Britain’s Fenella Langridge was the impressive winner of a dramatic race at Challenge Salou 2022 on Sunday, one which was switched to a duathlon for safety reasons.
A polar front saw water temperatures plummet and there was further big news before the event even got underway as IRONMAN World Champion and pre-race favourite Anne Haug was a last-minute withdrawal because of illness.
But Langridge, whose main early-season target is the IRONMAN World Championship in St George on May 7, took it all in her stride.
She’d swapped the lead on the bike with Lisa Norden (SWE) and Els Visser (NED) and that trio looked to have it between them on the second run, but a devastating move from Langridge settled matters and she crossed the line in 3:50:41, almost two minutes ahead of Visser, with fellow Brit India Lee keeping on well to round out the podium places.
“Obviously with it being a duathlon – the swim is normally my strength so I didn’t know where I was going to be,” said Langridge afterwards. “I’m proud that I’m able to run like that off a bike ride which was really solid.
“Lisa and Els got out of T2 before me but I knew I should be able to run faster from previous races but you just never know. I kept it conservative to start with but then I caught them and put in a little bit of a dig – and luckily that was history!”
Next up is St George, with Langridge adding: “Obviously it’s going to be a really competitive race but I think anyone can be up there in the top five. Hopefully I’ll be at the pointy end.”
Run 1 – Norden leads the way
A polar front meant that temperatures were just 4C under clear skies and the 13C in the water saw the event switched to a duathlon for safety reasons.
That meant the swim was replaced with a 4km run loop and it was Norden who led into T1, though there was virtually nothing between the top 10.
Bike – Tight at the top
Norden was the early leader on the first lap of three on the bike, with Visser emerging as her closest challenger.
Langridge, Lucy Byram and Lee were third, fourth and fifth respectively at the end of that opening loop.
But things changed on the second of the three laps as Langridge took over the lead ahead of Visser, with Norden dropping back to third – but the three were still closely matched and the lead changed hands several times.
Run 2 – Fenella’s decisive move
That pattern continued on the half marathon, before Langridge made her decisive move.
She’d bided her time before making the catch, but put the hammer down as soon as she jumped past.
She explained afterwards: “I saw I was catching them slowly on the first half of the lap and on the first turnaround I just kicked and kept going.
“All through that last lap I was saying don’t do anything stupid! I tried to stay as in control as I could, kept my own pace and when I turned the corner, I realised I had actually won. A great way to start my year, that’s for sure.”
Behind her Visser kept on strongly for second, albeit nearly two minutes behind, while Lee came through for third as Norden dropped back to fifth.
Challenge Salou 2022 Results
Sunday April 3, 2022 – 4km run / 85km bike / 21km run
- 1. Fenella Langridge (GBR) 3:50:41
- 2. Els Visser (NED) 3:52:36
- 3. India Lee (GBR) 3:53:09
- 4. Elisabetta Curridori 3:54:18
- 5. Lisa Norden (SWE) 3:54:37