Roth Triathlon Race Report 2017

Previous

I discovered the Roth Triathlon in an article describing bucket list triathlons a couple of years ago. It’s an Ironman distance triathlon located in the small village of Roth, Germany. It looked great so I convinced one of my friends (Rick) to sign up with me. (This is the same Rick who convinced me to run the Death Valley Marathon earlier this year. Turnabout is fair play after all.)

The Roth Triathlon is relatively unknown amongst casual triathletes in the US because although it’s an Ironman distance, it’s not an Ironman branded race. But Roth is a huge event in Europe. It attracts the best talent in the world and it sells out in a few minutes when then the registration opens online. (Jan Frodeno, Kona world champion, set the world record for an Ironman distance race at Roth in 2016.) 

Last year, the race registration opened at 10AM in Germany on July 25th — or 3AM EST — a mere 7 hours after I crossed the finish line at the 2016 Lake Placid Ironman.

I set an alarm and was dutifully awake 10 minutes before registration opened with with my computer on. I had preloaded the registration page and kept pressing the refresh button to be log in as soon as the registration page was available. 

Somehow, I had picked the page for German citizens so when the registration opened I was able to type in my name but the dropdown menu for country only showed “DE” (Germany). All other selections were greyed out. I reloaded the page multiple times wasting time and eventually figured I’d finish registering now and sort it out later. 

Then I typed in my birthdate in the wrong format. I got the Day-Month-Year part right (European format versus the US Month-Day-Year), but I used a dash as the separator instead of the required period. By the time I figured that out, registration was closed. 

Time elapsed: 2 minutes. 

Rick got in. I didn’t. It’s a little embarrassing to convince your friends to run a race with you in another country and then not be able to go. 

I had one last shot: In early December, Roth opens another registration for the few remaining slots left for whatever reason. This time the registration sold out in less than 30 seconds. But I typed deftly and nimbly and got in. :-) 

Roth is a small village of 5,000 people with virtually no hotel rooms. We ended up booking rooms in Nuremberg (the nearest large town) which is only 20 minutes away by car. That turned out to be a pretty good strategy. We were close enough to the Expo and race to be convenient yet far enough away not to have to fight crowds for limited amenities. And we got to sight-see a little bit in Nuremberg to take our mind off pre-race jitters.

Roth - 1 (24).jpg

One of the beautiful churches in Market Square

Linda turns the golden wish ring at the Beautiful Fountain in Market Square 


Rick and his wife flew in on Thursday. I arrived on Friday morning in Munich and drove directly to Roth to get my race pickup at the Expo. I slept well on the plane and felt pretty good. I met Rick and Linda and we grabbed a quick lunch and then did our obligatory Expo tour. 

Roth - 1 (19).jpg

A pasta lunch — of course!

The Expo is set up in tents in a park at Roth. It was much more pleasant than walking around a convention hall. (Although if it had been raining, I’m sure I’d feel just the opposite.) 

Roth - 1 (22).jpg

The finisher’s stadium in the park in Roth. 

The Expo is out of the picture to the right and behind the viewer.

New Balance was one of the sponsors and had provided a large inflatable shoe for the Expo. I think I’m going to start a collection of large shoe-themed race expo pictures. (Check out the walking shoe at the Lehigh Valley Expo.)

Roth - 1 (21).jpg

A giant shoe!

Rick, Linda, and I purchased a few shirts but amazingly didn’t break the bank. We also got some CO2 cartridges and some assorted last minute sundries for the race.

We had a nice dinner in Nuremberg and then drove back to Roth on Saturday for a women’s only 5K race that Linda ran. All the contestants were required to wear their pink race shirts during the race. Chrissie Wellington (world record holder of the women’s fastest Ironman distance time — set in Roth in 2008) popped up on stage before the race began to wish the runners luck.

Roth - 1 (1).jpg

Linda grabs a fruit drink before the 5K.

The day was starting to get warm (mid to upper 70’s) so Rick and I cozied up to a picnic table and drank a non-alcholic beer while waiting for Linda to finish. She did well despite the heat and was in good spirits at the finish. Then it was time for bike check-in. 

