Triathlon All-Stars united in Roth

It will be the best field of participants that Roth has ever seen - on July 20, DATEV Challenge Roth will celebrate its anniversary of “30 Years of Triathlon in Roth”. As many as 220,000 spectators are expected to come and watch the race, and they may look forward to an exciting competition among the world’s best triathletes.

Among male athletes, Luke McKenzie from the US (2nd in Hawaii), Australian top athlete Pete Jacobs (Hawaii winner in 2012), James Cunnama from South Africa (4th in Hawaii), Eneko Llanos from the Basque country, Dirk Bockel from Luxembourg (winner of last year’s DATEV Challenge Roth) and German top athletes Timo Bracht and Nils Frommhold will put up a fierce competition for the places on the rostrum. Among these top-class participants, it is hard to make out any clear favourite. Any of the afore-mentioned athletes will be in a position to remain under 7:50 hours – which is a prerequisite to win the race. So the anniversary event in Roth, the legendary “stronghold of triathlon”, will certainly be an extremely exciting and fast race.

Josef Hasler (N-ERGIE, left), Claus Fesel (DATEV, 2nd from right) and Alice and Kathrin Walchshöfer (TEAMCHALLENGE GmbH). Top athletes Anja Beranek and Dirk Bockel. Picture: TEAMCHALLENGE GmbH, Luise Köstler

Vice world champion Luke McKenzie, who was born in Taree/Australia and now lives in California, has won as many as eight long-distance competitions so far. A few days after his participation in the world’s biggest long-distance race, the outstanding athlete will celebrate his 33rd birthday, and would give himself the best birthday present if he won his first victory in Roth.

Pete Jacobs, who won Hawaii in 2012 in a fantastic race, has never reached the top position in Roth so far either, so he will definitely want to fight hard on July 20. James Cunnama is already one step ahead, as he won the Roth competition in 2012 – and of course he would be happy to repeat his success. And last year’s winner of DATEV Challenge Roth, Dirk Bockel from Luxembourg, got hooked by the event as well. After having finished in 7:52:01 hours in 2013, and now that he already knows the race course, he is bound to do even faster this year.

Timo Bracht has still a score to settle in Roth, because so far the six-times Ironman winner has never been able to win here. In 2013, Bracht was as close to a victory than never before, but then a flat tire ruined his victory, although he had been the best athlete of the day on his way to win the race. Will his dream come true at last this year? Another promising German athlete might get into his way: Nils Frommhold, who recently won the IM South Africa – the second long-distance victory of the 28-year-old athlete from Berlin. Due to a bone fracture, Frommhold came to Roth in 2013 only as a spectator, and decided to return in 2014 with a big aim. Another athlete to reckon on is Eneko Llanos from the Basque country, who has already won several long-distance races. He also finished among the top five athletes several times in Roth and won a great victory at IM Frankfurt, so he has shown that he is still one of the best triathletes in the world in spite of his age of 37 years.

The world-class field of participants is completed by Andrej Vistica from Croatia (winner of Challenge Vichy and current ETU European Champion) as well as the strong German top athletes Markus Fachbach, Joe Spindler, Per Bittner and Swen Sundberg. Not to forget Andreas Niedrig, who wants to reach a really great result again this year in Roth, and of course Lothar Leder, who has made history as five-times “King of Roth” (1996; 2000 to 2003) – and has contributed a lot to the “myth” of Roth with his five victories.

Good tradition in Roth: The world’s best field of female participants
After Chrissie Wellington’s sensational victories in Roth and her still valid world-record time of 2011, one would have thought that this is as good as it gets for some time to come. But now the current Hawaii winner Mirinda Carfrae will take part in Roth, and she wants to show the triathlon world that she can be “Muppet’s” legitimate successor. Mirinda Carfrae, nicknamed “Rinny”, was born in Australia and now lives in Boulder/Colorado. She has heard so many good things about DATEV Challenge Roth – especially from Belinda Granger – that she can hardly wait to take part.

In Hawaii, she was followed closely by Rachel Joyce from England, the current 2nd place Hawaii finisher and 2012 winner of Challenge Roth. Last year, Joyce had to cancel her participation in Roth due to a virus infection, but this year she will be there and perhaps there will again be a duel between the best female athletes in Roth. But three further top-ten Hawaii finishers are also going to participate in Roth: Yvonne Van Vlerken (4th in Hawaii), Caroline Steffen (5th) and Michelle Vesterby (8th). In 2013, Caroline Steffen from Switzerland took part in Roth for the first time and was able to win the race right away – just as the “flying Dutchwoman” Yvonne van Vlerken three years earlier. Young Danish athlete Michelle Vesterby still has to get to know the special atmosphere at DATEV Challenge Roth, but she is also among the favourites to win the race.

The Roth organizers are also very happy about the participation of Anja Beranek (née Ippach), who is almost a local hero. In 2013, she won her very first Ironman race and qualified for Hawaii. Unfortunately, she had to give up her participation in Hawaii, but now she will be able to show her talent in her Franconian home country at the world’s biggest long-distance race. Julia Gajer has already proved her strength in Roth: After her second place in 2011, and third places in 2012 and 2013, the only thing that is still missing for Julia Gajer is a victory in Roth. Diana Riesler and Daniela Sämmler are also among the strong German female athletes. Riesler won the 2013 Challenge Vichy event and thus the title of ETU European Champion, in a fantastic sub-9 finish. Sämmler was able to reach a 3rd place in her very first long-distance race in Spain in 2012, followed by a 2nd place in Denmark in 2012. Rebekah Keat from Australia is also one of the top female athletes. She finished second in Roth in 2009 and 2010 and third in 2011, and further top positions in other competitions of the Challenge Series. She is determined to reach an “extremely fast finishing time” at the DATEV Challenge Roth event this year. It’s going to be tense!

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