Epic sprint finish Challenge Salou, win for Guillem Montiel

Kurt McDonald and Guillem Montiel sprinting to Challenge Salou finish (Picture: José Luis Hourcade / Challenge Family)

It was a rarely seen thrilling finish at Challenge Salou: Spaniard Guillem Montiel and Australian Kurt McDonald pulled off an all-important final sprint in the battle for victory, which was ultimately decided by just a millisecond in Montiel’s favor. Dipping over each other, the two athletes crossed the line in a finish that will not soon be forgotten. In the women’s race, the win went to Aurélia Boulanger.

What happened in the men’s race did not really matter after the finish anymore: that finish was unforgettable, gave everyone in the stadium goose bumps and looked like the only thing that was important after all. The fact that Kurt McDonald had his sights set on the win and was actually in the lead all day – he dictated the bike leg and saw his lead increase to a few minutes – was nice, but could not prevent Montiel from putting things in order during the run. The Spaniard ran his half marathon at an impressive pace and caught up with McDonald just a few kilometers before the end.

Yet McDonald, for his part, did not leave it at that and he clung to Montiel. In the closing stages they didn’t give each other any more ground and after the finish it took some time before the winner was finally known: the final sprint was that close. “I have never experienced this before,” said the winner afterwards. “This was magical. I was completely empty, I squeezed everything out and it was just enough.” McDonald, incidentally, was also satisfied afterwards, although his second place felt ‘bittersweet’. “But we gave the crowd a great show.”

Montiel won the race in 3:43:20, exactly the same time as McDonald. Thomas Davis finished third in 3:44:13.

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The women’s race was led during the swim by Natalie Lawrence, who came out of the water with a minute on Aurélia Boulanger. Halfway through the bike leg, however, the French athlete passed her, and from then on Boulanger would only see her lead increase as well.

Boulanger won the race in 4:15:22. Rachel Brown, who also passed Lawrence midway through the run, was second in 4:20:04 and Lawrence eventually finished third in 4:21:31.