Great racing today in Denmark's second largest city, Aarhus, saw German Swen Sundberg take his first KMD Challenge Aarhus title in the men's race after a good fight with fellow German Konstantin Bachor. Dane Camilla Pedersen won her second straight title after racing closely together with birthday girl, Jodie Swallow from Great Britain.
1.400 athletes had signed up for the third edition of KMD Challenge Aarhus and were greated by sun at the swim start in Hørhaven. A rather rough swim with waves and strong currents made up for slow swim times, and the Stairway to Heaven, the 86 steps leading up to the swim exit for T1, made this a challenging start to the race.
Local Henrik Hyldelund was first out of the water in 26:17 closely followed by Jodie Swallow and the male chasers Robin Schneider, Jens Petersen-Bach and Konstantin Bachor. Hyldelund later had to withdraw from the race due to a technical. Top Danish female pros Camilla Pedersen and Michelle Vesterby was 2nd and 3rd out of the water a little under a minute after Swallow.
The two laps on the bike course was also a challenging task for the participants with the famous rolling hills and country roads in Aarhus taking their toll on the bike legs.
Duos in front on the bike
In the male pro field, the two Germans Swen Sundberg and Konstantin Bachor took charge of the race and went off in front of the pack, leaving Joe Skipper, Allan Steen Olesen, Esben Hovgaard, Jens Petersen-Bach and Pontus Lindberg to do the chasing.
The two Germans build up a sizable gap on their followers and hit T2 together well ahead of their chasers. It was clear that a German would take the men's title and Sundberg charged hard out of T1 to try to get away from Bachor.
Swallow and Pedersen worked together to get a gap on Vesterby who was the only threat to the two in front as Bella Bayliss and Lisbeth Kristensen were way down after the swim. Vesterby was alone the entire bike section of the race and the duo increased their lead throughout the 90 km.
Mental game on the run
Swallow charged hard to close the 40 second gap Pedersen had starting the run, and she quickly caught up and the two ran together until km 15 testing each other on and off.
In the meantime Sundberg looked to be in control at the front opening up a gap on Bachor. Skipper was in third and a Danish trio og Esben Hovgaard, Allen Steen Olesen and Jens Petersen-Bach were chasing along with Swede Pontus Lindberg.
Sundberg crusied home to take the win after a solid effort - and he is racing again in two weeks at Ironman Frankfurt. Bachor took second and Hovgaard came from behind to run into 3rd when Skipper was fading badly towards the end.
Pedersen finally breached a gap on Swallow and ran home for a second straight win at KMD Challenge Aarhus, Swallow finishing second under two minutes back and Vesterby rounding out the female podium.
The 400 helpers from local sports clubs helped create a triathlon party with the participants and as always the finish line was a great mix of tears, agony, sweat, joy and jubilation.
Camilla Pedersen, female winner:
"The start of the swim was really chaotic so I had to fight the first couple of hundred meters men after that I felt good during the swim. I tried to overtake Jodie Swallow a couple of times but it was impossible to get the lead so I decided to keep my position and take it easy on the swim. Out on the bike it was all about reeling Jodie in as fast as possible. I've raced her a couple of times and I know she is a bad-ass when she's in the mood and she was today. I really had to fight hard today to hang on during the bike. I hoped she would break on the run but she was really tough today. I had a small lead out of T2 but she was really aggressive in the beginning of the run and I held my own pace and hoped she would break. Jodie was really tough today but I was able to pull away after 15 km on the run so it was a tough day but also a really great day and my 1:22 is the fastest I've run on a half distance race. I'm really happy to win again and my shape is good so I look forward to racing Ironman Frankfurt in two weeks where a top-3 will get me the Hawaii slot I'm looking for but I'm aiming for the win."
1) Camilla Pedersen, Denmark - 4:19.32
2) Jodie Swallow, Great Britain - 4:21.16 (+1:45)
3) Michelle Vesterby, Denmark - 4:35.13 (15.42)
Swen Sundberg, male winner:
"I felt great and it was a perfect day for me. I rode very comfortably and Bachor and I took the lead very early in the race so it became a race between us because we had a big gap to the other guys. I know my run shape is very good at the moment, so i started out really fast to see what happened and it worked well. After one and a half loops when I saw him on the third loop I saw the gap was getting bigger over 2,5 minutes, so I tried to save some energy for Frankfurt in two weeks"
1) Swen Sundberg, Germany - 4:01.51
2) Konstantin Bachor, Germany - 4:05.26 (+3:26)
3) Esben Hovgaard, Denmark (+7:18)