We passed the “coffee with Jan” event at the Expo as we walked to our cars. Jan Frodeno (who wasn’t competing this year — he had just completed an Ironman the previous week to secure his Kona slot) was at the Expo meeting with people.

Roth - 1 (2).jpg

Jan Frodeno posing for pictures with his fans!

We drove out to Hilpoltstein (a neighboring town) to bring our bikes to T1. We parked in a field about 1/2 mile from T1 and schlepped our bikes and run bags down to T1. (This is a bit counter-intuititive. You’d think you’d bring your run bags to T2 which is in Roth, but that wasn’t the case…) 

Roth is the world’s largest Ironman distance triathlons. There are 3,500 individual athletes and 1,500 people in relay teams. That means there are something like 4,000 bicycles in T1. There were two fields to hold all the bikes: a large one by the swim exit and a second, smaller one across a dirt road next to the porta-potties. 

Roth - 1 (15).jpg

A view of the big field on race day.


Athletes rack their bikes by race number. (First come, first served is not an option.) Our race numbers were in the 3,000’s so we were actually in the second field of bikes.

Roth - 1 (5).jpg

My bike in the “small” (it was still pretty big) field around noon on Saturday. By the end of the day, these racks were filled.

Prior to rolling our bikes into T1, volunteers inspect our bikes and helmets to make sure our bikes were mechanically sound, had our race number properly attached, and that our helmets were certified and had three race numbers applied (front, left, and right sides). Rick and I found our spots and dropped off our bikes and helmets. We would bring water bottles, food & gels, etc. on race day. 

A storm was expected that night and several athletes discussed whether we should buckle our helmets to our handlebars to keep them from blowing off. The rules stipulate that chin straps must be unbuckled but about half the helmets we saw on other’s bikes were buckled up. A volunteer told us that as long as the helmets were unbuckled before the start of the race it would be okay so we took the safe option and buckled them up.

We got a good look at the swim exit and bike exit, dropped our run bags off at a truck, and then headed back to Roth for the mandatory athlete briefing. 

Our briefing was at 4PM and was both in German and English. That meant there was a huge crowd at the briefing (the two most popular languages at the race) and that the briefing took twice as long. The briefing was in a tent with no ventilation and it was packed with athletes on a very warm day. It soon became very uncomfortable. 

First the race officials delivered some info in German and then they repeated it in English. After the German bit was delivered many of the German athletes would discuss the information amongst themselves making it difficult to hear the English bits. The briefing before ours was in French and it ended early. Our briefing went 20 minutes long and I suspect that they skipped some stuff. Overall, the Roth race officials did a great job organizing the race but,  this was one element in my opinion that could use some improvement in the future.

The “mandatory” race briefings at the two Ironman events I’ve attended just cover the same information that’s available online. At the Roth briefing, there was at least one piece of information that I couldn’t find in the online rules: the difference between infractions that resulted a warning (yellow card) versus a penalty (blue card). (And for the life of me, I can’t recall the difference any more.)

Rick was too hot and stepped out at 5:10PM. I stayed for the entire briefing and learned a shocking piece of news: the free beer served the next day after the race would be non-alcholic! Rick and I had talked incessantly during our training about the beer and German sausage that would be our rewards for finishing. I now had a moral dilemma: Tell Rick about this abomination and kill his enthusiasm for the race or keep mum and be complicit in crushing his post-race joy? I chose the coward’s way out and didn’t tell Rick.

After the briefing, Rick, Linda, and I headed back to Nuremberg. We split up for dinner. I had a leisurely supper of pizza and salad in the hotel bar and wandered off to bed where I slept fitfully. According to Linda, Rick was out like a light a 8PM.

Rick, Linda, and I met in the hotel lobby at 4AM on Sunday with our green warm-clothes bag and red bike bags. I also brought my Ruster bike bag so we could break down my bike after the race and all fit in one car. Then we headed out to T1 in Hilpoltstein.

The official race start was 6:30AM. That’s when Wave 1 — the fifty professional men athletes, athletes aged 65 years and above, disabled athletes, and athletes who had completed Roth 30 or more times — would begin. 

