At DATEV CHALLENGEROTH in Germany this Sunday, for which the motto „Race the Legend“ has been chosen this year, 250,000 spectators are again expected to watch the event along the race course, and they may look forward to an exciting competition of an impressive number of top athletes. This year’s top field of participants focuses especially on the „Legend of Roth“, Timo Bracht (race winner 2014), who will compete against last year’s second-place finisher Nils Frommhold.
39-year-old Timo Bracht is really eager to defend his title in Roth. He has refrained from taking part in Hawaii this year, and instead has set clear priorities for CHALLENGEROTH. Bracht is an extremely well-organised and highly-skilled sports and nutrition scientist, but he needed four attempts until he finally won the world’s biggest long-distance triathlon in 2014. He almost managed to win in 2013, but then a bike breakdown cost him the victory. Now the famous German top athlete is at the height of his athletic career, he is in excellent shape and he will certainly do everything to add another victory in Roth to his list.
Last year, Nils Frommhold had no chance against Timo Bracht, who dominated the race. Frommhold crossed the finish-line after 8:00:39 hours – four and a half minutes later than the race winner. Nevertheless, Frommhold had some sensationally successful international competitions in the past two years: in 2013 he won IM Arizona, in 2014 he finished first in IM South Africa and then sixth in Hawaii in autumn. There is no doubt that he is the new rising star in triathlon. Just like 33-year-old Horst Reichel, who is also a great talent. Since his victory in IM Sweden in 2014 with a finishing time of 8:13 hours, experts expect him to have a remarkable career, which would certainly be boosted by a victory at CHALLENGEROTH. And not to forget Markus Fachbach, current ETU European Long Distance Champion since he won CHALLENGEALMERE-AMSTERDAM in 2014.
And of course there will also be strong international competitors: Andrew Starykowicz (USA), for example, is an extremely strong cyclist, who has won quite a number of half-distance races and has also established several bike records. His fellow countryman Blake Becker from Madison/Wisconsin is an experienced athlete, who has competed in more than 60 races, and his personal fastest time is 8:39 hours. And there will also Petr Vabrousek (CZE), who has raced more than 140 long distance triathlons!
In the elite female field, another “Legend of Roth” is taking part again this year: “Flying Dutchwoman” Yvonne van Vlerken, aged 36, already won CHALLENGEROTH twice (in 2007 and 2008) and caused a sensation with her second victory, as she established a new world record of 8:45:48.
One of her strongest competitors will certainly be local hero Anja Beranek. She is 30 years old and lives in Nuremberg. She has already proven in an impressive way this season that she is extremely well-trained and in excellent shape: She recently won her preparation race at Ironman 70.3 St. Pölten. She also set a benchmark when she finished second atCHALLENGEFUERTEVENTURA (also a half-distance race) at the end of April. Last year, Anja Beranek had to quitCHALLENGEROTH ahead of time due to a bike accident, but now she has a second chance to win her home race, which is at the same time her favourite competition.
Gina Crawford from New Zealand is also an athlete to reckon with. In her home country, she has won CHALLENGEWANAKAsix times (including 2015). And she also finished first in CHALLENGEHENLEY-ON-THAMES (in 2012) and in five other long distance races, plus eighth in Hawaii last year. She just has not been able to win in Roth so far. Her best results in Roth were a third place in 2008 and a fourth place in 2012. Maybe she can make it this time?
In addition, Laura Bennett from the US will also have a say regarding the outcome of the race. She has taken part in Olympic Games twice (in 2008 and 2012) and she is a vice world champion on the Olympic distance (2003). After she changed to long-distance triathlon, she reached the second place in IM Boulder in 2014 and the sixth place at the Official ITU World Championship in China only a few weeks later.
But CHALLENGEROTH does not only feature top athletes, but also the numerous age-group athletes, who struggle against the elements and their own bodies. Around 3,400 individual participants and 650 relay teams will take part in the world’s biggest long-distance race in the „stronghold of triathlon“ in Roth on July 12 – taken care of by more than 5,700 volunteers. They are all part of a legend.