Challenge Roth 2013

Posted by Dylan on 16 April 2014

Roth is everything it is hyped up to be.
From the moment you arrive and are introduced to your homestay to the moment the massive fireworks go off to signal the end of another Challenge Roth year (and the volunteers party and after party!).

The homestay system is great and gives you that home away from home feeling you can often desire while travelling and racing. It is also a necessity for the race as there are only 24 hotel beds in the town of Roth! Racers are spread around the region of Roth in homestays and camp grounds. If a hotel bed is a must, then head to Nuremburg and crash there. It’s not far and the race is reasonably easy to get to from the city.
The expo and entire set-up is massive and it echoes the title of ‘Largest Iron-Distance Race in the World’ where ever you wonder.  The finishing stadium holds some 8,000 spectators and is full throughout the day and night. Police estimates for the total number of spectators out on course on race day were 220,000, a new record, and I believe it. Solarer hill is nuts and that’s all there is to it!

The course is not the free flowing, speed giving, downhill race that so many think it is. The swim is an accurate 3.8, but the smooth canal water and straight lines make for some quick times, while the bike is much tougher than people expect. If you are not having a great day it is a course where your losses will be compounded on the many up and down sections where you need all the power you can get. In fact, there is very little ‘flat’ on the Roth ride and although the winds are not strong, they can still have an effect on you as you take the many twists and turns that the course also offers.
The run is not short, if you expect to have 10km to go at the 30 or 31km mark then you have a long 10km ahead of you! It can get hot out there on the canal also and the long straights require some mental fortitude to stay focused and consistent.
All in all the course is awesome and one you’d expect from a very nice region of Germany, but remember, do not head to Roth expecting to smash your PB unless you are fully prepared for its challenges.

My Roth!
My build up went about as well as I could have hoped under the circumstances; a quick turnaround after Taiwan with some long travel, a race, a crash, some sore ribs and a tired body for a lot of it. However, I got to Roth confident and fit and felt great come race morning.
The swim went well; I didn’t push very hard and kept it very controlled, which is maybe something I’ll change up a bit for next year! My transition 1 was a shocker. I couldn’t get my race belt clip done up because it was the wrong way around and my socks were stuck at the bottom of my bike bag, which was now having my wetsuit shoved into it. So I had to calmly figure out the clip issue, empty my bike bag again and then put on my socks. I lost about 45 seconds and that wasn’t ideal, especially after the ‘known’ importance of being out on to the bike first in Roth (another story).
Anyway, I got going and again was feeling great on the bike. I had a little hiccup going the wrong way at one stage, costing me another 30 seconds, but all this was irrelevant really. I slowly caught the other 3 guys who were in front of me, leaving Dirk Bockel still out there and, as we would discover later, smashing it! I rode in that 2nd position until about the 25km mark where the big group caught us and we joined in with the pace line.
I was cruising along thinking that this race was going to be great. It was pretty easy in the group and the odd surges that hurt are just part of group riding. At about 40km and at the top of the hill where it flattens off to a false flat for a few km’s I noticed a gap opening up in front of the rider in front of me. I went around him and went to close the gap, but I couldn’t. I had nothing, zip, didly squat, and went backwards from there. By the 60km mark I felt as though I was completely spent. The next 120km’s were not that enjoyable and I watched many riders roll past me and there was nothing I could do.
By the time I got off the bike I was out of the race and my hopes of at least stumbling to a top 10 were gone. I got running and ran a solid marathon, no real x-factor in the running legs, but plenty of strength, and finished in decent shape in 20th place.

There are many things that I will change for round 2 in Roth and hopefully many things that I hope to avoid. I have no excuses, I raced as hard as I could and did the best I could on the day. Everyone that beat me fully deserved it and the guys who were top 10 all raced well and especially the podium guys.

Although it wasn’t the day I wanted, it was still an awesome experience out there.
It truly is a must do and I’ll be back next year for another crack at it.

As of now I am sitting on a train heading to Hamburg to watch the Tri NZ crew smash it out around the streets in the World Triathlon Series sprint event on Saturday and the Teams event on Sunday.
Come Monday, I will be on a plane to Portugal and on Tuesday I’ll be lying on the beach with a beer in one hand and probably a beer in the other! I well and truly need the week to refresh and reset before I start my final European build-up to Challenge Almere-Amsterdam on September 14th!

Thanks for all the support before, during and after the race. It is so cool to hear from so many.
A special thanks to Baz and Sandie Dodds and George Gibson for coming all the way from NZ to cheer me on. It was awesome to have you guys there!


Hope everyone is doing well.
Catch you all soon!

Cheers

Dylan

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