Australia’s Steven McKenna and Kerry Morris were a class above as they won the CHALLENGEISKANDAR PUTERI men and women’s pro athlete races at Puteri Harbour, Johor, today. The 28-year-old McKenna recorded the fastest time in the 1.9km swim/90km bike/21km run event in 3 hours, 54 minutes and 43 seconds in the men’s race, while Kerry clocked 4:21:41 seconds to top the women’s event.
McKenna, a former Australian Rules Football player, led all the way to the finish line for the crown, followed by Italian Domenico Passuello (3:55:48) and Jakub Langhammer of the Czech Republic (3:59:21). It was McKenna’s third victory of the season in the CHALLENGEFAMILY Series after wins in the CHALLENGEGUNSAN-SEAMANGEUM and CHALLENGEVIETNAM rounds.
McKenna, was however feeling anxious at the start of the swim leg of the race when someone told him that there were crocodiles in the Puteri Harbour Marina. “I think that person was joking, but I still felt a bit worried. Maybe, it pushed me a little harder to complete the 1.9km swim leg as quickly as possible,” said McKenna jokingly. The Australian said overall he is happy to have won the challenging race in his first visit to Malaysia. “It is really exciting for me to win here and would like to return to defend my title next year. I think it was really challenging due to the humidity. Nobody likes to race in the heat as it drains you. However, I managed to maintain my pace to clinch the title on this beautiful course. The organisers were amazing in all aspects and were very professional,” he added.
In the women’s race, Kerry was against a tough competitor in fellow Australian Felicity Sheedy-Ryan during the race but the former managed to beat her best friend to the title by over three minutes. Felicity clocked 4:24:53, while compatriot Kate Bevilaqua took third in 4:33:10.
Kerry was understandably delighted with her first crown since returning to the sport from a back injury, sustained when she fell off her bike in training in April. “Felicity pushed me hard during the race and there was no room to switch off. We pushed each other until the finish line. I am glad that she also did well here. I am obviously delighted to win my first race after suffering a fracture to my T12 thoracic vertebrae in April in training. Luckily, it did not require surgery, but I had to undergo rehab to get back on my feet. The CHALLENGEISKANDAR PUTERI is a great race and the organisers took good care of the athletes. I would definitely like to race again here,” said the 31-year-old.
Men’s pro race:
1. Steven McKenna 3:54:43
2. Domenico Passuello 3:55:48
3. Jakub Langhammer 3:59:21
Women’s pro race:
1. Kerry Morris 4:21:41
2. Felicity Sheedy-Ryan 4:24:53
3. Kate Bevilaqua 4:33:10