It was a perfect day on occasion of the 10th anniversary of hep CHALLENGE HEILBRONN powered by Audi. The Achilles’ tendon lasted and the shape fitted. Thus, there were again victories for Sebastian Kienle and Daniela Bleymehl. Though, it did not look like a perfect day before. The weather forecast said rain for the race weekend. And the week before, the water temperature was just slightly above the magical 14°C that would have been necessary to allow the swim at all. The weather god was well-disposed towards the triathletes and spared them with thunderstorm and wetness from above. And until the race morning, the water temperature rose to 15.7 °C, this meant obligation to wear a wetsuit for all distances, but also that it will be a regular triathlon.
This was held much earlier during the year and with a lot of innovations. The bike course had to be followed the opposite direction compared to last year and instead of the Challenge Half athletes the ones of the Olympic Distance were the first to start. And something else was different: Heilbronn was host for the German Championships. Extraordinary was also the starting time of the main race of 1.9 km swim, 84 km bike and 21 km run: The men’s pro field was released on 8:20 am, five minutes later the pro women. First out of the water was new local hero Florian Angert, who recently moved to Schwaigern, a town the bike course crossed. Defending champ Sebastian Kienle had a deficit of about two minutes to him, several competitors between the two.
Soon a leading group of three consisting of Kienle, Heilbronn champ 2014 Andreas Dreitz and the former pro cyclist Ruben Zepunkte of Dusseldorf was formed. The latter was in fact biking the fastest split, all three alternated in the lead and were able to break away from the rest. Fastest in lacing his running shoes was Kienle. Leading in the run he never gave away the front and was thus able to defend his last year’s title in 3:45 hours. Behind Kienle the race was exciting: Florian Angert dismounted his bike as fourth and little by little made his way past the others. His work was rewarded with a 2nd place in total. Also Ruben Zepunkte was able to surpass Dreitz and thus completed the podium. Kienle was very satisfied with his race. The Achilles’ tendon, who severely bothered him last year, did not ache at all, biking was fine and the run was perfect.
In the women’s race, defending champ Daniela Bleymehl, last year still competing under her maiden name Sämmler, was able to keep to the front pack right from the beginning. Fastest in T1 was Laura Philipp, also one of the favorites, who surpassed the fastest swimmer Saskia Käs already in the transition zone. On the bike, Philipp did not allow any doubt in her will to add another victory in Heilbronn after her season openening win this year. She was already top of the podium in Heilbronn ion 2015 and 2016. As leader she changed to running but had to stop on the 2nd of three laps due to pain in her leg. Benefitting was Daniela Bleymehl who was able to make her triple perfect. With the 2nd fastest run split and a lead of more than ten minutes she celebrated her 3rd victory in a row in Heilbronn in 4:18 hours. “The water was a bit cold, but I felt really good and I am so happy about the win!” Bleymehl said after the finish. Behind her nothing changed in the list of rankings from bike to finish. Dutch Els Visser finished biking as 2nd and finished the race as 2nd. 3rd became Swiss Corina Hengartner.
In the ranking for the German Championships, the podium of the women looked slightly different: German Champ was Daniela Bleymehl, 2nd became Katharina Wolff of Schwaigern before Saskia Käs from Solingen. The ranking of the men was the same compared to Challenge Half, Sebstian Kienle became champion before Florian Angert and Ruben Zepunkte.
Overall Heilbronn did not only offer the pros perfect circumstances but all of the 2,300 starters. The weather became was warm, the courses were perfectly prepared and in the city as well as along the bike course crowds were cheering for the triathletes on the three distances Challenge Half, Olympic and Sprint distance. A perfect day #inthemiddleofthecity.
All results are available right here.