This Sunday, Bavarian belter Challenge Roth will celebrate its 30-year anniversary with a field of 5,500 athletes from over 60 nations, including what the organisers believe is the strongest pro field ever seen on the course.
220 will be one of the 220,000 spectators expected at the event, with the classic Solarer Berg climb and the Eckersmuhlen beer mile (up there with Curry Mile as the best type of mile, surely?) expecting deep crowds cheering on the pro and age-group fields.
The women’s pro field is the strongest seen so far in 2014 (and unlikely to be surpassed until Hawaii), with reigning Ironman World Champion Mirinda Carfrae, Britain’s 2012 Roth winner Rachel Joyce, former long-distance world record holder Yvonne van Vlerken and double Kona runner-up Caroline Steffen just some of the contenders on the stacked field.
As well as vying for the Roth title, the likes of Carfrae, Joyce, Steffen and co will be attempting to smash Chrissie Wellington’s 2011 Roth world record of 8:18:13, with Carfrae having edged Welly’s Kona record back in October. To do this they’ll have to beat Chrissie’s 49:49min 3.8km swim split, 4:40hr 180km bike and formidable 2:44 marathon split of three years ago.
WIDE OPEN MEN’S FIELD
The men’s field will feature 2012 Ironman Hawaii champ Pete Jacobs, Australia’s double 70.3 World Champ Luke McKenzie, top South African and 2012 Roth winner James Cunnama, former Abu Dhabi winner Eneko Llanos, defending Roth champ Dirk Bockel of Luxembourg, and top Germans Timo Bracht and Nils Frommhold.
Former ITU racer Ritchie Nicholls will be topping the pro list for Britain, having won the European 70.3 Championships, UK 70.3 and the Alpe D’Huez Tri in 2013.
The current men’s long-distance world record was also established in Roth, with Germany’s Andreas Raelert breaking the tape in 7:41:33 in 2011.
This year’s historic race will start at 6:30am with a 3.8km swim in the Main-Donau-Canal, followed by a 180km bike on the largely fast and flat course south of Nuremberg, and a final marathon of 42km.
Athlete-tracking coverage is available at www.challenge-roth.com from 6:00am, with reports here over the weekend and a major feature in issue 303 of 220 (out on 19 Aug).