Yes, it’s a very strange mix. I’ve given a lot of thought to how the waves are split and I have no idea what the rationale was. Rick and I were both in the same wave — Wave 17 which was next to last. 

(Although practically speaking, Wave 17 was the last wave. There were no athletes listed in Wave 18 according to the competition schedule.)

Rick signed up in July; I signed up in December. And we were both in Wave 17 so that’s not it. 

According to the competition schedule Wave 2 (which started 5 minutes after Wave 1) was for the 25 professional women. Waves 3 and 4 were for the sub-9 hour athletes and ‘further fast age groupers’. The category of athletes for Wave 5 wasn’t specified. Wave 6 and 7 were for the ‘first Female Group 300’ and the ‘second Female Group 250’ respectively. (The fastest women age groupers?) Waves 8 - 18 weren’t categorized.

So it seems that the fastest athletes were in the starting waves (with the exception of those pesky 65+ athletes in Wave 1, one presumes. On the other hand, maybe they were really fast 65+ age groupers… Who knows?)

Rick’s put his estimated finish time at 13 1/2 hours. I entered 12 1/2 hours on my registration form. So it’s possible that all the 3,300 other athletes in Waves 1-16 estimated that they would finish faster than that and that’s why we were in the dregs of Wave 17. Depressing, but possible. 

The cut-off time for this triathlon is 15 hours after all. It does attract the world’s fastest professionals. Maybe only really fast age groupers sign up for Roth… (shrug)

In the end, Rick and I were by no means among the last 200 souls finishing the race so I have no clue why we were in the 17th Wave...

We parked our car in a field staffed by volunteers who guided our car to the next available spot. We paid 3 euro for the privilege which was to be donated to a local charity. Linda walked with us to T1 and then returned to the car to drive to Roth to get an early parking spot. (The traffic to Hilpoltstein was light to moderate at 4:30AM when we got there. Good planning on our part. By 5:30AM Linda reported that there was a long line queued up to get to the T1 parking. Fortunately, she was going the other way.)

Roth - 1 (3).jpg

Rick poses on the bridge over the swim canal on the way to T1. The green/white structure behind him is by the swim exit.

We placed our water bottles, unfastened our chin straps, and so forth to prep our bikes. We also wheeled our bikes over to the information tent where about 10 pumps had been set up to top off our tires. The pumps weren’t the best (or at least the one we used) and we helped each other hold the hose secure to the inner tube stem while the other pumped. FYI: unlike an Ironman event, it’s okay to bring your own pump. You can’t put your pump in your warm-cloths bag, but volunteers will gladly put a sticker on it with your bib number and you can pick it up later at T2 with the rest of your gear. Given the mediocre pumps supplied, that’d be the best bet next time.

We put our bike bags in the rows by the swim exit and then sat and waited.

Roth - 1 (16).jpg

The swim exit is under the green arch. The entrance to the changing tent can just be seen at the far right of the photo.

Before the start of the race, someone parachutes in (possibly Andrea Merkel… possibly David Hasselhoff… it wasn’t clear) and then hot air balloons make a low altitude, low speed fly-by. (What else could they do?) They’re balloons).


Roth - 1 (11).jpg


After a while, Rick got bored and checked out the pro’s bicycles. (There’s an interesting article on Triathlete.com that surveyed all the bike equipment at Roth. My bike, a Felt, was the 4th most popular bike at the race.)

Roth - 1 (12).jpg
Roth - 1 (13).jpg
Roth - 1 (14).jpg

And then we waited some more… 

Roth - 1 (10).jpg

Rick lost in thought: “What is the meaning of Wave 17?"

Roth - 1 (17).jpg

Hanging with the age groupers...

Ten minutes before each wave starts, you need to make your way to a staging area along the banks of the canal. About 7:30, we struggled into our wetsuits and dropped off our warm-clothes bags. (Which included my camera so no more pre-race pictures.)

Your wave number is printed on your cap which lets the volunteers sort out the next 200 folks to enter the water to get ready for their wave. 

