&A stellar start list has assembled for the first race of the Challenge Family European circuit of 2017.

Text By Laura Siddall and Jane Hansom| Images By Witsup and Getty Images 


Set on the third largest island in the Canaries archipelago, with impressive unspoilt terrain, it’s set to be a stunning and dramatic course. An ocean swim followed by a bike course that runs the rugged coastline, and a run course that also follows the waterfront. The athletes will need to keep their wits about them though, as the bike course is 4 loops, (one larger loop and three smaller loops), and the run course four laps as well.

Check out the website for Challenge Family Gran Canaria http://challengegrancanaria.com The video that runs in the back ground shows the race course, and wow! It looks spectacular.

Daniela Ryf will start as favourite, even after racing Ironman South Africa a few weeks ago. She’s such an impressive athlete and has shown she has no real issue with backing up from races (completing to full distance events just a week apart in 2016) and has ample of speed over the shorter distance as well.

But this race isn’t just about Ryf, Challenge Gran Canaria has an impressive start list for the season opener, with a strong group of Brits racing as well.

Emma Pallant will be one of the favourites. Part of the BMC Etixx Team, and a World Duathlon Champion, Pallant is a classy athlete and just getting better and better each time she races. It could be a big year for Pallant.

“This must be around my 12th half distance, I think,” Pallant told Witsup.

“I crammed them in last year for good experience and had a nice taste of podiums which saw me sign up to the BMC-Etixx pro triathlon team so its feeling a bit more professional this year.

Its made a massive difference to my nutrition already and their equipment is second to none, I’m extremely fortunate and really grateful to the fab team and our classy sponsors. They work really well with Michelle and Team Dillon Coaching and everything as well as having Hokaone come on board this year has just worked great, they all compliment each other and i have such a brilliantly strong team behind me, this has been my best winter training block to date and now I’m excited to ease back into race mode.

“The plans will be to build up through the season to the World Duathlon Champs and World 70.3 Champs two weeks apart and then head back to the UK for Weymouth 70.3 and then some faster more furious style racing after that.”

Lucy Charles will likely be first out the water, with another British super swimmer Catherine Jameson not too far behind. Both are fast in the water so they will want to stretch the field out here, putting time between themselves and everyone else.

Charles explained that she has learnt a lot in her first full year of racing as a professional.

“It’s a way of life more than anything, learning to be pro in every aspect of your life, not just training and racing. When it comes to racing, no matter who you’re up against it’s not over until you cross that finish line. The strength and depth of women’s triathlon is constantly on the rise so in order to compete you’ve got to constantly up your game.

“The swim is obviously my strength and I’m not willing to let that slip so I train enough in the pool to maintain that level. After being injured on the run for most of last season it’s been great to up my run mileage and feel strong on two feet again. Most of my training is put into the bike and I hope that is going to show this season.”

Another Brit on the start list is Corinne Abraham. Abraham’s had a few injuries to manage over the past year or so, but seems to be getting back on track. She told Witsup that she is looking forward to the race but also has bigger plans down the track.

“The first race is always one to get excited about, and Challenge Mogan / Gran Canaria is a great course. Sea swim, always on a punchy- up or a down hill on the bike, a bit technical with the decents and roundabouts (of which there are many) where plenty of time can be lost, and the run isn’t flat, so it is a great course for some early season strength gains and pushing some intervals in a race context.

“But actually my preparation has been far from ideal. It’s frustrating of course, but my main goals are later in the season so even though this was always going to be a ‘training race’ the disjointed preparations and late arrival of sore throat & chesty cough probably picked up on the plane on the way over has really ‘forced’ me to treat it as such.

“Of course I’d love to be racing – racing and getting the measure of myself, but it’s not going to happen this weekend. Professional decisions are sometimes a bit dull, but big picture has to prevail!”

Abraham’s ultimate plans see her aiming for the biggest stage of all in October, however she is realistic about her goals.

“I’m looking at trying to qualify for Kona, but obviously I don’t want to arrive there smashed, the point is to go there and do well, so the choice of races is a bit flexible depending on how the points stack up (or not!).

“My two early half distances are both Challenge (Mogan/ Gran Canaria and Lisboa, there are no European 70.3) but then the plan is to use these as training for IM Lanzarote in May. The European season really starts to kick off then, so I’ll have a choice of preparation 70.3 races for either IM Austria or IM Frankfurt.

“I’m a bit torn over the Ironman choice, because obviously Frankfurt has the championship points and status (not to mention prize money), but I’ve wanted to do Ironman Austria for years and it is the PEWAG team home race. So we’ll have to see! After that, we’ll count up the points and see where I’m at before outlining the rest of the year.”

Lucy Gossage is also racing. Gossage finished ninth at the Ironman World Championships last year, off the back of breaking her collarbone two months out. Gossage has also returned to work this year as an Oncology Doctor and so is balancing training and her other passion in medicine, and is still finding time to race.

She explains that one of her main motivations for this event was to ensure she didn’t train too much.

“Honestly, my main motivation for racing was to make sure i have an easy week! I’m still not good at taking enough recovery without a race to make me. So I figured a few days off work in the sun with a smashfest at the end would do me the world of good. This is the first big European race on the calendar so I’m sure it will be a pretty stacked field.”

Gossage has her season mapped out with local races being the focus.

“After this and Lanzarote, O’m going to be doing the ‘UK tour’ with as many of the UK and Irish IM branded races as I can. Bolton and Wales are my main targets for the year.”

She will also take on the season on a new steed which is an exciting prospect for the bubbly Brit.

“I’m thrilled to be riding a Simplon this year. The bike course here is right up my street: relentless hills with stunning views! I guess I’m a bit nervous as to whether my legs justify the ride!

“I’m back working three days a week this year and my two lives are so contrasting. But if anything, my ‘proper’ job makes me appreciate how lucky i am to be living two parallel lives. Coming out here to the sun makes the dark wet evening runs round the ring road seem so worthwhile!”

German triathlete Daniela Saemmler will likely also be in the mix. Saemmler is a regular podium finisher so will want to break up the strong British present in Gran Canaria.

 Challenge Mogan-Gran Canaria 2017 Start List

First Name Last Name Nationality
Daniela Saemmler Germany
Daniela Ryf Switzerland
Robin Pomeroy USA
Judith Corachan Vaquera Spain
Sarah Bonner Canada
Beate Gortz Germany
Ewa Komander Poland
Corinne Abraham Great Britain
Sara Loerhr Munoz Spain
Lucy Charles Great Britain
Natascha Badmann Switzerland
Emma Pallant Great Britain
Laura Van den Beucken Spain
Catherine Jameson Great Britain
Nikola Corbova Slovakia
Lucy Gossage Great Britain


About The Author

Rob Sheeley is the Race Editor for WITSUP

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