It was a line-up for the ages at Challenge Roth’s 20th edition on Sunday 3 July, with four German Ironman world champions taking to the iconic long-distance startline. Patrick Lange, Sebastian Kienle and Anne Haug would’ve been draw enough, but it was their compatriot who everyone wanted to see – Jan Frodeno.
The Olympic champion, three-time Ironman world champion and Roth course record holder was back, choosing what is considered by many to be the fastest long-distance course in the world to mark his return after a long spell on the sidelines with an Achilles injury.
But it was a young Danish pretender to the crown who broke local hearts in only his second-ever long-distance race; Magnus Ditlev, 24, clocking a 7:35:48, missing Frodeno’s 2016 course record by an agonising nine seconds, to take the win.
Frodeno, meanwhile, succumbed to his old injury, pulling out after just 3km of the 42.2km run.
Defending men’s champion, and two-time Ironman world champion, Lange was second in 7:44:52, while Reinaldo Colucci from Brazil was third in 7:52:36.
Defending women’s champion Anne Haug put on an epic display to snatch the win from GB’s Fenella Langridge halfway through the run and cruise to the finish after 8:22:42. Judith Corachàn from Spain took third place.
What happened in the 2022 Challenge Roth swim leg?
Giving the local crowd and global digital audience what it came for, Frodeno led out of the non-wetsuit swim in the Main-Danube Canal Right with Lange, who like his compatriot had been recovering from a serious injury over spring, in fourth place and a full 90 seconds behind.
In the women’s race, Fenella Langridge (GB) and Rebecca Clark from New Zealand led after the swim, while 2019 world Ironman champion Haug, who started as the favourite, had a seven-minute deficit to bridge by T1.
What happened on the 2022 Challenge Roth bike leg?
By the end of the 180km bike course, the race still seemed well within Frodeno’s grasp despite Ditlev smashing the course bike record with a 4:01:56. Frodeno, whose 4:03:07 was also under the previous course record, was right behind him, and thanks to a speedier T2 hit the marathon course in first place.
Meanwhile Haug, who despite suffering a bee sting on her neck, put the power down to gradually reduce the gap to Langridge. After T2 she was in second place but was chewing up the miles so that by the half-marathon point, she was able to overtake and run clear to the line.
What happened in the 2022 Challenge Roth run leg?
But at 3km, the dream was over for the German superstar, pulling up with his Achilles injury and handing the reins to Ditlev, who ran unchallenged to the finish line, and almost into the record books. Lange ran in for second, Colucci third.
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Challenge Roth 2022 quotes
“I can’t believe this happened!” said Ditlev post-race. “It doesn’t make sense, I’m just out of words, I can’t believe what happened.
“Everything went according to plan and that very rarely happens. It was amazing with spectators all over the place and you just get carried through.
“It was a bit of a bummer when Frodo dropped out as I was looking forward to a good battle. It seems he has some problems still and that’s a shame as it would have been fun to go head-to-head with him.
“I’ve never experienced spectators like the swim and there was not a moment when you were alone on the bike and on the run there were even more spectators!”
“Long distance is always tough and I really had to fight today,” said Haug. “I didn’t have the swim I would have wished for so I had to push on the bike and the run was really hard. I felt OK but I had a bee sting which was tough but in the end I was super happy.
“You never know what will happen as you can’t influence others, only yourself. I focused on myself and tried to stay as relaxed as possible and I was super happy to see the finish line!
“I felt better than last year and it’s always amazing to win in front of a home crowd and it makes it super special for me.”
Top image: TEAMCHALLENGE/Lars Pamler