Roth - 1 (25).jpg

The swim cap was made out of extra thick latex and seems like it will last forever. I fully intend to leave it to my as-of-yet unborn grandchildren in my will… 

When our turn finally came, we waded into the canal and swam to the start rope. Volunteers hold a large white rope across the canal and when the cannon sounds, they lift it. That’s the signal to get the heck out of Dodge. (The cannon sounds at the start of EVERY wave. I jumped out of my skin the first 10 times or so. One of the age groupers, an Aussie, sitting next to me observed, “Better get used to it, mate.” Eventually I got smart and started looking at my watch to anticipate the boom.)

The water temperature was ideal. Slightly cool upon entry it faded into the background within 30 seconds: neither too warm nor too cold. I positioned myself at the starting rope and dealt with the washing machine jostling at the start of the swim. Everyone’s swim cap is the same color so there’s no visual cue of when you overtake a slower group or another group overtakes you. 

The swim was mostly uncrowded, but on multiple occasions people would cluster together right in front of me (or someone would try to swim over the top of me from behind.) The worst, of course, was at the turn buoys. The first turn was described on the website as being just before the first bridge. In fact, it was secured by a rope hanging down from the far side of the bridge. The second and final turn was about 100 yards beyond the swim start. You swim past the start, go under another bridge (the one Rick is standing on 10 photos above), turn at a buoy, swim back under the bridge, and then out the swim exit. 

Everything is well marked and you’re basically following the canal so sighting is trivial. This year, the race directors had placed intermediate buoys in the canal so that athletes could gauge their distance. They weren’t marked in meters and I never bothered to keep count so I had no idea how much distance I had left to travel. What I found extremely heartening though was how fast they seemed to recede into the distance as I swam past. When I’m looking at a landmark to the front as I swim it seems that I never get any closer. But with these buoys off the side, it was clear I was making forward progress (and at a pretty decent clip.)

I exited the swim at 1h 16m. Volunteers stand in water up to their hips and grab your hand to help you stand up. Then you shuffle (or sprint) up a carpeted incline to the lines of red bike bags. Other volunteers ask your race number and point you in the general direction of your bag. There are no wetsuit strippers at Roth.

Once in the changing tent, you find an empty seat at a bench and a volunteer will come over and offer to help. In my case, she pulled my wetsuit off my ankles, dumped my bike bag on the table next to me, and started handing me items. Clearly she had an idea of what order I would need things. For example, she didn’t try to hand me my bike gloves before I had pulled on my bike shoes. When I was changed, she motioned me to stand up and run out. I told her a very sincere ‘danke schone’ while she grabbed my wetsuit and stuffed it in the bag and then brought it wherever it needed to go.

I had worn a pair of tri shorts during the swim and would wear them on the run. But I opted for comfort and pulled a pair of bike shorts over the tri shorts for extra padding. 

For the modest, be aware that the changing tent volunteers in the men’s area are co-ed. (I have no idea if they are co-ed in the women’s tent, but I doubt it.) Men and women athletes were changing in separate tents (so women don’t have to strip in front of male athletes and vice versa). But the volunteers that helped Rick and I happened to be both young women. If you’re extremely modest and you’re stripping down for a complete change of cloths, bring a towel to wrap around your waist.

I stopped at a port-potty before collecting my bike. All told, I spent over 7 minutes in T1 which seems like a ridiculously long time although I didn’t dawdle. Unlike previous Ironman’s I’ve done, the swim in/bike out path wasn’t the same for everyone. My bike was in the second field so we had a longer distance to run from the changing tent to get our bikes and get to the exit. (The pro’s, naturally, had the shortest distance.)

I had opted to swim bare chested and put on my kit in the changing tent so my cycling shirt was dry at the start of the cycling leg. (I learned how uncomfortable it can be to wear a wet shirt on the bike on a cool morning at Lake Placid.) I needn’t have been so worried. It was about 75 degrees at that point (9:20AM) and was continuing to warm.

