The perfect day? The longest day!
Will this July 8, 2012, the Challenge Roth, be the perfect day? We can’t say yet, at this early stage of the race. But one thing is sure: this will be the longest and hardest day of the year for most of the roughly 5000 athletes who started their journey of 3.8k swimming, 180k biking and 42.195k running at or shortly after 6.30 this morning.
Those, who endure this don't do it at any competition. They are at the biggest long distance triathon in the world which is also the Official ETU Long Distance European Championships this year. For the first time in 25 years the endurance athletes celebrate a real „Euro“ in Franconia.
The conditions are ideal for a fast race. Comfortable 18 degrees at the swim start, only a few light clouds in the sky. Colorful balloons greet from the opposite side of the canal, a remote-controlled airship floats over the start area. Here, at the Lände Hilpoltstein thousands of fans create a constant boisterous cheer starting in the early morning hours. The boys and girls in the water seem to be motivated by this. The athletes in front are swimming with incredible speed, their arms whipping the waves.
Fastest in the first start group was, like last year, France's Benjamin Sasson. He climbed out after 45:58 minutes. But his pursuers are not far behind and all favorites are still in striking distance. Fastest woman was, as expected, Lucy Zelenkova-Reed (47:31). But there is still a long distance to go in this race, a very long one!