A spectacular coastal race course and high temperatures saw both Steven McKenna (AUS) and Laura Dennis (AUS) dominating the second edition of IPPGroup CHALLENGEVIETNAM.
With a near start to finish victory, McKenna already took the lead in T1 from Taiwan’s Chang Tuan Chun and with the best bike split in the race, he was first to cross the finish line in a time of 4:05:03. This was McKenna’s second CHALLENGEFAMILY race in two weeks after winning CHALLENGEGUNSAN-SAEMANGEUM on June 30th.
In the women‘s race, Dennis dominated the event right from the swim and kept her lead on the bike course ahead of fellow Aussie Lisa Tyack, who later came second. Dennis had the women’s best swim-bike-run splits to win in a time of 4:31:34.
CHALLENGEVIETNAM 2019 kicked off at 06:05 am with a spectacular beach start for both professionals and age groupers in the ocean waters of the South China Sea. The professional men were first to enter from the beach of Nha Trang in a 2-loop triangular swim course. Taiwan’s Chang was the first Pro out of the water in 26:44, but was closely followed by McKenna. McKenna was first out of T1, and immediately pulled away from Chang. It was in the hills of Nha Trang that McKenna was able to increase his lead. His 2:11:41 bike split was nearly six minutes faster than anyone else on the field. Chang posted the 2nd best split of 2:17:32, followed by Australia’s Samuel Tebeck at 2:17:42.
McKenna didn’t let up in the run, despite a six minute lead going out of T2. The 21km single loop running course with spectacular beach views, saw McKenna post the day’s best run split at 1:24:34. Despite the scorching temperatures on the run, typical of Southeast Asian weather, McKenna finished strong in 4:05:03.
“I think I had the best race of my professional career. I had a good swim, and when I was first out of T1, I felt I had good legs, had lots of power, and was surprised I handled the heat well, just drank lots and lots of water and electrolytes. It made it easier that the race course was so scenic here in Vietnam. It was a really good day for me”, said McKenna.
Surprise runner-up Chang Tuan Chun of Taiwan also finished strong, had the day’s 2nd best run split of 1:26:10 and finished in 4:12:14. “I was happy with the way it turned out because I did not train well for a half-distance race. I am going into the army after this, so I just signed up before that and was surprised with the runner-up result”, said Chang.
Samuel Tebeck finished 3rd to close the podium at 4:20:08.
Despite a small field in the professional women’s race, Laura Dennis did not hesitate to push the pace, and brilliantly executed a dominating performance. She reached the swim exit after 29:04, and was able to increase her lead on the bike course with a split of 2:30:18. This was eight minutes faster than Tyack’s. A run split of 1:30:16 took her home in 4:31:34, with a margin of 23 minutes and 5 seconds over runner-up Lisa Tyack. Emily Donker made it an All-Aussie podium after finishing third at 5:28:33.
Vietnam is the easternmost country of the Indochina Peninsula, with its white sandy beaches boardering the South China Sea. Because of the year-round warm weather, Vietnam’s beach cities are ideal for both sports and tourism. Subsequently, Nha Trang has become a hotspot for travel and tourism. Hosting IPPGroup CHALLENGEVIETNAM and the addition of the new international airport Cam Ranh has generated a lot of buzz for the tourism industry in Nha Trang.
Having been awarded “Best Inaugural Long Distance Triathlon in Asia” by AsiaTri after its first edition in 2016, the competition doubled its participation this year. IPPGroup CHALLENGEVIETNAM is in its 2nd edition; The race brings out the best in every athlete, and it will become a “must-try” competition for triathletes all around the world.
Photo Credit by: AsiaTri.com/Marvin Manalang