Held since 1984, Bavaria’s Challenge Roth is a stone-cold triathlon classic of the long-distance circuit. The event, set in the small town of Roth 25km south of Nuremberg, attracts some 220,000 spectators each summer, and is famous for its world record times and the crowded Solarer Berg climb. Some 200 Brit racers joined the 5,258 athletes at Roth in 2015, but with a shortened 15hr overall cut-off time, a mixed-terrain run and the famed climbs, is Roth as fast and flat as the legend suggests? Over to 2015’s top Roth age-grouper, Tom van Rossum of Jackpot Racing, and his tips to tame the Germanic monster…
A long-sleeved tri top and a cap I picked up at the Roth expo were two great choices for the race. The temperature in 2015 (and 2014) was so hot I was glad of the extra protection from the sun, and I could soak the top at each aid station on the run to stay cool. I saw a lot of athletes in sleeveless tri-suits who literally looked like they were baking in the sun.
Don’t be tempted to try anything new from the expo. Stick to the race-day nutrition that you’ve trained and raced with previously. I didn’t use the on-course nutrition except for the cola on the run, but the aid stations were over-stocked with choices for all tastes. Save the Bratwurst and Steins for the post-race celebrations!
Building towards any Ironman it’s important to have a structured plan and to remain consistent. I was hit with injuries for the months leading into the race, but made sure I was on the start line in the best shape possible. To combat my running injuries, Tom at trimechanics.co.uk provided me with a programme to work on in the gym, and ensured that I finally ran an Ironman marathon to be pleased with.
Take the chance to attend the pre-race practice swims on the Friday and Saturday. I swam there at a similar time to my race start to spot the conditions. On race day I used tinted-lens goggles to avoid the glare from the rising sun, so it’s worth having the option of clear or tinted depending on the conditions.
Roth isn’t a flat ride but it’s fast with a mix of steady and punchy climbs followed by quick descents. With the cheering Bavarian crowd and disco atmosphere, it’d be easy to light it up on the climbs but keep the pace steady and stick to your power/HR limits. Carving through the crowd up the Solarer Berg was a highlight! Enjoy these moments on the first lap because it feels a hell of a lot harder the second time around.
The run course only has a couple of undulations and allows you to get in to a rhythm. It’s exposed along the canal and the gaps between aid stations seem larger along this section, but maybe that’s just because there’s less crowd support there. The last 2km twists through the centre of town before entering the stadium – stay alert and follow the signs as I lost a bit of time here being directed the wrong way.
We named Challenge Roth 8th in our top 10 European Ironman-distance triathlons for first timers