A spectacular day today at Challenge Vitoria. The first edition featured 600 triathletes and the stars of the day were Portugal's Pedro Gomes and an impressive Ana Casares, who took the podium in 08:38:36 and 09:52:39 respectively.
Nobody was a match for Pedro Gómes. The Portuguese athlete came out of the water in third position – Carlos López had completed that segment almost 4 minutes ahead of his rivals – and then spectacularly overcame everyone in the bike course, established himself as leader of the race and kept this position throughout the course until he made it to the T2, where he got a comfortable lead, which allowed him to enjoy the run course and make the podium 13 minutes ahead of his runner up, Madrid triathlete Alejandro Santamaría, who finished in 08:51:36.
The fight for the second and third places was a very exciting part of this race, a fight that defined itself in the first kilometers of the run course. In this segment, Alejandro Santamaría made up the last few positions and Carlos López managed to keep his third position and finish the race at a comfortable third place only 50 seconds later.
Pedro Gómes got very emotional about his win, showing a few tears as he hugged his wife under the finish arch located in a spectacular Plaza de España, packed with people. "Racing in Vitoria is truly spectacular, the lake was amazing, the bike course very hard but also thrilling with its landscapes and the run, indescribable. I ran through these streets in a very emotional state, the public did not stop cheering me, they all knew my name! Even Eneko Llanos was there, cheering me up at every lap, it was amazing. I will come back!"
The women race was tight from beginning to end. Although Yvette Grice appeared to be one of the favorites for a podium in the beginning, the British athlete did not manage to maintain her leadership and gradually lost her advantage over her pursuers, finally reaching the T2 in third position. A spectacular Ana Casares arrived first to this transition, and then started a solitary run course, closely followed by Basque triathlete Gurutze Frades, the current Spanish Champion.
Ana Casares, 2010 Spanish Marathon Champion, showed her value in Challenge Vitoria by not losing even a single second to her rival and maintaining her leadership throughout the 42km run.
Gurutze Frades, always a fighter, brought us an exciting run course, fighting every meter to reach Ana Casares while enjoying the crowd's support, giving high fives to all the supporters who reached out to share this great moment with her. In the end, she did not manage to get the few seconds she would have needed to catch up to Ana, but she still got to the finish line with her characteristic bright smile and only two minutes later than the winner. Yvette Grice, despite the eagerness she displayed about racing in Vitoria during the press conference and all her efforts to maintain her leadership, finally did not manage to maintain her advantage and had to make do with a respectable third place.
Gurutze Frades, who already has her eyes on the Long Distance Triathlon Spanish Championship, where she will be defending her title next October, was very happy with the race "It was exciting to see so much public. At times, I forgot about the positions and simply enjoyed touching hands with all the spectators in Vitoria, then I was able to concentrate again to continue fighting to shorten the distance, but it was actually difficult to really focus on the competition with such an atmosphere. I am happy with the race and my result, tired now, but already thinking of my next Challenge appointment."
Challenge Vitoria was also enjoyed by world-class triathlete Eneko Llanos, current European Ironman Champion and his wife and fellow triathlete, Ruth Brito, who did not want to miss a second of this race. "It is a luxury to be able to have a long distance competition in Vitoria, my city. Of course, I would have liked to compete, but I definitely enjoy watching people race on my daily training courses. My dream is that this event is here to stay and we enjoy long distance triathlon in Vitoria for many years."