The roads at Roth are wonderfully smooth! No dreaded chip seal, no wheel catching cracks, no gravel or stones. (I only saw 3 flats the entire race.) It was a cyclist’s dream come true and I was quite happy to put my head down and just pedal. And sometimes it was necessary to put my head down: there was a pretty strong headwind for a good chunk of the course. Daniella Ryf had hoped to beat Chrissie Wellington’s world’s record at Roth that year, but the temperature, humidity, and winds made it less than ideal and while Daniella handily won, she was 15 minutes slower than her own time the year before.

Roth is a fast race, but it’s not a fast course. There are hills. 

Overall there is 3,937 ft of elevation gain (according to the official map) which is really concentrated in four or five hills. (By comparison, Ironman Lake Placid — which is acknowledged as a very hilly course — had 6,898 ft of elevation gain according to their official map.) Roth race reports frequently boast the crowd support and steepness of Solar Hill at mile 46, but that’s not the killer hill. The worst hill by far is about 3 miles long just around mile 25. It goes on forever… As we grimly ground up that hill another cyclist told me that Solar Hill was easy in comparison. On loop 2, having experienced both by that time, I had to reluctantly agree.

Roth Elevation.jpeg

The Roth cycle elevation chart from MapMyRide. 

Triathlon training plans pound on the importance of not mashing the big ring and saving yourself on hills to leave some life in your legs for the run. But the reality is I was mashing for all I was worth in the little ring just to get up them. I didn’t have any reserve to save; I used them all just to finish the ride.

What goes up must come down. Following the killer hill was an even steeper descent around mile 31. This is where the switchbacks are located. (Chrissie Wellington took one of these 180 degree turns too fast one year and crashed her bike. The race directors now have hay bales on the course at the worst turns. Interestingly, the hale bales are only stacked one or two high. I’m pretty sure all that would do was ensure that the cyclist flipped head-over-heels if they went off course.) More effective than the hay bales though were the volunteers who was stationed well before the worst switchbacks to warn us about the impending turn.

The competition rules at Roth are similar to an Ironman race but there are a couple of differences. The most important is the drafting distance: cyclists must not draft within a box 12 meters long and 3 meters wide from the front wheel of the cyclist ahead of them. That’s 40 feet or roughly three car lengths and significantly longer than at an Ironman branded race. To compensate, cyclists have 45 seconds to overtake another cyclist instead of 30 seconds.

This was emphasized at the pre-race briefing where we were told the race director’s two primary concerns were 1) athlete’s safety and 2) competition fairness. He told us that there were 60 race officials spread on the course and we were assured they would be watching for drafting.

As for safety, we were instructed not to ride on the left side of the road. Three sections of the cycle course were open to traffic and that would put us in the path of oncoming cars. If we violated German road rules, local police could instruct race officials to DQ a cyclist. (No warning… No yellow card… No time penalty…  It was simple: Violate the law and you’re out, end of story.)

If you did get a penalty (for drafting, for example), you had to wait at the next penalty station for 5 minutes (there were two on the course) and you had to run an extra 1.1 km during the run. If you got two penalties, you had to run the penalty lap twice. (Three penalties = DQ.)

Drafting rules were relaxed on the hills and there were places on the course that were marked “drafting zones”. Those were near hills but not at the foot of hills so I wasn’t sure if those were the end of drafting zones or if they were the beginning of drafting zones. I tried to keep my distance from other cyclists regardless. Occasionally though I’d go through a mental lapse (especially at the crest of a hill after a hard effort) and get within a couple of bike lengths of the cyclist ahead of me. I had race officials got past me on motorcycles at that moment twice but I never got a penalty or a warning.

At least one person got a penalty for something. While on the run, I heard one athlete ask another where the start of the penalty loop was located. We were 6 km into the run by then and he couldn’t find it. (It was 1.5 km from the start of the run; he’d already missed it.)  I don’t think he was looking for the penalty loop for purely for academic reasons; he’d done something on the bike loop to earn a penalty.

As a below average cyclist, I got passed frequently on the first loop.  I had hoped that this wouldn’t be the case in this race because I started in such a late wave, but it wasn’t to be. I was being looped on the cycle course by those fast athletes who had started anywhere from 1 to 1 1/2 hours ahead of my wave.

