Celebration of the Finishers
It was probably the hardest race that has ever taken place in the past 30 years of triathlon in Roth: heat, wind, rain – conditions that cost the athletes all they had.
So all participants were happy to celebrate themselves at the Award Ceremony on Monday, where the best relay teams, age-group winners and top 10 female and male athletes were at the center of attention.
And two participants had special reasons to celebrate, as yesterday’s race was probably even more extraordinary for them than for the remaining 5,000 athletes.
Even before the Award Ceremony at the Roth Triathlon Park started, spontaneous applause went up, and it became apparent that in triathlon you can be a hero even if you haven’t made it to the finish line. On Monday morning, standing ovations were given to 83-year-old Sister Madonna Buder. She wanted to earn an entry in the Guinness Book of Records by finishing in Roth. But the race was over for her at kilometer 17 of the run course. So the enthusiastic athlete did not achieve the world record, but she reached the other athletes’ and spectators’ hearts all the more.
The second athlete, who had a very special race this time, was Felix Walchshöfer, CEO of TEAMCHALLENGE and race organizer of DATEV Challenge Roth. He took part wearing start number 2105, the birthday of his late father, who had founded the Challenge brand.
After having finished Challenge Wanaka twice, his own race was “damned hard” for Felix, but he was supported by many participants on his way. He said he had been motivated a lot by other athletes, especially during the marathon. At the Award Ceremony Felix told the audience about three special highlights of his race:
The first was to ride up the Solar Hill. He said, it had already been incredible on the motorbike in the past few years, but to ride up on his bike as a triathlete had been absolutely exhilarating and beyond compare with anything else.
In addition, Felix Walchshöfer had not quite been able to give up his role as a race organizer: When he realized that the Eysölden aid station was running out of water, he contacted the fire service and organization team. And it did not take more than ten minutes until local farmers used their tractors to take new drums of water to the aid station for the athletes who were suffering in the heat.
And then there was Raik, an athlete who – after having crossed the finish line - proposed marriage to his girlfriend Christine at the Triathlon Stadium. The same evening, the couple got married at the Roth town hall. Felix met them there right before their wedding, as the town hall is located next to the run course in the old town of Roth.
While Felix was on his way along the race course, his sister Kathrin Walchshöfer took over the job of race organizer this year. At the Award Ceremony, she thanked all athletes for a fair competition, in which only half as many time penalties had to be declared as last year.
On behalf of the 5,700 volunteers, Kathrin Walchshöfer also expressed her thanks to the members of the Bavarian Red Cross first-aid service. Due to the extreme weather conditions, the volunteers had a lot to do, so that an additional first-aid facility had been provided by the Red Cross service at their station in Roth, and additional transport facilities from Nuremberg had been activated as a matter of precaution.
Then, it was time to award the trophies to the winners of DATEV Chellenge Roth and the German Championship, as well as the medals for the age-group athletes, before the top 10 female and male athletes stepped up the podium. The race winners of 2014 DATEV Challenge Roth, Mirinda Carfrae and Timo Bracht, were honored by playing their national anthems.
“It was a really tough race” for Mirinda Carfrae, facing a field of participants featuring the world’s best female athletes. Being a “Roth rookie”, it was a fantastic competition for her, with a great atmosphere at the finish-line. She said, she definitely wanted to come back.
And Timo Bracht put it in a nutshell: “If you start things, you must get them done!” So on Monday morning he decided to wear his finisher shirt again. He said, he found triathlon to be a wonderful, fair kind of sport. On his way to the victory, he said he was even cheered on by Eneko Llanos and James Cunnama on the run course, who had later reached the third and fifth place. According to Bracht, it had been an unbelievable race, and the world’s best finish-line experience.
Timo Bracht, Sister Madonna Buder, Mirinda Carfrae and Felix Walchshöfer (from left to right)
TEAMCHALLENGE, Christoph Raithel