In her first race on Australian soil, Hungarian Anna Eberhardt took the win in the closing stages at Challenge Shepparton, ahead of Renee Kiley in second and Holly Kahn in third.

Text by Laura Siddall | Images by WITSUP

 

This year’s race was surrounded by blue skies and sunshine, a relief for athletes, spectators and organisers after the past two years of cold and rain. It was near perfect conditions for the women, with wind starting to pick up in the later stages of the bike. Unfortunately, pre-race favourite and 2014 winner, Annabel Luxford withdrew from the race part way through the swim having been ill all week, leaving the race wide open for a new group of pro women to have a shot at the podium and the win.

The race was strung out from the start with Claire Davis leading out the water, 80 seconds ahead of Jacqui Allen. Tracey Morrison was a further two minutes back, Holly Kahn a further thirty seconds with Renee Kiley another fifteen seconds after Khan. Eventual champion, Eberhardt, was making it hard for herself coming out of the water in seventh, seven and a half minutes down from the leader (Davis).

Davis rode solo for the first half of the race, but it was Kiley making moves back in the field, moving through the field to take the lead around the 50km mark. Kiley, a new pro since July this year (her first pro race being Challenge Iceland) rode the fastest bike split by five minutes to come into T2 with a commanding lead of almost five minutes. However, a relatively slow transition onto the run, would come back to haunt Kiley on the run and ultimately at the finish line.

Kahn was next into T2 and set about trying to chase Kiley down. Kahn has been a pro athlete for two years but has struggled with injury over that time, so is still a relatively new face to the professional racing.

 

The swim leader, Davis was out in third, a further three minutes back, with Eberhardt having ridden herself up into fourth. Eberhardt was almost nine minutes in arrears to Kiley in the lead and whilst known for being a good runner would have her work cut out to catch the lead. Eberhardt chipped away but was still three minutes down from Kiley, heading into the last of three laps on the run. It was looking like Kiley was on track to claim her first professional win, but as the last seven kilometres passed, Eberhardt was on a mission and the three minutes deficit was quickly disappearing.

 

Within the final kilometres, Eberhardt had Kiley in sight, and with one kilometre to go, moved passed her to take the lead and the Challenge Shepparton title. Eberhardt, lives in Singapore and commented that she actually found the conditions cold to start with compared to the heat and humidity in Singapore! It looks like Australian racing could be good for Eberhardt as she now heads to Ironman 70.3 Western Sydney and prepares for Ironman Western Australia.

Kiley held on to second, making it her first pro podium, just over thirty seconds adrift, and whilst stoked with the result and the podium, will be working on transition speed for the next race. Kahn had a great come back to racing finishing in third.

 

NAME (#) TIME RANK SWIM T1 CYCLE T2 RUN
Anna EBERHARDT (24) 4:33:26 Elite   (1) 0:35:23 0:01:50 2:27:35 0:00:54 1:27:43
Renee KILEY (28) 4:34:01 Elite   (2) 0:32:00 0:02:07 2:22:05 0:01:31 1:36:15
Holly KHAN (22) 4:35:30 Elite   (3) 0:31:45 0:01:35 2:27:07 0:00:53 1:34:08
Claire DAVIS (25) 4:36:33 Elite   (4) 0:27:48 0:01:53 2:34:23 0:01:01 1:31:26
Jacqueline ALLEN (23) 4:41:39 Elite   (5) 0:29:10 0:01:43 2:34:40 0:01:06 1:34:58
Tracy MORRISON (29) 4:43:42 Elite   (6) 0:31:11 0:01:53 2:35:17 0:01:23 1:33:56
Karen TOULMIN (30) 4:54:32 Elite   (7) 0:35:17 0:01:54 2:35:38 0:00:58 1:40:42
Shannon CHAPMAN (26) 5:06:58 Elite   (8) 0:38:45 0:02:32 2:42:31 0:01:30 1:41:38

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