Return to Challenge Roth for unfinished business
Two years ago I went to race at Challenge Roth in Germany
but had a torn achilles and couldn’t start the run – however I did race the
swim and bike and determined I would
return. So two years on and I am not only in good shape, with a big block of training behind me, I am buoyed by being selected to represent GB at the Iron distance European ETU championships in Almere in September. In fact I heard on the Tuesday before I raced Roth.
The words were published just after the race and sum up the nature of Roth splendidly.
Thank you Triathlete Magazine and Brad Culp
for this great article:
“The greatest triathlon in the world took place on Sunday. It might not be the most significant triathlon in the world, and it never will be. Kona will always wear that crown, but Roth has some things that Kona doesn´t. There´s an atmosphere and energy surrounding the entire course that you won´t find anywhere else. The support from the community is almost bizarre. The frenzy around the finish is livelier, although much of that has to do with the fact there´s better beer and food, and typically less heat exhaustion…”
If you’re reading this, there’s a 90 percent chance that you’ll never qualify for Kona. But you can go race Roth, and you should. Aside from the swim taking place in a shipping canal that I wouldn’t swim in more than once per year, Roth is nearly perfect. The professional field this year wasn’t quite as strong as in years past, with the German trio of Frodeno, Lange, and Kienle taking care of their Kona qualification last weekend and Frankfurt, and Daniela Ryf waltzing to a win at Ironman Austria this weekend.”
The local community and German people fully embrace the race, some 250,000 come to watch and the finishing stands accommodate 10,000. And the race experience as a competitor is unreal – with crowds partying and shouting at you as you swim, bike and run. In fact on the bike up a hill called Solarberg the crowd is reminiscent of the Tour de France with raucous crowds 6/7 deep, and a continuous stream of bikes unable to pass each other as they follow a narrow human corridor. It is an experience like no other and made me very emotional even after 85 and 170km cycling across the two laps.
Briefly the swim is in a major German shipping canal – think Trent-Mersey canal and quadruple the size, it is very green and full of who knows what – anyway it affected my sinuses almost immediately. The bike is a rolling 1500m of ascent across the 180km, and the run is mainly flat until the last 6 km when it becomes very challenging / hilly. My calves screamed a great deal in the run, thanks to these hills. The finish in the stadium was an amazing experience and one which I embraced, taking my time rather than dashing for the line.
My time was 11 hours 17 minutes placing me in the top 20% of my Age Group and broke down as:
Swim (3.8km) 1:20:26
Bike (180km) 5:42:22
Run (42.2km) 4:05:45
Overall given the climbs this is my best performance in my 9th ironman, I have gone faster but only just on a much flatter course in Barcelona with a faster sea swim. That said lots to work on as I felt quite sick for part of the bike and all of the run (reviewing my nutrition strategy for my next race).
If you do one Iron distance race, do this one – you will not regret the experience, and the fantastic German spectators and atmosphere. And the Isotonic free alcohol frei beer at the end is a must.