The ITU European Long Distance Championship was held on 18th October, within the framework of the Half Challenge Paguera-Mallorca. The triathlon included two events: a race open to all those sports men and women wishing to take part, and the European Championship itself. After a run-up lasting several days, which included a large number of cultural and sporting activities, the event got underway at 12 noon with a total of 1,000 participants. Although it was mid-October, the sea was completely flat and the water temperature around 25 ºC, and therefore the use of neoprene suits was not authorised. Exactly 24 minutes later, a group of 7 competitors emerged, including Pakillo Fernandez, local triathlete Carlos López and the Italian Giulio Molinari.
The bike race was held over two laps of a thrilling yet challenging 45 km course. Molinari took the lead right at the start of the race, gaining a considerable lead over his closest pursuers. By the end of the first lap and on passing through Paguera, Molinari had built up a 4’ lead over the 6-strong group behind him. By the end of the bike segment Molinari was 8 minutes ahead of the rest of the field, after chalking up a partial time of 2:11:50.
The 21 km run took place over 4 laps of a demanding course. Molinari (04:07:38) was able to hold onto his lead and was proclaimed the middle distance ITU European Champion. Runner up was the Portuguese triathlete Bruno Pais (04:12:32), followed by the Spaniards Gustavo Rodríguez (04:14:15) and Alejandro Santamaría (04:15:00) who made great times, coming in third and fourth respectively.
The competition was much tighter in the women’s category. Danish triathlete Helle Frederiksen was first out of the water with a 02:05 lead over one of the main favourites, Lisa Hütthaler.
These two athletes also took the lead over the rest of the field in the bike race, with the German Anja Beranek in hot pursuit. As for the run, Frederiksen started off in the lead but was overtaken by Hütthaler at the twenty-first kilometre, who would go on to take the European title with a time of 04:25:27; 01:54 faster than Frederiksen. Third place went to Maja Stage with a time of 4:44:17. Undoubtedly the best possible debut for the Challenge Paguera-Mallorca, which looks set to become one of the leading late season European Half Marathon events. Photo by Rafa Babot Photography.