At one point, an ATV passed us with a large digital clock mounted to it. When I first saw it, I thought it was a thoughtful convenience provided for us age groupers. And then a bunch of very fast riders passed me. A couple of moments later the penny dropped: the clock was for the pros who just passed me to know their time on the course. The next time I saw an ATV (around mile 33) I watched the cyclists who passed me carefully and got to see Daniella Ryf zip past.

I got chicked by Daniella Ryf at Roth. :-)

On the second loop I started passing other cyclists with some frequency. Athlete’s ages aren’t written on their calves like they are in an Ironman race so all I had to go on was their race number (wave number). I was passing people in the 2,000’s and 3,000’s. Some of those athletes had started an hour before me so I was pleased to be doing “well” on the ride. Others were in my wave or just before so I with those athletes I was holding my own. 

I did continue to get passed by athletes whose bibs in the 4,000’s. These were the relay teams who started an hour after I did, but at Roth the relay teams are extremely competitive so I mentally shrugged and pedaled onwards.

Having bonked on the run at a 70.3 distance tri earlier this year, I made a very conscious effort to fuel properly on the ride. I ate frequently (three Clif Bars that I brought with me from the States and several Squeezys — power bar thingies that were served at the aid station). I also drank Iso — the electrolyte drink served on course — frequently. It was hot, I was sweating, and I didn’t want to cramp. I had also brought two 2 ounce shots of Pickle Juice which I drank at the halfway point and at the start of the run.

With the second loop done, I took the turn off which led to T2 in Roth. Total time: 6h 17m (which is an average speed of 17.8 mph).

A volunteer took my bike and another helped find my blue run bag. I stripped off my cycling shorts (I think the young woman volunteer helping me was quite relieved to discover that I had tri shorts underneath), slapped on my shoes, and grabbed my hat. The volunteer was a little surprised I had so little in my run bag. I merely shrugged, smiled, and tossed off another ‘danke schone’ over my shoulder while scooting to a port-pottie. T2 was “only” 4 minutes long.

I felt good on the run for the first 6 miles. I think fueling properly on the ride really helped. But soon enough I was walking the hills. The run portion of Roth isn’t nearly as hilly as run portion of Ironman Lake Placid (656 versus 1,604 ft gain), but there’s one long hill just before the second turn around at mile 8.

Roth Run.jpeg

Official elevation chart of the Roth run course. Note the killer hill at km 13 (mile 8).

The temps at the start of the run were probably in the low 80’s and it was humid. Volunteers were handing out sponges soaked with water at the start of each aid station which were positioned every couple of miles. I grabbed a couple of sponges at each station to wash the salt off my face and then squeezed the excess water onto my shirt and hat to keep cool. By the time I finished the race, my shirt was plastered to my skin.

At the pre-race briefing the race officials announced that there would be no ice on the course this year. The race doctor had decided that placing ice on the skin could lead to frostbite and so he banned it. Instead, there were going to be 10,000 instant ice packs available. These weren’t as cold as ice, but they were longer lasting. I saw several of these ice packs on the ground between the aid stations but I never saw them being handed out. (To be fair, I also never specifically asked for them.)

I drank Iso and water for the first loop and switched to a 1/2 and 1/2 mix of coke and water after mile 18. I brought 3 caffeinated GUs with me and took them at miles 13, 16, and 21. My HR monitor on my Garmin wasn’t working so I ran by feel. I walked briskly whenever I was tired and when I started running again I purposely held back my pace so I wouldn’t bonk within a 1/4 mile. Overall it seemed to work.

There were lots of spectators and with 4,000 athletes on the course there were always plenty of people around. One spectator saw from my race bib that I was from the US and started running next to me imploring me to “Remember the Alamo” in a thick German accent. When I told him I was from Texas he really got excited and started quoting Alamo verse to me. (Lyrics from the 1960’s song “The Ballad of the Alamo”? Dialog from the Disney movie? A poem he wrote himself? Who knows?…) It was very surreal.

