Race the Legend

So race day finally arrives and it is going to be a long one , and a hot one. The Roth Challenge is one of those must do races for triathletes but also the biggest in the world with close to 5000 entries , with close to 3000 individual entries and a large number of relay entries (something the Europeans seem to take much more seriously than us.) Michael was up at the ungodly hour of 330 am to serve us breakfast and then it was on the bus to Hilpolstein at 4 am to get to race start. Finally through the traffic we are off the bus for a short walk down the hill to transition. After putting what’s needed on my bike and pumping up the tyres an announcement comes over that it is 75 minutes to race start at 630! – and it is well and truly daylight at this hour, I go and place my bag  with bike shoes etc in its allotted place for me to colect after the swim . Pros go off at 630 but my wave is not till 745 , with Dennis off at 7 and Gav and Shaun off at 715. We head off in groups of 200 making the swim a pleasant affair compared to the mass start in some other races.

The swim is a lap in the canal and is relatively pleasant with the small start groups and completely flat water and a water temperature of 22 degrees . Someone is on my toes for about 500m , I reckon , but trying to kick him away only results in a cramp ! After coming under the bridge I head towards the ramps and and to my surprise am helped onto my feet by the helpers in the water. I figure my time is somewhere near my expected time of around 1:20. The bike course is a great one . Two ninety kilometre loops with a mixture of rolling hills open field and villages . There is one steepish climb of around 2 km and the famous solar berg , where the crowds gather on the hill and part as you climb up a la TDF style . I am going along OK but am pretty sure I am slow , getting passed by many more  than I pass . I come through the crowds before the Solar Berg and at the last minute hear Lil’s voice on the bottom of the hill and just get a glimpse of her before continuing up the climb. It is an interesting experience but am not entirely sure it is safe. Coming into the turn back into Hilpolstein Lil is there again with a German couple cheering me on . Surprisingly there is still a crowd when I get there on the second lap . On the second lap the wind out on the back part of the course had increased significantly and was typical of a hot northerly back home. I spot several people on the side of the road – apparently there was a 10% drop out rate on the bike course. Finally into T2  I am happy to take my time and decide on a complete change of gear . I forget to take the race number off and rip it . I then have 4 young girls trying to work out how to reattach it to my race belt. Once out on the run my body is telling me this is going to be  a very long ” run “. After 2 km following a toilet break I am vomiting . I manage to run slowly for the first 6km and from then it is a combination of slow running with long periods of walking – I am not alone. The run follows the canal goes off into a town and turns at around 12.5 km then goes back along the canal . To my surprise there are a lot of people behind me . The run goes off from the canal again and turns in a village at around the 28km mark . From there I am finally able to run , albeit slowly , the whole way between drink stations , keeping going on a combination iso,cola and caffeine shots. I note that the light is fading ! In to Roth , I ask a passer by for the time , “quarter to ten ” with 2 1/2 km to go I realise I am going to make it by the cut off. The finish is great , going round in a semi circle wit a very noisy crowd , apparently Lil was there but I don’t hear her among the noise . Under the finish arch I look back , my time is 14:20 , my longest ever but probably what I expected. I don’t get much time to enjoy the post race area having finished so late , have to walk to T2 get my bike on the truck and walk back to get the very crowded bus back to Kalbensteinberg. Lily was there somewhere but couldn’t find me and get a cab back to our accommodation. I later hear that Dennis had to pull out , and both Gav and Shaun have done well with times under the 1130 mark. So the legend of Roth is done – maybe back at a later time when I work out how to train in winter.


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