On a hot and windy day at one of triathlon's most spectacular and historic races, Daniela Ryf has taken her second consecutive Challenge Roth title in front of 200,000+ spectators. Her currently unofficial time of 8:40:03 fell short of Chrissie Wellington’s 8:18hr iron-distance world record, but was still the 10th fastest women’s iron time in history.
The men’s race in Bavaria was won by Belgium’s Bart Aernouts in 7:59:07, 3:53mins ahead of Britain’s Joe Skipper who ran himself into second place, just as he had at Roth in 2016. German Maurice Clavel was third and Roth veteran Timo Bracht of Germany was fourth.
At the 2016 Challenge Roth event a year ago, it was the Jan Frodeno and Daniela Ryf show. The former would smash the men’s iron-distance record with a time of 7:35:39, and the latter posted the third-fastest female time in history with a 8:22:04 finish to take a convincing win.
Here's why we named Roth the greatest triathlon in the world
For 2017, it was Switzerland’s Ryf going it alone in the record-attempting stakes, with the German Frodeno having opted for Ironman Austria a week before; validating his Ironman World Championship spot but missing out on the official fastest Ironman time in history.
A week later and Ryf – the reigning Ironman world champ – had one bold goal in mind; breaking Brit Chrissie Wellington’s Iron-distance world record of 8:18:13, which was set back at Roth in 2011. Last year Ryf was just four minutes short of Wellington’s record, and that was having entered late after a DNF at Ironman Frankfurt a week before the Roth race.
“I enjoyed the atmosphere at DATEV Challenge Roth so much last year. It gave me wings and it made me realise, on a perfect day, the world record of Chrissie Wellington could possibly be in reach," Ryf said pre-race. “I'm fascinated by Chrissie’s record and I’ll try my best on race day to see how fast I can go.” Wellington was in Bavaria to watch Ryf’s record attempt and to form part of a tri superstar relay team.
Cut to daybreak at the Donau Kanal east of Roth, and Ryf was first female out of the 3.8km swim ahead of Heather Wurtele and Brit Laura Siddall. By 25km of the 180km bike (a legendary leg that includes the iconic Solarberg, arguably tri’s greatest sight), that lead had been extended to 2:25mins, with the early lack of wind and early 20C temperatures aiding Ryf’s record-attempt.
At 90km the winds had picked up in what Challenge called ‘a significant change of weather’, and Ryf – aboard her Felt bike – was still holding an 8min advantage of the chasing trio of Siddall, former Roth winner Yvonne van Vlerken and Heather Wurtele. By 122km, that lead was 10:47mins; by the second time up the Solarberg for Ryf it was 11:05mins over Siddall.
RYF BATTLES THE NEW RUN ROUTE
Onto the marathon run and Ryf had clocked a 4:39hr bike split (a minute faster than Wellington’s 2011 time) but, with Wellington having produced a 2:44hr marathon, the Swiss star was up against it from the start of the new run route that's said to be more undulating than the previous version.
By the 15km mark on the run and Ryf was flying, continuing to produce low 4min/kms. With temperatures approaching 30C by the half-marathon point, Ryf had a 15min lead over Siddall and her battle was now purely with the clock. Exact split times were hard to come by, but by the line Ryf was just over Wellington's record, crossing the line in 8:40:03hrs.
Brit Laura Siddall held on for second, while American Lisa Roberts took third place.
Head to the Challenge Family website for info on how to race Roth in 2018.