Guten Morgen! Greetings from Roth, Germany – Part 2
So, we explored Nuremberg in my last postcard, but now I’m bringing us back to Roth to recap what was another awesome week. You just can’t go past this week and try to ignore it.
For the first time in the history of the race, 36years, a local Franconian won, Andreas Dreitz. Not only was Andi a popular winner as a local, he’s also part of the Erdinger Alkoholfrei Triathlon team, and Erdinger Alkoholfrei also have a long supporting partnership with Challenge Roth. So there were a lot of happy Germans! Jesper Svensson had led out the water and for much of the bike, and then also finished strongly to take second, ahead of Cam Wurf in third.
On the women’s side Lucy Charles-Barclay lead from the gun to take the win she missed last year. It was an impressive display across the board, with Lucy posting a time that puts her as the fourth fastest in Roth history, just behind Chrissie Wellington and Daniela Ryf, as well as the second fastest British woman ever (again just behind Chrissie). Sarah Crowley became the fastest Australian female over the iron distance, finishing in second, with last years winner, Daniela Bleymehl, in a last minute decision to race, coming in a very impressive third.
However, Roth is a fun packed week with so much going on, there’s some other big races we should cover off in this postcard!
The unofficial, official opening to Challenge Roth, The Erdinger Party held on the Thursday night, where it’s a chance to see the Pros dress up in traditional Dirndls and Lederhosen. Or feel free to bring your own and join in as well. The more the merrier. This year the event had a twist as a team competition was on the mentioned. Three teams, led by Ralf Beyer (Mayor of Heideck), Felix Walchshoefer and Hans Raithel (Deputy Major of Roth), then each had two Pro Athletes, or a Pro athlete who was racing, and then perhaps a non racing Pro, or an ex Pro! Round one was the Beer Hold. The three team captains had to hold a stein of beer straight out for as long as possible. Round two was the perfect beer pour from bottle to glass and round three was the beer drinking! (Please note this is Alkoholfrie beer!)
Temperatures were high for the week, as Europe was mid Summer and experiencing a heat wave, so there was the risk that the swim would be non wetsuit for everyone.
However, the team were working hard to ensure the water temperature dropped by race day, at least for the Age Groupers. Well some of the team were working hard!
Another huge event at Challenge Roth, takes place on Saturday, and is the Challenge Women 5km. Run, jog, walk, dance however you’d like, with your 3000 friends, to make it round the 5km, which takes the participants up into the woods and trails around the Challenge Roth race site. It’s definitely for me, one of the highlights of the week, and this year I was able to run wearing my Mum’s bib. It’s an event for everyone, whatever age, or speed you want to go. You can be as competitive or as social as you like, or both! It’s just an amazing uplifting feeling and an ocean of pink t.shirts spreading over Roth, is always a pretty good sight.
Another massive event is the Junior Challenge, where hundreds of kids to swim-run or swim-bike-run to their own finish line! It was the first time I’ve been able to get down to see this race and boy was the energy and atmosphere pumping! Definitely a few little legends in this race, and perhaps champions of the future, but it was just amazing to see so many kids, all having a go, smiling all the way to the line and having fun.
To give you a better insight into this event, I called upon my roving reporters again, Finley, Emilia and Jackson, to give us their thoughts, and the low down.
Sid: What did you have to do for the race?
Finley: It was a swim, not a bike but a run. There were mostly girls in my lane. I had to swim 1 length (50m). I had to run over a hill, go into transition, put my shoes on, leave my goggles in the box, leave my hat at the red arch and run around the ball court then onto the finish stage. I was racing with the number 1 bib!!!
Emilia: A swim, bike, run which is a triathlon. I had to swim 2 lengths (100m) of the pool with 3 other people in the lane. We had to swim on the right side so we didn’t crash. We had to get out and take off our hat and goggles. I ran to my bike on put on my shoes, number belt and helmet. I grabbed my bike and went on a 3k bike ride. It was on closed roads and it was fun. Then I had to jump off my bike, take off my helmet, swivel round my number and then run around a volleyball court and over the finish line. It was exciting and fun.
Jackson: We swam and then we ran to our shoes and then we ran to the finish.
Sid: Were you nervous?
F: Mostly not, but kind of at the start
E: I was nervous just at the start but once I got swimming I forgot about it
J: I was nervous because I didn’t know how fast the other kids were.
Sid: Best bit about the race?
F: I loved the run and I shot off like Usain Bolt
E: I loved the bike because I love going really fast downhill
J: My favourite part was the run.
