Just when you think you're tough enough


Brad Kahlefeldt and Amelia Watkinson conquer sweltering heat in inaugural Challenge Iskandar Puteri victory

Challenge Iskandar Puteri
Brad Kahlefeldt was victorious over Mike Phillips and Dylan McNeice at the Challenge Iskandar Puteri in Malaysia.

In a day of warm waters, threatening rain then sweltering tropical temperatures, it was a hard day at the office for everyone including the professional triathletes at the inaugural Challenge Iskandar Puteri races at the Puteri Harbour Marina in Malaysia.

Lovebirds Brad Kahlefeldt and Radka Vodickova, were all smiles after finishing first and second in their respective categories. Kahlefeldt won the pro-athlete men’s race with a time of 4’00:33 while Vodickova finished just under two minutes behind winner Amelia Watkinson of New Zealand who clocked in at 4’20:33 in the women’s category.

Brad Kahlefeldt en route to winning the Challenge Iskandar Puteri.
Brad Kahlefeldt en route to winning the Challenge Iskandar Puteri.

Kahlefeldt, a former Commonwealth Games gold medallist and two-time Olympian, broke away from New Zealanders Mike Phillips and Dylan McNeice in the run course after being close to each other in the swim and bike course.

“It was a challenging course, especially with the weather but overall it was a good day for us. We pushed hard in the swim and bike part … the run was a bit more mentally challenging because of the open space. I knew the guys behind us wouldn’t be able to catch up after we hit the 10km mark on the run but it was only until the last 4km I felt I was going to win it,” said Kahlefeldt.

Women's podium with Radka Vodickova, Amelia Watkinson and Kathryn Haesner.
Women’s podium with Radka Vodickova, Amelia Watkinson and Kathryn Haesner.

Kahlefeldt took home €5,000 for his efforts while Phillips and McNeice took home €2,500 and €1,550 respectively. Similarly, the women took home similar prize money with Watkinson topping Radickova and Kathryn Haesner. The Challenge Iskandar Puteri offered a total prize purse of €25,000.

Czech Vodickova, who Kahlefeldt is marrying at the end of the year, could have made a perfect finish for the couple but Watkinson broke free in the Run Course.

Challenge Iskandar Puteri swim

“I’m usually able to see him at some stage but I just couldn’t this time because I was struggling, especially in the run. I was just talking to Brad earlier and saying what a pity it was that we could have both finished champions. We had a double win in Putrajaya three years ago and it was a great feeling,” said Vodickova.

“I raced in Philippines last week, under similar conditions as well. I think I had a problem of not being able to recover enough. My muscles were tired and I felt dehydrated,” added said Vodickova.

Local favourite Mohd Helmy finished second fastest Malaysian at the Challenge Iskandar Puteri.
Local favourite Mohd Helmy finished second fastest Malaysian at the Challenge Iskandar Puteri.

Watkinson led the swim course but Vodickova gained on the bike course as the duo build a huge lead over the chasing pack. Haesner, also from New Zealand, finished third with a time of 4’40:46.

“This is my fourth win in Asia and I am starting to think that I love the heat. It’s challenging but I enjoy the challenge and the satisfaction of completing a race. It’s a great feeling being a professional athlete,” said Watkinson.

“I was at her (Vodickova) feet in the first third but she went the wrong way a bit and I was surprised to be in the lead after the swim. She was sitting just behind me on the bike but it was game on in the running.”

Meanwhile, Jason Loh was the fastest Malaysian with a time of 4’48:05 while other Malaysian athletes Mohammed Helmy and Shahrom Abdullah clocked 4’54:42 and 4.55.08 respectively.

The inaugural Challenge Iskandar Puteri – the first Challenge race in Malaysia – saw participants swim 1.9km in the warm waters in the southern part of the Straits of Malacca before a 90km bike course around the newly-built green city of Kota Iskandar, passing Legoland, Educity and other attractions.

Challenge Iskandar Puteri transition

The finishers ended their race with a double loop 21km course around Johor’s new administrative centre, featuring a collection of architecturally aesthetic structures surrounded by natural green landscapes.

Several side attractions such as Muay Thai, Floor Ball, Zoomba, and Titan Challenge plus a Music Fest also took place at the Puteri Harbour Marina.

Photos taken by ToughAsia using the Nikon D7000 and Casio Exilim FR100 for the wide-angle wefie experience. #wefieiscasio #CasioExilimFR100