Challenge Iceland: An all-out sprint for the win!

Jeanni SeymourRace Report

I came to Iceland for a unique experience and to race with no expectations after a quality training block. Without a doubt, the highlight the trip was being able to win on the same day with my boyfriend, Justin Metzler. We train for days like this and being with him to celebrate his first professional win was incredible. We’ve trained together across thousands and thousands of miles and to see that work pay off for both of us at Challenge Iceland was really special.

The water was too cold for me to do a warm up so I made the call to just do my usual 10min warm up jog and entered the frigid glacier-fed water seconds before the gun went off. The start is always a challenge without a proper warm up and I struggled to get going in the first few hundred meters. In these conditions the best course of action is to build the effort throughout the swim and even with this strategy I found myself with frozen fingers and gasping for air as the cold restricted my breathing. I had initially anticipated a bit of a gap out of the water but the point to point swim course and strong wind-assisted current make it tough to get a gap on the field. I still came out of the water first but with three other girls on my feet, including race favorite and defending champion Heather Wurtlele.

I took the extra time in T1 to put on socks, gloves and arm warmers and although I was a bit anxious that Heather beat me out of T1, putting on the extra layers ended up being critical! The bike course in Iceland is one of the most honest, challenging course I have ever done but high, gusting winds made it even tougher. It made it nearly impossible to stay in the aerobars and on some of the descents my focus quickly shifted from going fast to simply staying on the road.

As one of the best riders in the sport, I knew Heather would put some time into me on the bike and as I entered T2, I was unable to get the actual split.

Although I do not like the stress of having to chase down a win, I have come from behind before and no matter what the gap was, I was determined to do it again. I ran as fast as I could, questioning if it would be enough, in the hopes of reeling Heather back in. I was able to see her multiple times on the course which motived me as I continued to close the gap.

photo courtesy of Witsup.com

Despite my efforts, as we approached the final kms I was beginning to think I had run out of real estate. But I have learned that anything can happen in this sport and I continued to fight to the finish line. I dug deep and had to sprint all out in the final 1000m to catch and pass Heather with 500m to go- taking the win and leaving absolutely everything out there on course.

I came to Iceland for an epic experience and to test my fitness in my buildup to the later season championship events. This event was great timing in my IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship preparation where I look to be at my max form for the year. It was a great opportunity to mix it up with a world class athlete like Heather Wurtele and to share the win with my boyfriend Justin Metzler. I am grateful for the places this sport take me and the people I get to meet a long the way. The memories I made in Iceland I will cherish forever.

Thank you to all who support my race career and thank you to the fantastic staff, volunteers, and spectators at Challenge Iceland! Photos by: Challenge Iceland.