Over 8,000 athletes lined up this weekend for Asia’s largest long distance at Challenge Taiwan in Taitung and the return of pro racing to the event. Caleb Noble and Amelia Watkinson took out top honours in 3:45:17 and 4:03:40 respectively, both leading from the gun.
In the men’s race, Australia’s Caleb Noble exited Flowing Lake in 24:40 neck and neck with fellow countryman Jack Sosinski with local triathlon hero Tuan Chang 21 seconds down in third. Noble and Sosinski continued neck and neck up throughout the first half of the out-and-back course at speeds averaging 44kph and knowing there was a strong tailwind on the way back, thoughts did turn to a potential course record. However, Noble dropped his chain with just a couple of kilometres to go. Sosinski rode away but was no match for Noble’s power on the bike and he was soon recaught. With temperatures and humidity rising, the two lead men exited T2 together, but within 5km, Noble had a one minute lead over Sosinski, which he continued to extend to take the win in 3:45:17, just 15 seconds shy of Jan Frodeno’s 2018 course record. Sosinski crossed the line in 3:48:31 while hometown hero, Tuan Chang rounded out the men’s podium in 3:53:40.
“Taiwan’s awesome, everyone is so welcoming, especially the triathlon community here,” said Noble. “The bike was awesome but getting off, it was really hot – those run conditions are brutal and I kept saying to myself just hang on, hang on. I’m always getting seconds and thirds so it feels really good to get a win.”Text continues below picture
Amelia Watkinson (NZL) showed her dominance in the swim, exiting the water in 28:24, a clear 1:30 ahead of Dimity Lee Duke and she never looked back. Her lead was never under threat and she entered T2 having extended it to 14 minutes, overtaking the tail end male pros in the process. Always looking comfortable on the run, Watkinson took the title of Challenge Taiwan champion 2023 in 4:03:40. Just as Watkinson’s lead was never in question, neither was Duke’s second place and she crossed the line 24 minutes down in 4:27:34. Cassie Heaslip completed in the women’s podium in 4:37:30.
“I really wanted a good hit out and this race was a good opportunity, I love racing in Asia, it’s a great race, really well organised and I had a lot of fun,” said Watkinson. “The goal was to push the back third of the bike and the back third of the run and I was really digging deep. Racing alone is a different dynamic – when it’s a solo affair you’ve really got to find something inside and remind yourself what you’re here for and what you want to get out of it.”