„Triathlon heaven“ in the Roth

„Triathlon heaven“ in the Roth
20 hours before the start of Sunday's race, top athletes and age groupers meet at the Bike Check-In

Not even 20 hours left until the starting signal for DATEV Challenge Roth 2017 will sound, so it's about time to place the race bikes at Changing Zone 1 near the Main-Donau-Channel. But before the bikes get placed in the numbered bicycle racks, the judges check bikes and helmets. It's safety first here. A small crack in her helmet makes one female athlete really nervous. For the judge, there is no doubt: The age grouper can not enter the race with this helmet. One phone call and a couple of worried minutes later, she gets a friend's helmet. And it fits! Besides safety, fairness is another reason for the checks. All bikes have to abide by the same rules. No matter if you are a top athlete, an age grouper or a long distance rookie, at the changing zone, everyone is equal.

Group photo with bike. That's also part of the bike check-in.
Photo: TEAMCHALLENGE, Christoph Raithel

For many who compete for the first time in this race, the bike check-in is an exciting event – Where to put the bike? Where do I  get out of the water? How do I get to my bike? What to do with the bag with the running gear? These are some of the questions that countless volunteers answer all day.

One who definitely knows his way around the race is the winner of 2014, Timo Bracht. The DATEV Challenge Roth 2017 will be his last long distance race as a professional athlete. But he doesn't plan on just waving and doing a farewell tour. He tells Bernd Uwe Gutknecht of BAYERN 3: “I'm only going to wave, when I cross the finish line as the winner.”. When asked, why he choose Roth for his final race, he has a simply answer: “Roth is triathlon heaven.”, the best triathlon event in the world. He is very honored to be wearing the number 1 in this race. Come Sunday, he wants to focus one last time and go all out. “For me it is also about giving back.” says Bracht, referring to the 7000 volunteers and 260.000 expected spectators, that make Roth so special.

His last race as a pro – Timo Bracht being interviewed by BAYERN 3 sports host Bernd Uwe Gutknecht. 
Photo: TEAMCHALLENGE, Christoph Raithel



All afternoon, BAYERN 3  sports host Bernd Uwe Gutknecht has talked to interesting interview partners at the HIP Lounge, where athletes and spectators can go to relax from all the hecticness of the race weekend. They are provided with cold drinks and food, coffee and cake. But also with the above mentioned interviews. One interview partner was, for example, Hilpotstein's mayor Markus Mahl.

The “triathlon mayor” expressed how excited he is about all the big and small parts working together, to make this event happen. Next to the channel is also the famous Solarer Berg (Solarer Hill) which is usually pretty quiet. But on this Sunday in July, thousands will go there and witness a world-class sports event.

World-class also describes the next interview partner: Swiss Daniely Ryf, who finished first last year, plans for this year to break the world record set by Chrissie Wellington. Her motto: “Full throttle!” The atmosphere along the course will play a huge part in this: “It helps so much when you are out there suffering and then there are people cheering for you.”

One who soaks up this atmosphere year after year is Yvonne van Vlerken. For the Dutchwoman, the DATEV Challenge Roth is not only about swimming, biking and running. To her it's a week-long party. And a 5 hour autograph session is no problem for her. At the Challenge Heilbronn, a couple of weeks ago, she crashed on her bike or, as she describes it herself, “kissed the pavement”, but that was never going to kept her from starting in Roth.

And then Yvonne van Vlerken has some words of wisdom for all the other athletes: “Enjoy it!”

Yvonne van Vlerken gets her bike ready. 
Photo: TEAMCHALLENGE, Christoph Raithel


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