A short report of a long day……
Wake up @ 3am It was recommended to arrive before 4h50 and our apartment was located 30km from Hilpoltstein (swim start), hence the night was very short. Surprisingly sleeping went quite well and I was very looking forward to finally starting this project.
Arrival in Hilpoltstein @ 5am Bikes were already checked in the day before so the morning was relaxed. Plenty of time to enjoy the pre-start atmosphere … and that´s worth it. More than 3k athletes preparing themselves for their journey, the national anthems, fog on the channel. Hard to describe but you definitely feel that this is going to be an unusual day J.
Swim start @ 7:20am Start group number 7 out of 14. Swimming was easy. Not too crowded so I managed to keep myself out of all fights. Maybe I lost one or two minutes by taking the long way around the buoys, but this strategy brought me to the swim exit still feeling strong.
Transition zone 1 + bike leg The transition was really well organized. Everyone had his personal volunteer who took care of his bag, helped with getting off your wet suit (if help was necessary J). Unfortunately a toilet visit was unavoidable, which was a little complicated and the resulting transition time was far away from being quick. The bike course is just great. No real obstacles, many hot spots (of course especially the famous solar hill which is definitely impressive). Since the day was announced to be sunny, I decided very early to take a “save 11” instead of a risky “10h15”. Hence, I enjoyed the cycling. Approaching noon the sun started to do its job and had a little headache. Additionally, eating my 5 bars was more exhausting than cycling. The first one was ok, for the second one I needed 10 minutes and so on. After all, the two loops in Roth are the most beautiful bike leg I’ve seen so far.
Transition zone 2 + run leg TZ 2 was similar to TZ 1: Uncountable volunteers, sun cream service, toilet visit, … I was looking forward to starting running all day. No bike defect, so finishing was save. After 100m my lovely girlfriend supported me with an “only running left” and I felt really strong. The first 20k (5min/k) were just perfect, with strong legs and I could even have run faster. After that, legs still felt strong but as expected, I got problems with the sun. It was hard to drink, hard to eat and of course, hard to run. So I jogged the second half of the marathon. The course is comparably boring, all the way straight along the channel with the sun on your head. But the spectators compensate for this. I was really thankful for every time I saw I known face.
Conclusion: Roth is definitely the right choice for a long distance race. Both course and organization are just perfect. Additionally the atmosphere is amazing. Given the weather conditions, I am fine with my result. Next time I’ll be faster – Michael