The Challenge Family European Series was decided in Sardinia over the weekend. On top of that two former short course stars dominated the half-distance in Texas while it was a familiar face taking out Australia’s oldest triathlon.

Text By Mirjam Weerd, Laura Siddall and Rob Sheeley | Images By Finisherpix, ITU Media and Getty Images


Wurtele Wins While Vonsie Claims The Euro Series

Text By Mirjam Weerd

Two titles were up for grabs last weekend at Challenge Forte Village Sardinia. The race was won by Heather Wurtele, while Yvonne van Vlerken secured her European Challenge Prize bonus of 25,000 euro with a fourth place.

The battle for the bonus wasn’t easy for van Vlerken. In the end only ten points separated her and Laura Siddall for the top spot. Siddall finished second in the race and almost stole the cash from the Dutchwoman. But, in the end she had to settle for second place and a 17,000 euro cheque.

Belgian Sofie Goos finished 12th in the race but took third place in the end of series, earning herself 13,000 euro, Heather Wurtele ended up fourth, collecting 10,000 euro and Lucy Charles, who didn’t race, receives a 5,000 euro bonus for fifth place.

Wurtele excited the water with the Spanish Judith Vaquera Corachan. Almost 40-seconds later Siddall, Kathrien Verstuyft and local favorite Marta Bernardi set foot on land.

Siddall showed her customary speed and power on the bike, hitting the front at the 40km mark and leading the field into T2.

It took a fast 1.22.20 half marathon for Wurtele to narrowly claim the win by 50-seconds over Siddall, who claimed yet another podium.

Bernardi followed almost 10-minutes later to finish third ahead of a hard fighting van Vlerken who didn’t have a great day. Corachan finished fifth followed by Belgian athletes Tine Deckers, who had a fantastic season, and Verstuyft.

The race on the Italian island of Sardinia was overshadowed by the death of a Dutch 54-year lawyer. He suffered a heart attack in the swim. Our thoughts go out to his family.

Challenge Sardinia 2017 Results

Wurtele Heather


Sidall Laura


Bernardi Marta


Van Vlerken Yvonne


Corachan Vaquera Judith


Deckers Tine


Verstuyft Katrien


Kumhofer Simone


Krivankova Simona


Zelinka Gabriella


(c) Getty Images

True Too Good In Texas

Text By Rob Sheeley

Sarah True notched up her second career half-distance title on the weekend when she won Ironman 70.3 Austin against quality opposition.

The American, who finished third at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship, defeated half-distance debutant Paula Findlay by almost two minutes with Jeanni Seymour a further three minutes away in third.

True, who boasts two WTS career wins, has made a successful transition to half-distance racing in 2017. The 35-year-old has won twice and landed a number of podiums, including fourth at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Chattanooga in September.

The swim was tight with Jen Spieldenner leading a triumvirate out of the water, which also included True and Seymour.

The bike saw big moves from Christen Brown and Melanie McQuaid who both rode themselves into the picture, with Brown narrowly leading the field into T2. Amazingly, the first six athletes were just 46-seconds apart at this stage with True, McQuaid, Spieldenner, Findlay and Seymour all within striking distance.

True was outstanding on the run, laying down a slick 1:19:25 to take the race away from her rivals.

Findlay could not have been more impressive on debut. The Canadian ran just 53-seconds slower than True to sound a warning to future rivals that she may well be just as successful at long course racing as she was on the ITU circuit.

Seymour’s effort to hold third was impressive, with the ultra-consistent South African saying on social media that she struggled in the unusually cool conditions in Texas and had to tough it out despite feeling well below her best.

Ironman 70.3 Austin 2017 Results

Name Country Swim Bike Run Finish
True, Sarah USA 0:25:23 2:33:32 1:19:25 4:21:18
Findlay, Paula CAN 0:26:03 2:33:22 1:20:18 4:23:02
Seymour, Jeanni ZAF 0:25:22 2:34:14 1:23:42 4:26:35
Spieldenner, Jennifer USA 0:25:21 2:33:27 1:27:14 4:29:48
Brown, Christen USA 0:27:31 2:30:46 1:29:22 4:31:27
Mcquaid, Melanie CAN 0:28:29 2:29:30 1:32:22 4:34:32
Davis-Hayes, Cecilia USA 0:34:11 2:28:52 1:28:31 4:35:48
Van Der Merwe, Natasha USA 0:29:49 2:35:55 1:28:17 4:37:59
Ramsey, Lenny NLD 0:36:15 2:36:57 1:24:49 4:43:57
Higgins, Brittany USA 0:29:53 2:41:14 1:30:41 4:46:51
Smith, Kearci USA 0:28:45 2:42:58 1:31:21 4:48:07
Oliver, Brittany USA 0:27:11 2:48:45 1:32:47 4:52:49
Shannon, Caroline USA 0:32:16 2:54:20 1:41:39 5:14:54
Parubocha, Kateryna UKR 0:35:31 4:13:50 2:05:29 7:00:37

Gentle Grabs Her Third Nepean Title

Text By Laura Siddall

Ashleigh Gentle went back-to-back at the Nepean Triathlon on the weekend, taking her total wins at the race up to three. Gentle’s win comes off the back of a great ITU season and sets her up well to defend her title and multiple wins in Noosa next week.

Gillian Backhouse proved she’s continuing to get better and better, hanging with Gentle for much of the race to finish in second with Natalie Van Coevorden in third.

The three women exited the water pretty much together, Van Coevorden leading out with Backhouse right behind and Gentle a further six seconds back. Felicity Sheedy-Ryan was under 30-seconds back.

On the bike, which this year included a technical section through an industrial area on each 15km loop, Backhouse posted the fastest time, but wasn’t quite match the pure speed of Gentle on the run. She did to hold off Van Coevorden to maintain the silver position, with Van Coevorden in third and Sheedy-Ryan in fourth.

Gentle also received a nice bonus of $1500 when she took out the handicap event by staying within 8:42 of the men’s winner, Aaron Royle.

Nepean Triathlon 2017 Results

18 Ashleigh GENTLE (1) 01:35:56 00:14:12 00:01:17 00:45:20 00:00:38 00:34:27
19 Gillian BACKHOUSE (4) 01:37:00 00:14:06 00:01:14 00:44:59 00:00:35 00:36:02
22 Natalie VAN COEVORDEN (2) 01:38:18 00:14:05 00:01:17 00:45:29 00:00:38 00:36:46
28 Felicity SHEEDY-RYAN (3) 01:40:16 00:14:38 00:01:28 00:48:48 00:00:39 00:34:42


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