30 JUNE 2014 – Challenge Family arrived in the USA today as the first Challenge Atlantic City took place in near perfect conditions in front of a crowd of thousands. Sweden’s Fredrik Croneborg and US athlete, Laurel Wassner took top honours in an action-packed day.
For Croneborg, it was catch up time for the first part of the race. He exited the water six minutes down from Dylan McNeice (NZL) who in typical style was over five minutes ahead of the rest of the field into T1 in 47:24. McNeice held onto that lead until half way through the bike when Christopher Boudreaux (USA) took over, quickly putting over five minutes on McNeice. By the 82-mile mark, McNeice had clawed back three minutes but in T2 it was Boudreaux who was first out onto the run course, with Croneborg sitting back in fifth.
Slowly but surely Croneborg starting chipping away at the 6:54 deficit on Boudreaux until he took the lead at around the 12-mile mark. But hot on his heels was local Jersey boy and 2:43 runner Scott DeFilippis, buoyed by the massive support from his hometown crowds. DeFilippis took the lead from around 13-16 miles before Croneborg reeled him back in and took the win in 8:31:47. DeFilippis finished in second in 8:37:56 and Boudreaux rounded out the podium in 8:40:56.
“This is the biggest achievement in my career,” said Croneborg. “This is my distance as I’m built for endurance rather than speed. My strength is that even if I get tired, I can still keep the pace. I think that’s what gave me the win today; I was able to keep the pace for the last 10-15k. The course was great, especially the boardwalk. When Scott caught me I thought my race as over as he is such a strong runner but my hope was that he had to work really hard to catch me. I was patient and managed to stay 20m behind him and it paid off.”
In the women’s race Laurel Wassner led from start to finish. She had a less then ideal build up being sick for the two weeks prior to the race but this didn’t stop her taking her first long distance win in only her second race at this distance.
Her 58:37 swim put her nearly seven minutes in front of Meghan Newcomer (USA) and Jacqui Gordon (USA) who exited the
water together. In her own words, she took the bike “conservatively”, not wanted to blow up on the run. This was until the 100 mile mark when Gordon caught her and there were just 30 seconds separating them as they headed out of T2. After just three miles, Wassner had extended her lead once more to just under four minutes and took the win a comfortable 24:51 ahead of Gordon in 9:29:20. Natasha van der Merwe rounded off the women’s podium in 9:58:13
“It’s really special to win a home turf race,” said Wassner. “When this race was announced, I said I as definitely going to do it, even though I don’t really do this distance. I wasn’t really well the last couple of weeks but I wanted to stick it out, I felt really great today. I really enjoyed it, the crowds were great, all sorts of people were out there cheering!”
The inaugural Challenge Atlantic City saw 1,500 athletes take part in the full distance, relay teams and aquabike events and culminated in a spectacular light show and finish line grand finale on the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk in front of tens of thousands of spectators.
Atlantic City 2015 will take place on Sunday 28 June 2015 with entries opening tomorrow, 30 June. For entries and full 2014 results, visit www.challengeatlanticcity.com.