The Challenge Roth organisers have announced that the 35th anniversary of the classic race will boast a world-class field on 1 July, headed by 2014 Ironman world champ, Sebastian Kienle, and Britain’s new long-distance superstar, Lucy Charles.
Kienle, 33, last raced in Roth (which we voted as our greatest triathlon in the world here) in 2010 and 2011. Both times he went sub-eight hours (2010: 7:59:06; 2011: 7:57:06), but on both occasions it wasn’t enough to secure the win. In 2010, he was runner up to Rasmus Henning and a year later to Andreas Raelert, who set the new world record. After several years away, Kienle returns to Roth and to the “mother of all long-distance races” with one thing driving him: “I haven’t yet won in Roth and so I am here to fight for that win.”
Jan Raphael, Andreas Dreitz and 2009 Roth champion, Michael Göhner, form a strong trio in the German camp. Brit Joe Skipper is another contender for the title, with Norfolk’s finest finishing behind the record-breaking Jan Frodeno in a time of 7:56:23 at Roth in 2016.
Also there with the expected 200,000+ spectators is Australian Cameron Wurf, a former Olympic rower and professional cyclist, made his mark in Hawaii last year when he out-biked Kienle and broke the course record held by Norman Stadler by more than 5mins.
Former Roth champ James Cunnama, Luke Bell and Jesse Thomas are further proven athletes on the Bavarian startline on Sunday 1st July (a week earlier than Roth’s usual date due to a clash with Ironman Frankfurt).
Strong women on the start line
The major news for Brit tri fans is the addition of Lucy Charles to the women’s pro field. Swim powerhouse Charles, 24, won Ironman Lanzarote in 2017 and was the breakout star at the Ironman World Championships in October after she led from the gun until just before T2, where eventual winner Daniela Ryf passed her.
Another British athlete, Laura Siddall, is back on the Roth start line. Siddall became the first ever Briton to win Ironman New Zealand in March. She also took victory at Ironman Australia in 2017 and two months later finished second at Challenge Roth in a personal best time of 8:51:38.
Joining Charles in Germany will be Kaisa Sali (Ironman Arizona in November 2017) and three-time Roth winner Yvonne van Vlerken. The veteran Dutch star broke the world record at Roth in 2008 but had to settle for third place in both 2016 and 2017.