After Jan Frodeno’s heroics in the men’s event, Daniela Ryf came within touching distance of the women’s Iron record at the 2016 edition of Challenge Roth, with her 8:22:04 finish time just four minutes slower than Chrissie Wellington’s 2011 epic time.
The women’s race, like the men’s, was similarly dominated by a reigning Ironman world champ from the gun in Bavaria. In front of 50,000 spectators, Ironman and 70.3 world champ Daniela Ryf exited the 3.8km swim in 48:48mins and never looked like losing her grip on the race, sitting within the top 10 men throughout.
A late entry into the race after feeling ill at Ironman Frankfurt a fortnight before Roth, Ryf was told by coach Brett Sutton to take it easy after 150km on the bike but that advice was evidently disregarded as she destroyed a women’s field including longtime Roth favourite Yvonne Van Vlerken.
Onto the run and Ryf’s only rivals were the clock and the pro men, with the Swiss athlete sitting in eight overall by 12km. In the build-up Ryf, unlike Frodeno, had downplayed any record attempt on Chrissie Wellington’s 8:18:13 Roth record. But by halfway through the marathon it was clearly on, with Ryf looking strong and in control.
Her margin over the women’s lead chasers was 18mins by 35km on the run, but Chrissie’s record remained just out of reach as the Swiss danced across the line in 8:22:04 to post the third fastest female Iron time in history. Waiting at the finish was Chrissie herself, who has the top two spots in the Iron speed hall of fame after her exploits in Roth.
Australia’s Carrie Lester was second, while regular Roth favourite and Dutch star Yvonne Van Vlerken came home in third. Brit pro Laura Siddall would post a PB to finish fourth in 8:51.