaqua Â were neck and neck with a quick transition seeing Martin exit onto the run first. There she really showed her strength running a 3:04:16 marathon and taking the victory in 9:02:23, a massive 29:03 ahead of second place Fleming. Martin’s finish was an emotional moment as she dedicated the race to her father who tragically died just last week, and it was also her mother’s birthday on race day.
Belinda Granger (AUS) celebrated her 50thÂ long distance triathlon finish with third place, which she fought long and hard for after a disappointing swim, a mechanical on the bike and a duel with her old sparring partner, Hillary Biscay.
“My swim was shocking,” admitted Granger, “But sometimes that’s a blessing in disguise. It makes you kick it up a notch, where when you have a really good swim you can become complacent. So I had to chase from the start. Hats off to Hillary, she was having a storming bike and I didn’t catch her until 60k. Then she stayed with me, legally, until 90k. The only reason I got rid of her is because I knew she would stop for her special needs bag. I don’t use special needs on the bike so I took off like a maniac!”
Asia’s largest long distance triathlon featured over 1,400 triathletes from 40 nations and was another great blend between great Taiwanese culture and friendliness from people of Taitung and the typical Challenge Family spirit!
For full results, visitÂ www.challenge-taiwan.com.
The Challenge Family series of triathlons features 26 full and half distance races around the world, including the world’s largest long distance triathlon â€“ Challenge Roth in Germany. The birthplace of the Challenge Family, Challenge Roth now features over 5,500 athletes and 220,000 spectators and home to both world records held by Andreas Raelert (GER) and Chrissie Wellington (GBR). Since 2002, races throughout Europe, UK, Australasia, Asia, North America and South America have joined Roth. Together they provide athletes with a new experience of long distance racing with a strong focus on athlete and spectator experience, giving back to the community while respecting the legacy of sport and being committed to its continued growth. For further information on Challenge Family visitÂ www.challenge-family.com.
Photo caption: Dylan McNeice (NZL) claims the 2104 Challenge Taiwan title
Photo credit: Darryl Carey Photography