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Wed 24th Apr 2019
Henning and Ledesma take Challenge Fuerteventura
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Saturday 30th April 2011

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The Canary Island of Fuerteventura and the sporting training destination of Playitas ( played host on Saturday to the inaugural running of the half-iron distance Challenge Fuerteventura, a suitably tough course for the name, and the latest event from the fast growing Challenge Family.

As noted in our weekend preview piece, Denmark's Rasmus Henning - wearing bib #1 - was the pre-race favourite and marquee name for this one. Aside from having scored two high quality second place finishes in Ironman 70.3 races in the U.S. already this year in Oceanside and Texas, Rasmus has been living and training at Playitas for the past six months - no travel, accommodation or getting to know the course issues for him. Could anyone else challenge the man we think has the potential to become Ironman World Champion?


The 1.9km sea swim from the Playitas resort beach saw Rasmus lead fellow Dane and training partner Martin Jensen from the water with Jersey's Daniel Halksworth (a 2011 recruit to teamTBB) on their heals, and Stephen Bayliss just a few seconds further back but in touch with the leading trio. Everyone else, bar Jonas Djurback was already two plus minutes back, including Dion Harrison (8th at 2:13), Nick Saunders (11th at 2:21), Jonathan Hotchkiss (14th at 3:11) and Joel Jameson (19th at 4:01). No surprise to see those gaps at the front, as Henning, Jensen and Bayliss were among those who pushed the pace and broke up the field in the swim at the Abu Dhabi International in March.

The leading four stayed pretty close together through most of the bike leg, before Martin Jensen - perhaps knowing he couldn't out run his training partner - managed to gain a gap of 90 seconds or so into T2, arriving ahead of a closely bunched Henning, Bayliss and Halksworth.

Jensen is a quality athlete - twice an ITU World Long Distance Championship bronze medal winner - but that margin was always going to look threatened against friend and mentor Henning, and so it proved as Rasmus closed the gap and pulled away to secure a 'home' win on foreign shores. The organisers and race sponsors Playitas will be pleased to see the winning athlete cross the line first decorated in their logos. Jensen held strong for second with Stephen Bayliss taking a confidence-boosting third place.

Jensen, Henning and Bayliss ©Anita Henning


The ladies were closely packed out of the water with Eva Ledesma (ESP), Edith Niederfriniger (ITA) and Tamsin Lewis (GBR) exiting together just over four minutes behind the leading men. They in turn had a 1:20 gap over Ironman specialists Nicole Leder (GER) and Erika Csomor (HUN).

The leading trio from the swim were equally matched on the bike too, though Erika Csomor did manage to catch and pass the threesome to gain a small margin at T2. However, with less than a minute separating the front four it would be all to play for on the run, with Csomor seemingly having the best running credentials of the leaders, having represented Hungary in the World Half Marathon Championships in years past.

In this case however it didn't play out that way, and Spain got a home winner through Eva Ledesma, with Csomor second and Niederfriniger rounding out the top three positions. Britain's Emma Ruth Smith, a former World Age Group XTERRA Champion ran through to fourth place on the half marathon. Unfortunately for Tamsin, she managed to twist her ankle while passing an age grouper on the course when in third, and was forced (and upset!) to DNF.

Pos Men Women
1st Rasmus Henning (DEN) 4:12:59 Eva Ledesma (ESP) 4:47:14
2nd Martin Jensen (DEN) 4:14:01 Erika Csomor (HUN) 4:49:13
3rd Stephen Bayliss (GBR) 4:14:33 Edith Niederfriniger (ITA) 4:53:28
4th Jonas Djurback (SWE) 4:15:59 Emma Ruth Smith (GBR) 4:16:16
5th Daniel Halksworth (GBR) 4:16:18 Sonja Jaarsveld (NED) 5:05:35

Other top Brits: Nick Saunders (7th, 4:19:02), Joel Jameson (9th, 4:19:27), Jonathan Hotchkiss (11th, 4:23:36), Nicholas Peter Ward Muñoz (12th, 4:24:23). Benjamin Powell (15th, 4:30:03), Dion Harrison (21st, 4:40:31).


Rasmus Henning with children Caroline (left) and Emilie ©Kathrin Walchshöfer.Rasmus Henning said of his win today "I had not won since Challenge Roth last year and with two second places in my two previous races I was eager to win here. It was a race that I should win and I had a perfect day and was on top all the way. I exited the water in front and Martin Jensen and I was almost in front together on the bike all the way. When he broke away late in the bike leg I felt confident in my run so I let him go. He got a 1:30 minute lead out of T2 but I caught him after 5 km and stayed with him until I surged for the win with a few km to go. No need for me to run all out after an April with three half distance races. I had more in me but I only needed to run for the win," Rasmus Henning says.

"It's certainly not the fastest course with all the hills and wind on both the bike and the run and we had to fight the elements today as expected. Those are the conditions on this Island and I'm used to it. Now I look forward to visit Denmark and family and friends the next weeks."






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