Sid: Worst bit about the race?
F: At the start because the gun was very loud and a bit scary
E: I think the swim because it felt like it was everlasting
J: My least favourite was getting kicked in the face in the swim
Sid: Did the volunteers and helpers speak English to you?
F: Before I started the Helfers spoke to me in English. They were really nice.
E: Yes, when they realised I spoke English
J: Everyone spoke German, so I just went as fast as I could
Sid: Did you have fun?
F: Absolutely! It was as much fun as I have at Christmas
E: Yes, definitely because I love swimming, bike riding and running and doing the race and hearing the cheering
Sid: Will you do another Junior Challenge?
F: Definitely! I might like to go back next year or whenever I can
E: Definitely because it is so much fun
J: I would love to do another Challenge.
Sid: What’s next for you in your sporting career?
F: I’m going to keep up with swimming lessons with Melvin, I’m looking forward to riding my bike at the skills park in Scotland, I’m excited for a water sports week with my cousins in the summer and I’d like to learn some golf.
E: I’d like to take part in a junior Park Run, join Alnwick Harriers and represent Alnwick Dolphins in a swimming gala
J: I’d like to do another race in another country
For me, it was quite a different year, with not racing, but an experience that allowed me to be involved in so many of the events and activities that go on in race week, most of which I’m normally unable to attend. So, it was a lot of fun being involved in that side of the race and seeing of the behind the scenes and organisational side of an event like this.
On race day, I was following the Pro Men on a motor bike, providing the Twitter updates and also feeding back to central HQ for all social media and to the live broadcast studio.
It was incredible to see the race unfold from a different perspective, that being the back of a motor bike. Really being able to appreciate the volunteers out on course or in transition, and all the officials marshalling the road. To be able to really take in the A M A Z I N G crowds all the way round, was pretty special. Solarer Berg is just simple out of this world crazy!
I don’t think any images or videos really capture what an incredible experience it is! However, this year I noticed it’s not just Solarer Berg. The hill down at Greding is also packed, and now the climb just before you get to Hilpostein is pretty much single file like Solarer Berg as well! It’s just amazing how more and more people come out every year to support this race! The locals love it!
The run was no different really, with crowds packed through the centre of Roth and out to the canal, and then out the other side towards Buchenbach. I think this is one of my favourite places on the course. To me it’s like the Solarer Berg of the run course! It’s mental. You emerge from a rolling few kilometres through the woods, to this wall of noise as you run down into this little village. Centre piece is the pond, and with the packed crowds and noise, it’s almost like you get catapulted around here, and flung back towards the finish.
The finish line at Challenge Roth is one of the most magical. Of course, all finish lines are special and deservedly so, but there’s something about the stadium at Roth, and the cauldron of energy that just builds and builds throughout the day, that as the sun sets and the flares, flames, glow sticks, lights, and more come alive, it’s just a special place.
The fireworks at the end of the day, are worthy of ones that match Sydney’s at New Year! A magical way to end what is always a simple fantabulous day!
The racing isn’t over when the fireworks hit the sky! There are few more important events that take place in Roth. First up is the race to line up to secure your slot for the following years event. On Monday morning, Challenge Roth, give out the first 1000 people a slot. People start queuing up before the race is even over on Sunday night! It’s an amazing site and a testament to the crazy fans that Challenge Roth has created! Ha Ha! What’s also impressive that the team in Roth, come out and make sure everyone has blankets (if need), or food and drinks throughout the night. There’s lots of little things like this that go on behind the scenes that most people don’t see, about how incredibly well Roth looks after it’s volunteers and workers. It’s pretty amazing, and well that’s just what the team in Roth are about! That’s who they are!
Monday, is full of awards, and culminates in a massive thank you party for the 7500 volunteers. The Pros come along, which is a huge highlight for the volunteers, as they line up for autographs. As well as, I reckon, there is a prize draw giveaway for pretty much every volunteer! It’s mental! And these are legit certified awesome prizes for the volunteers. After the volunteers party, it’s time for the final race of the event… the infamous Table Run… however you’ll have to make sure you’re there in 2020 to find more about that one!
Challenge Roth, just A W E S O M E. whilst I was of course gutted not to be racing, I had an absolute blast and was able to see a side of the race and have a completely different experience, one however that I’m incredible grateful for. A huge thank you to everyone who made this happen.
Rest assured… I’ll see you on the start line in 2020!
Don’t Die Wondering