At another point, I slowed to a walk and a… uh… robust Bavarian woman wrapped her arm around me and started jogging next to me — dragging me along. I was disgustingly sweaty and wet to the skin from my sponge baths, but apparently she didn’t mind. I said “danke” and smiled and shuffled along until she let me go. (It’s hard to run next to someone with their arm wrapped around you even when you’re not tired.) Eventually she dropped back, but I kept running until I was safely away.

After the turnaround around mile 13 I made a shocking discovery: Some of the aid stations had beer! (Okay, it was alcohol-free, but it was still beer!) I didn’t get any on my first loop but I assured the woman at the aid station that I’d be back. ;-)

I saw Rick on the run four times coming the opposite direction. (After the race, Rick told me that the first time he saw me he wanted to kill me. I was only some 3 to 6 miles ahead of him at that point, but I had on a shit eating grin plastered on my face and he was hitting the wall. The only thing that saved me was the barrier of cones separating the lanes of runners; Rick was too tired to attempt to jump it.) As soon as I found out they had beer at the aid stations I kept an eagle eye out for Rick to make sure he knew beer was an option. I saw him about 4 miles later and shouted the news to him, but sadly I don’t think heard me.

(I did stop for sip on my second loop, but one sip was plenty to convince me it wouldn’t sit well in my stomach. I dumped it and washed the taste out with Iso.)

After I finished my second loop, I turned towards the Athlete’s Village and the finish line. A large stadium was set up in the park in Roth and the runners were funneled into a chute that took them past all the spectators in the stands. Another athlete was in front of me and I decided to slow down to give him some space (and not photobomb his finish). 

What I didn’t realize was that at Roth it’s okay to have your friends join you in the chute and cross the finish line together. So what was just one guy suddenly became 3 people with their arms linked around their waists, now running even slower than before and totally blocking the chute. I slowed down some more to give them more room. Just then a runner passed me from behind and two of his friends jumped into the chute to join him. One of them actually pushed me backwards to make room so she could link arms around his waist. I dusted off an Anglo-Saxon slang word that’s very handy in situations like these, but the offending jerk didn’t hear me. (Shrug)

I finished the run in 4h 16m for a total time of 12h 1m 10s — a PR. :-)

Linda was waiting in the stands near the finish line but I didn’t see/hear her. I got my finishers medal and made my way slowly to the finisher’s tent (the same tent we had the briefing in the day before). I was surprised that there was no official finisher photographer to take the obligatory picture of the athletes holding their medals with a big Challenge Roth banner behind them. Even more surprising was that there weren’t any volunteers watching for athletes in need of medical attention.

At the two Ironman’s I’ve done, a volunteer glued themselves to each athlete after the finish and made sure they were okay. At Lake Placid the volunteers even guided the athlete to a seat and went to fetch water and food for them.

I was desperate to sit down. The athlete’s tent was divided into two sections: one for the post race food and one for massages. There was a very slow moving line of ~15 people waiting for a massage and there was no way I was going to stand there for 30 minutes so I just found an empty bench near a massage table and plopped down. I had grabbed a beer on the way into the tent and sipped it slowly as I recovered. About 15 minutes later, I went to find my warm clothes bag. I pulled on a dry shirt and switched shoes. 

Then I texted Linda to find out where she was. While I waited for her reply I checked out the food buffet. There were sausage sandwiches, soups, and other normally tasty things but I wasn’t the least bit hungry. I finally grabbed a cheese and pickle sandwich because I felt that I should eat something. I nibbled on my sandwich, grabbed something to wash it down, and wandered out of the tent over to the finish line. Linda was wedged in with a large crowd that I had no desire to fight so I waited for Rick just before the stadium and caught him on video when he came down the chute.

During our training Rick worried incessantly that he wouldn’t make the 15 hour cut off, but he finished in just over 13 hours and looked plenty strong. I finally found Linda while Rick was in the finisher’s tent getting his warm clothes bag. Rick skipped the massage and food, too, but he did manage to grab a beer. He finished half of it before he realized it was non-alcoholic. ;-)


Phil Results.jpeg
Rick Results.jpeg












 © Phil Miller 2014, 2015, 2016