I have been working for the majority of my 10 years in triathlon (4 as a pro) to try to get a professional win. On Sunday at Challenge Iceland, it all came together. The day started off on an unpredicted note with a modified swim course due to high winds and choppy waters in the crystal clear glacier fed lake. When racing in Iceland, one can expect cold water and this year was no different with the temperatures ranging between 8-12 degrees celsius (46-54 degrees f).
Despite the chill, I had a strong swim coming out of the water in 3rd position right behind First Endurance athlete Kevin Collington. Coming out of the water with Kevin, an experienced athlete and the defending champion, was a perfect place for me to be.
I was able to make up some time in T1 and got onto the bike in 2nd position. Riding together, Kevin and I quickly realized the biggest challenge of the day would come from the powerful crosswinds blowing at 30-40 mph on the screaming descents around the fjord roads. Kevin unfortunately suffered a crash and had to abandon the race (but he is is OK!). After seeing Kevin go down, I rode very carefully for the next 30 minutes ensuring I did not do the same. I lost a bit of time but was able to keep the bike on the road which at that point was priority #1.
Some of the main contenders caught up to me around the halfway point on the bike (also FE athletes- Trevor Wurtele and Jordan Rapp). I was unable to hold Trevor’s pace but my legs started to feel good on the back half and I was able to ride the final 40km with Jordan back into the transition zone. I felt great on the final 1 hour of the bike ride which I knew would set me up for a fast run.
Again, I made up some critical seconds in T2 and got out onto the run course where I hold the course record. I knew if I was able to execute a similar performance, very few athletes would be able to match my speed.
I passed the early breakaway leader within the first 5km of the run but Trevor and I seemed to be running nearly identical paces with Trevor about 200m up the road. I would reel him in a little bit and then he would dig deep to extend his lead back out. We played this cat and mouse game for nearly 15k of the run and there were multiple times where I thought the win was his. But I never gave up and pushed all the way through this race. Around the 18km mark, I was able to pick up the pace as Trevor faded a bit and never look back to take my first ever professional half distance victory. It was a moment and feeling I will never forget.
I love the process of preparing myself for big competitions like this but nothing can compare to race day. I am motivated by having the opportunity to have the chance to win a race and on Sunday, I was able to do it for the first time in my career. My girlfriend, Jeanni Seymour, is an absolute rockstar and has burst onto the scene in the last 18 months winning a whole load of races. We invest everything we have in the pursuit of excellence and to see all of that sacrifice, work and dedication pay off for both of us is very rewarding.