The Best Moments of 2023…….According to our Core Team

2023 was a year full of spectacular highlights. We raced all over the world and witnessed incredible performances from the best professional athletes in the world, and equally from enthusiastic and passionate Age Groupers. Picking out the best moments is almost impossible to do, but we asked our Core Team about the moments that stood out for them this year. Below you’ll find their top three for each person (though some had to add just a couple of extra ones!).

Jort Vlam (CEO)

– Magnus Ditlev and Daniela Ryf with their record breaking day in Roth.

– Menno Koolhaas taking the European title at Challenge Almere-Amsterdam in new course record (7:36:36).

– The victory of Youri Keulen in Barcelona: that was so impressive to see and especially because that race was a very important milestone for Challenge Family. Such a big race right through the centre of Barcelona, past the Sagrada Familia and the finish at the spot where the 1992 Olympics were held. Challenge Barcelona had a stunning field racing, including the best athletes in the world, but also so many people doing a triathlon for the first time. That’s exactly what Challenge Family stands for.

Note: “At the same time, I am now selling a lot of athletes and races short. For example Els Visser as European Champion in Almere, the bizarre sprint finish between Mathis Margirier and Mika Noodt during Challenge Vieux-Boucau, the anniversary edition of Challenge Taiwan with as absolute highlight no less than 1200 participants at the Junior Challenge. Participating as a Core team also remains a wonderful memory. In addition, the first edition of Challenge Istanbul with a spectacular swim in the Bosphorus, which was closed to shipping, and a bike course on both Asia and Europe. Challenge Samarkand where we made history at a historic site along the old silk route, and to be honest I could go on. 2023 was a year to never forget.”

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Magnus Ditlev wins Challenge Roth (Heike Liedtke / Challenge Roth)

Zibi Szlufcik (President of the Board)

– Seeing Els Visser cross the finish line in tears at Challenge Almere-Amsterdam, where she became European Champion Long Distance.

– The truly welcoming experience of the entire Core Team at the world’s biggest and greatest triathlon: Challenge Taiwan.

– The epic finish at Challenge Vieux-Boucau, where Mathis Margirier ran past a falling Mika Noodt only in the last metre. The footage of this epic moment went around the globe and was shown by the biggest news channels worldwide.

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Richard Belderok (CTO)

– The Challenge Vieux-Boucau finish

– The impact of Challenge Family’s World Bonus on the career of the pro athletes

– The record race at Challenge Roth: both Magnus Ditlev and Daniela Ryf were from another level that day.

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Belinda Granger (Pro Athlete Liason)

– Challenge Roth. I have been either racing or working at this event since 2004. This year’s race was incredible with both the male and female race records being smashed. Magnus Ditlev taking Jan Frodeno’s record and Daniela Ryf taking Chrisie Wellington’s record which had been standing for 12 years! Having both Jan and Chrissie there on the finish line to greet them was the icing on the cake.

– The Championship. I love this event, not only because we always get a great pro field but because the venue itself is so perfect for Triathlon. I love how it brings all of the athletes together and we all get to stay in the one location. This year the pro men’s race saw a new star born. Mathis Margirier (who would go on to win our World Bonus) took the win and also his first career win as a pro triathlete.

– My third favourite race of the year is a tie between Challenge Samarkand and Challenge Walchsee. (I tried to pick between the two but just couldn’t.)

If someone had told me that we would be holding a race in Uzbekistan when I first started working for Challenge Family, I would have said ‘no way’. To see it all come together and executed to perfection was amazing. Every single pro athlete that raced there messaged me the next week to let me know what an incredible experience they had and how good the race was.

Challenge Kaiserwinkl-Walchsee is a race I have always wanted to get to. All of the pictures I had seen made it look like it was out of a fairy tale book. I finally got to experience the race first hand this year and it was just as I had envisioned…..picture perfect! The race itself is so incredibly well run (Andreas and Ilona Klinger do such a good job) and it was such a great battle between Frederic Funk and Thomas Bishop and also Imogen Simmonds and Lucy Buckingham.

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Juanan Fernández (Quality Management South Europe & South America)

– The fair play in the men’s race of Challenge Vieux-Boucau.

– The exciting run battle between Alistair Brownlee and Youri Keulen at Challenge Barcelona.

– The finish of Kieran Lindars at Challenge Almere-Amsterdam.

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Tim Moria (Editor in Chief Challenge Home)

– I will never forget the first edition of Challenge Barcelona. First of all because it was simply amazing to see thousands of athletes racing right through the city centre of this world-famous city, but also because of the epic battle between Youri Keulen and Alistair Brownlee. It was with goosebumps all over my body to see unfold this battle only at the last kilometre.

– To visit Challenge Samarkand was a huge privilege. The first edition of the race was spectacular, with awesome winners Frederic Funk and Ellie Salthouse. To visit Uzbekistan and witness this race was like traveling through time (in a very positive way) and it was an unforgettable memory to had a day off with a big group of pro athletes and to do some site visits with them in this wonderful city.

– The record race of Menno Koolhaas at Challenge Almere-Amsterdam. Since a very long time the oldest race of Europe finally got a Dutch male winner again and besides that Koolhaas not only took the win and with it the European title Long Distance, but with a time of 7:36:36 he also crushed the course record and noted one of the fastest world-times ever on a Long Distance.

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Josep Balaña Rovira (Partnerships & PM Race)

– Barcelona being back into the series plus in 2023 Challenge Family had five important cities in the series (London, Barcelona, Almere-Amsterdam, Istanbul, Canberra)

– Challenge Roth in general and more specific the finish time of Magnus Ditlev.

– Biggest race in Asian (Taiwan) and celebrating their anniversary all together.

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Victoria Murray-Orr (Global Marketing & Communications)

–  The finish between Mika and Mathis at Challenge Vieux-Boucau without a doubt – the field was packed full of world class athletes and for it to come down to such a thrilling sprint finish was unforgettable. You could hear the collective gasp of the spectators and pretty sure that was echoed on computer screens the world over!

– The run battle between Els Visser and Fenella Langridge at Challenge Canberra – two awesome women and neither giving an inch for the entire 21km. Pretty sure neither were expecting such an intense fight and neither of them had anything left as they crossed the line, a class performance from both of them (also in Canberra, let’s not forget Daniel Bæekkegård who had a meaty high speed crash in the first 10km of the bike, picked himself up and went on to take the win – impressive!)

– Challenge Barcelona for two things: the race between Alistair Brownlee and Youri Keulen was gripping and the wow factor of seeing the athletes riding towards the Sagrada Familia, right in the heart of this beautiful city.