The 2023 Challenge Wales proved to be an eventful race, witnessing dominant performances from the British duo, Lucy Byram and Tom Bishop. They were victorious in their respective categories, with Byram defending her title successfully and Bishop bagging his third podium finish of the season.
In the men's race, all eyes were on Andrew Horsfall-Turner, one of the sport's best swimmers, who lived up to his reputation by leading out of the water in 25:20. However, Tom Bishop was hot on his trail.
In an unexpected turn of events, Bishop quickly overtook Horsfall-Turner during the transition and started gaining momentum in the cycling stage. Hailing from Derby, Bishop is renowned for his cycling skills, which he put to excellent use. He clocked a 2:12:41 split in this stage, leading the field by over six minutes, before moving into the second transition with a substantial lead over Harry Palmer and Liam Lloyd.
In the running phase, Palmer put forth an impressive performance, overtaking Lloyd, who had begun the half marathon in second place. Palmer posted the fastest split in the field at 1:16:07. Nevertheless, Bishop, running comfortably, triumphed with a lead of over seven minutes, followed by Palmer and Lloyd to complete the men's podium.
The women's race began with Britain's Rosie Weston leading the swim, creating a 40-second gap from the defending champion, Byram. Yet, as the athletes transitioned to the bike stage, Byram quickly seized the lead.
She clocked an incredible 2:27:43 on the bike course, leading her nearest competitor by nearly ten minutes. Entering the second transition, Byram had a comfortable lead and looked set to secure her second consecutive Challenge Wales title.
In the subsequent run, Lizzie Rayner and Renee Kiley of Australia were locked in a close battle for second place. Byram, however, continued her solo dominance and crossed the finish line in first place, having posted the fastest bike and run split. Rayner managed to shake off Kiley to claim second place, with the Australian finishing third.
Post-race, both Bishop and Byram acknowledged the grueling nature of the competition. Bishop admitted that his strategy had been to push hard on the bike course, a decision that ultimately paid off, as he left his competitors far behind. Byram echoed similar sentiments, noting that despite her seemingly easy win, the race was tough.
The final results for the Challenge Wales 2023 were as follows:
- Tom Bishop (GBR) – 3:56:28
- Harry Palmer (GBR) – 4:03:50
- Liam Lloyd (GBR) – 4:09:35
- Lucy Byram (GBR) – 4:25:07
- Lizzie Rayner (GBR) – 4:37:26
- Renee Kiley (AUS) – 4:48:39