Lotte Wilms seemed on her way to victory for a long time, but in the last meters of Challenge Shepparton things went wrong for the Dutchwoman; she lost more and more ground on Amelia Watkinson, who passed her in the last two hundred meters and thus kept Wilms from victory. In the men’s race, the win went to Tim van Berkel.
It’s a bitter pill for Wilms to swallow, because after her glorious victory at Ironman 70.3 Geelong (February 20, ed.) she seems to be in very good shape. Last night she came out of the water in front again, when she finished her 1.9-kilometer swim after 24:51 minutes. Grace Thek and Amelia Watkinson were the first pursuers at that point, facing a two-minute gap.
During the bike ride Wilms maintained her lead and also during the run she managed to keep her advantage for a long time. Until just before the end, when Watkinson realized she was closing in and struck in the very last meters. Watkinson won the race in 4:08:38, while Wilms was second in a time of 4:09:02. Thek finished third in 4:13:37. “I had settled on second to be honest,” said Watkinson. “Lotte had a pretty solid lead as usual out of the water. It’s a pretty honest bike out there and it was windy and on the run I guess I kept on pushing. Unfortunately, Lotte had a bit of a rough day at the end but it’s a competition so I made the most of it and pushed to the line in the final metres.”
Men’s race: Tim van Berkel strikesText continues below picture
In the men’s race it was defending champion Max Neumann who was first out of the water in 23:47. Out on the bike, Fraser Walsh quickly took the lead but Neumann stayed hot on his heels and van Berkel started playing catch up. By the halfway point the bike, van Berkel had the lead which is where he stayed, despite a brief challenge from Matt Burton who rode up into second and posted the fastest bike split of the day in 2:02:15. Heading out onto the run, van Berkel went from strength to strength, continually putting time into the chasers. Behind him, Burton was overtaken by Walsh at the 11km mark. Walsh went on to take the fastest run in 1:16:19 earning him second place and Neumann, who had come off the bike eight minutes down, ran a 1:17:47 into third place.
“Today started off pretty rough with a bad swim for me but I got out on the bike and really got to work and took the lead by the turn around,” said van Berkel. “On the run I was in survival mode, it was really tough but the support was amazing out there. It’s great to be back, this is where it all started for me, I did my first race here 15 years ago and it’s so good to be back!”