Having recently battled a hip injury, Bockel was ecstatic with the win.
"I proved today that I am back," he said after crossing the finish line and taking out the CHALLENGEDENMARK Half. "It's been a couple of up and down months and it took a lot of effort to come back," Dirk told Bob Babbit in a post-race interview.
Bockel was third out of the water in 24:24, just three seconds down on leader Thomas Strange (DEN). He exited T1 in the lead and there he stayed for the rest of the race, but it was not an easy win. Bockel was never more than 1:50 ahead of the chase pack and Strange was certainly not one to give in, reducing the lead to 56 seconds by the time they crossed the line.
Danish triathlete Michelle Vesterby managed to shake Catherine Jameson (GBR) and Mary Beth Ellis (USA) on the women's half distance race, securing a true home victory – in more than one sense.
"That was for my husband," she said, having just crossed the finish line. Michelle Vesterby is originally from Herning – and her husband is the CHALLENGEDENMARK Race Director.
Vesterby had the win in her sights right from the start, exiting the swim in third place behind Jameson and Ellis. However, Jameson proved uncatchable on the bike, heading into T2 2:06 ahead of Vesterby. Vesterby's love for running shone through and by the 6km mark she had taken the lead, which she continued to extend to take the win in 4:19:32
"We have been looking forward to this day for a very long time, and it is so cool to be here today with so many winners; those finishing first as well as all those completing the half- or full distance. We would not be able to stand here today as winners if it weren't for the hard work of all the volunteers and the support from the cities of Herning and Billund as well as Sport Event Denmark," says Race Director Claus Vesterby.
In the full distance race, Chris Fischer (DEN) took out the men's race in a personal best of 8:23:29 having led from the first few km of the bike. The women's race was won by Beate Goertz (GER) in 9:22:28.
The three legends of triathlon, Chris 'Macca' McCormack, Thomas Hellriegel and Luc Van Lierde also made it to Denmark. They teamed up in a legendary relay team that finished fifth.
See Bob Babbitt's interviews with the pro triathletes and video from the race here: http://www.balorama.biz/tv/
1. Chris Fischer, DEN, 8:23:29
2. Dirk Wijnalda, NED, 8:31:08
3. Anders Christensen, DEN, 8:37:04
1. Beate Goertz, GER, 9:22:28
2. Carolin Lehrieder, GER, 9:23:29
3. Jessie Donovan, USA, 9:33:28
1. Dirk Bockel, LUX, 3:51:16
2. Thomas Strange, DEN, 3:52:12
3. Markus Fachbach, GER, 3:52:45
1. Michelle Vesterby, DEN, 4:19:32
2. Mary Beth Ellis, USA, 4:22:15
3. Catherine Jameson, GBR, 4:27:04