Kevin Collington (center) tops the men's podium at Challenge Iceland. (Instagram)

Kevin Collington (center) tops the men’s podium at Challenge Iceland. (Instagram)

The world first learnt of Reykjavik in Iceland when the volcano spewed ash, but today, it’s home to Challenge Iceland’s triathlon 1.9km swim, 90km cycle and 21km run which tests the mettle of triathletes from around the world.

Heather Wurtele of Canada scored her fifth half Ironman distance of the year, while American Kevin Collington ran the race’s best 21km timing to capture the Challenge Iceland triathlon.

Heather Wuertle (center) edged Radka Vodickova (right) and Haley Chura to win Challenge Iceland. (Instagram)

Heather Wurtele (center) edged Radka Vodickova (right) and Haley Chura to win Challenge Iceland. (Instagram)

Heather Wurtele wins by 4 seconds

Wurtele combined a 4th-fastest 27:32 swim, a women’s by-far best 2:28:26 split on a tough bike course with 3,130 feet of climbing, and a women’s 3rd-best 1:25:45 run to finish in 4:24:00 with a 4:21 margin of victory over Radka Vodickova of the Czech Republic and 8:14 over 3rd-place finisher Haley Chura of the U.S.

Wurtele started her day 3 minutes behind top swimmers Chura (24:26), Carina Brechters of Germany (24:33) and Vodickova (24:35). After her women’s-best 2:28:26 bike split, Wurtele led by 6:21 on Vodickova, 7:14 and 7:15 on Tine Deckers of Belgium and Brechters, and 9:14 on Chura.

Heather Wurtele en route to winning Challenge Iceland (Instagram)

Heather Wurtele en route to winning Challenge Iceland (Instagram)

After her 3rd-best 1:25:45 run, Wurtele gave back 2 minutes to Vodickova’s women’s-best 1:23:46 run and 1 minute to Chura’s 2nd-best 1:24:46 run while gaining 4:45 on Deckers and 8:21 on Brechters.

Wurtele’s victory was her 5th half-Ironman distance win of the year which includes a win at the Ironman 70.3 North American Championship in St. George, Utah and comes after a 2nd place finish at the 2015 Ironman 70.3 Worlds and a win at St. George 70.3 last year.

A beautiful ride at Challenge Iceland (Instagram)

A beautiful ride at Challenge Iceland (Instagram)

Kevin Collington’s run of the race

Collington took a lot longer to run down early leader Giulio Molinari of Italy, who posted a race-best 24:11 swim and race-best 2:15:48 bike split to lead his U.S. rival Collington by 2 minutes, 40 seconds and fellow U.S. competitor Justin Metzler by 6:18 at T2.

After the first 2 miles of the run, Molinari picked up another 10 seconds on Collington but gave back 31 seconds to a hard-charging Metzler.

Tim Don of Great Britain, who began his day 2 seconds behind Molinari on the swim, was off his usual game and gave up 6 minutes on Molinari of the bike leg and another 31 seconds starting the run.

Once Collington got warmed up , he cut his deficit to Molinari by 1:15 in the next 10k and 1:52 on the final 7k to finish in 4:00:15 with a 17 seconds margin of victory over the Italian and 3:16 over 3rd-place finisher Metzler, who closed fast with a race-best 1:15:13 half marathon. Don closed with a 1:19:05 run to take 4th, 7:48 behind Collington.

Collington’s win was his second of the year after victory at Ironman 70.3 Busan. He also took 3rd at Ironman Brazil, 4th at St. George 70.3 and 3rd at Ironman 70.3 Uruguay.

Source: Slowtwitch and Instagram/Challenge Iceland.