The eyes of the triathlon world are on the German town of Roth this week as over 5,000 triathletes prepare to take part in the world’s greatest long distance triathlon, DATEV Challenge Roth on Sunday 14 July.
As the small Bavarian town prepares for the influx of athletes and over 200,000 spectators, increasing its regular population ten-fold, at today’s media conference the stars of the race gave their comments, predictions and why Challenge Roth has been held in such high regard throughout the triathlon world for so long.
Belinda Granger (AUS) – “By far the greatest long distance race in the world”
Even though it’s my last time here as an individual, I’ll always be involved. I’ll be coming back to be behind the scenes, I just felt that 10 races was a good time to finish as a professional athlete but I can’t not be involved in the future – it is by far the greatest long distance race in the world. I’ll be racing on Sunday, I’m still competitive but we’ve got four of the world’s top women taking part so I’m realistic. I’ve never finished outside the top 10 and hopefully that will stay the same on Sunday! It’s impossible not to enjoy your race here, especially the last 2km of the run; it’s impossible not to smile.
Julia Gajer (DEU) – “Third time in Roth and third long distance race – that says it all”
Truly looking forward to this race, it’s my third time in Roth and my third long distance race so that pretty much says it all. I feel that I’m prepared extremely well so let’s see what comes out of it. It feels as if every year the competition has grown but that doesn’t scare me, and it’s great to compete against such a great field and it’s something to look forward to.
Sonia Tajsich (DEU) – “The highlight of the year”
A victory at Challenge race is still elusive but like all the other girls sitting here, I’m here to win – I’ve really been focused on this race and it is the highlight of the year for me. The plan is to try to keep the gap in the swim as minimal as possible, I will go full throttle on the bike to get ahead and run the marathon from the front.
Yvonne van Vlerken (NED) – “My heart has always been here”
Thanks very much for the opportunity to be here again it feels really good. My heart has always been here, even when racing elsewhere, I call it my German home and it’s great to be back. Sunday wont be easy. All four of us will be very close, it will just be a question of who has the best form on the day. I would really like to get my third win on Sunday
Caroline Steffen (SUI) – “I’ve waited for years to be a part of this history”
I’ve heard so much about this race which is one of the reason why I want to be here. I’ve waited for years to be part of it and I really look forward to being part of this history. Last year I had an 8:35 and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s possible on the fast course here in Roth. It’s always good to be able to compare against the great times that have been achieved here by the likes of Chrissie, Yvonne and the other girls. I’m one of the fastest swimmers and I’m also the quickest on the bike, so yes, it’s certainly possible I’ll come up at the front for the run. This is certainly going to be my tactics as it always is and I’ll try and do this on Sunday as well.
Dirk Bockel (DEU) – “In 24 years of triathlon, I’ve never experienced anything like this”
“I camped here as a boy and saw some of the great races and great duels which is why I decided to come here. It really is the highlight of the year for me. In 24 years of triathlon, I’ve never experienced anything like this with all the involvement of the communities and the district and I’m really enthused about being here. I have my private goals and I want to beat by personal best of 8:11 but looking at the guys next to me they all seem pretty fit and it’s going to be a fast race on Sunday – I hope I can keep up with them! My goal is certainly to finish in the top three.
Maik Petzold (GER) – It’s truly an adventure
Kraichgau was just half the distance, before the race I hoped to finish at the front of the field, but I won! Sunday is different, it’s truly an adventure for me. It’s not something I thought I’d ever try. I’ve supported my dad racing and it was really hard for me to understand why anyone would do anything like this! But now for me it feels like climbing Mt Everest – I’ll try to get up the mountain but I also want to come down healthy again. Right now, this will be my one and only long distance race but I don’t know how I will truly feel until I finish.
Dylan McNeice (NZL) – “This is a whole new world for me”
From 12 months ago when I was going to retire from triathlon, this is a whole new world for me. It’s a good feeling, it’s taken me a long time to get here, I’m happy to be sitting up here and have pressure on me. There are so many good guys racing, it’s going to be really fast and hopefully a sub eight for a Kiwi male. Cameron Brown and myself are both chasing it. But I’m going to stick to my own race plan, put the blinkers on and race my own race. I’ll aim for that eight-hour barrier and if I get close to that, regardless of my position in the race, I’ll be happy
Timo Bracht (GER) – “It’s about everything this race has done for triathlon”
I feel that everything is steering towards this highlight. Over the course of a race you have waves of highs and lows and I hope that my wave will break on Sunday. The Challenge win is missing but for me personally when I think about Challenge Roth I think more about the sport and the support from the spectators and everything the race has done for triathlon as a whole in Europe and around the world so for me it’s about winning this race and everything it represents. I‘ve found the missing percentage from last year and I just have to see if it’s enough. Everyday is a new day and this race will be different from last year. We will have a division on the swim course, some of us have the gold certificate in swimming, others only have the silver or bronze so there will be two groups, unlike last year. On the bike course we’ll be hunting them down and I think it will be a very tight race. I will focus on my own plan, not looking left or right and if I am able to exercise this plan 100%, it will be a great day on Sunday.
James Cunnama (RSA) – “Winning Challenge Roth was a very special day for me”
Last year’s race was pretty near perfect; you don’t have days like that very often. Winning Challenge Roth was a very special day for me. The rest of the season didn’t go as well as I was hoping and then I had a bad bike crash in January but I’ve built back up and I’ve had good races, feeling really fit and build up to this race is good. It’s different coming in having won the race last year – I’ll be a marked man out there. We’ll have to see how this race pans out but last year everyone came out of water together, this year with the gun swimmers that wont happen so it may take off some of the pressure on the bike, I’ll do my race and hope that it gets me across the line twice. Defending the title is much harder than winning for the first time you’re a target. I feel fitter and stronger and better prepared than last year – I’m just going to leave that out there and look forward to the race and hopefully have a bit more than one second to spare when I cross the line!
All the action from DATEV Challenge Roth can be watched live online at www.challenge-roth.com from 6.00am CET on Sunday 14 July.
The Challenge Family celebrates the sport of triathlon through its global series of long distance events and festivals that are changing the face of long distance racing around the world with its focus on athlete experience. Featuring spectacular courses in iconic destinations, Challenge Family events focus on delivering the race of a lifetime to every athlete, and creating a memorable spectator experience that captures all the excitement and emotion of this inspirational sport. The Challenge Family series currently features 21 events around the world including the world’s largest long distance triathlon, Challenge Roth in Germany. Other Challenge Family races take place in Germany, Holland, Austria, Canada, UK, France, Spain, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Taiwan.