This Sunday Challenge Roth celebrated its 30th birthday. Strong field of pro athletes assembled for the birthday party. Weather was as hot as the competition and 19% DNF rate is a good measure of conditions on the day.
I had a good swim and got out of the water in 2nd group, 4 minutes behind the leaders. Looks like my swim has finally returned to a level where it once was. Maybe it’s time to make a step forward now.
It took me 30km to catch part of my swim group on the bike as I had very slow transition. I have to pay more attention to that part of the race. Few kilometers later we reached longest climb on the course in Greding and I managed to break away from the group and join Michael Runz who was riding in front of the group. We rode together for a while. Then he had a minor crash, chased back, then got dropped and then caught me again in the last 5km. It would have been much better if we stayed together longer but looks like our good and bad patches were opposite to one another.
I got off the bike in 13th spot. It was hot so I decided to start at a more conservative pace and try to pick it up later if I still feel good. Michael was running strong and got away, but I still had him in the sight as my pace was not too bad either (just over 4′/km). First half-marathon was exposed to the sun, without much shade. Instead of picking up the speed I started to fade after 13km. It was hot and hard to get the calories in. Even Cola didn’t taste well. Still, I was trying to force some fluids and calories in and hoped that others will melt more than me.
Ten kilometers later I got a second wind. We were now at the part of the course which was not so exposed to the sun. I passed Per and Luke McKenzie and found myself in 8th spot as few guys dropped out of the race. All others were too far ahead but I kept pushing in case someone else melts in the heat and also not to get overtaken by Roeland Smits who was never too far behind me. Those last few kilometers seemed to last for ever, but I managed to keep my 8th place till the finish.
Overall I’m quite pleased with my race. Swim was good but there is still a lot of work to be done. It’s very hard to close the gap after the swim alone and you have to be in the front pack to contend for the win. Either that or find a way to ride like Kienle. Bike and run were good given the conditions. This equaled my slowest time at the distance. After finishing 5 iron distance races my personal worst is 8:28h which is not bad I suppose :).