35 years of triathlon in Roth

35 years of triathlon in Roth
Europe's triathlon Mecca celebrates its success story

What do Nuremberg’s Franz Michels and Belgian Bart Aernouts have in common? The two are the bookends of Roth’s triathlon history: Michels as the winner of the first “Franken Triathlon" in 1984, Aernouts as the winner of DATEV Challenge Roth in July 2017. They symbolise the “35 Years Triathlon in Roth" anniversary, which is celebrated on 1 July.

Detlef Kühnel, infected by the triathlon bug after racing in Hawaii, was a pioneer in this country when Germans could barely spell the word ‘triathlon’! He started the Franken Triathlon on 22 September 1984 with just 83 participants, including just one woman. There were 100 helpers and a few hundred spectators. It took Franz Michels no longer than 1:59:42 to take the win over 700m swim, 40km bike and 10km run.


Event of global significance

After three and a half decades, the former mini-competition has become an annual major event of global significance. 3,400 individual athletes and 650 relay teams compete each year in the world's largest long distance triathlon. The distances of the three disciplines – 3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42.2km run - are about four and a half times longer than in 1984 and the winners usually cross the finish line below the magic eight-hour limit. The athletes are supported by more than 7,000 volunteers and cheered on by more than 250,000 spectators. For years, each race is fully booked in less than a minute after online entries open. Since 2011, DATEV Challenge Roth has won the triathlon award "Best Long Distance Race in the World” every year and has received countless other awards over the years. From a sporting point of view, the European triathlon mecca is world-class. Almost all the world's best triathlon distances were set in Roth with the current records set by Jan Frodeno (DATEV Challenge Roth 2016 in 7:35:39) and Chrissie Wellington (Challenge Roth 2011 in 8:18:13).

But what is the secret of the incredible success of the Roth Triathlon story? The answer is twofold. Firstly, the organizers (initially Detlef Kühnel and since 2002, the Walchshöfer family) have always taken care to put the wellbeing and wishes of the athletes above profit, to constantly increase their event experience and quality. Secondly, the enormous support of the community is the real treasure of the event. The local residents, the city and district administration, authorities, volunteers, partners and sponsors, host families, media and fans, all pulling together - for their triathlon sport, for their race. All that for 35 years.


Anniversary highlights

Spectacular prize money increase
To celebrate its 35th anniversary, DATEV Challenge Roth has more than doubled its prize money from US$88,150 to the dream sum of US$200,000. It is Europe’s highest prize purse and the second highest in the world after Ironman Hawaii.

Improved run course
The course, which was redesigned last year, will be further improved following athlete feedback. In 2018, the course will combine the best of the old traditional course and the newly introduced 2017 course. The new route is a one-lap course with only 160 instead of 330 vertical metres.

New Triathlon Expo
The demolition of the old Rother Stadthalle has provided a unique opportunity to completely rethink and redesign the Triathlon-Expo. The result will be a new exhibition experience with a whole new look and feel. The opening hours have also been revised to: Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10:00am to 7:00pm, Race day from 10:00am to 9:00pm, Monday during the Awards Ceremony from 10:00am to 1:00pm.

Political presence for the anniversary
Bavaria's Prime Minister, Markus Söder, is the new patron of DATEV Challenge Roth. He will personally start the race at 6.30am. At the finish line, this year’s winners will once again be welcomed by Minister of the Interior, Joachim Herrmann, who will present the traditional Bavarian State Chancellery lions.

New anniversary collection
For all participants and fans of DATEV Challenge Roth, a comprehensive, stylish anniversary merchandise collection is being launched. It includes leisurewear as well as functional sportswear and many items with the retro Jubilee logo.

Fireworks with special effects
The traditional fireworks that close the Triathlon Festival will be even more spectacular for the anniversary year. The motto "35 Years of Triathlon in Roth" will be portrayed both visually and acoustically with many special effects.


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