Well to say Challenge Roth was uneventful would be an absolute lie.
Apparently it was one of the toughest years in its 30 year history with the wind and the heat at its cruelest with the highest amount of athletes in the medical tent (20% of starters did not finish). Yet strangely the wind and the heat I did not notice until I heard people talking about it – I was doing my first ‘full distance triathlon’, living the dream. My dream.
You know its going to be a memorable day when it starts with Cindy Lauper blaring through the speakers “Girls just want to have fun” – this is awesome at any time and or place of the day let alone in Germany whilst treading water on the start line of Challenge Roth!
What is Challenge Roth? Picture Tour De France moments where one is enveloped in a kilometre of avid supporters 10 people deep whilst pedaling up what is called Solar Hill. Cyclists must ride single file. The ride course snakes through the German landscape of cobbled towns, sculpted horses amongst endless fields and historical landmarks complete with churches and more. All concluded by a 42.2km run beside the RothSea which intermittently winds gaily through endless lively streets where local kids eyes light up with the prospect of you simply high fiving them.
After having a swim which felt slow and uncomfortable yet smiling underwater still on a high from listening to Cindy Lauper I found myself amongst volunteers – ripping off my wetsuit like neoprene geniuses with angel qualities sent from the Challenge Family haha. After thanking them profusely before realizing I was in fact in a race I ran to get on the bike.
After hearing about how fast the bike course here in Roth is I had been over the moon as this race was going to be my longest ride yet, my first 180km. Ever.
Yet straight away the big chain ring wouldn’t work, yelling in English to anyone that would listen I asked where the bike mechanics were, yet to no avail. After stopping and trying to explain it to the bike mechanic for 5 minutes what was wrong I realized there was no hope. So back on the bike thinking like a mad woman ‘this run has got to be fast.’
If you want an image of what the bike course is like here at Challenge Roth – Think of your racing track you had as a kid with the remote control cars married with the above Roth landscape – and voila you have the 180km bike course!
I secretly had a time of 10.15 (I did 10:43 7th place) I wanted to achieve, maybe without a training program and riding 2-3 times a week this was unrealistic. Lol
Severe cramping reared its ugly head at the 20km mark. I thought of Pete and what he would do, so I initially altered my running style to stand taller with feet underneath me and chest out, failing this I then took some deep breaths, walked A LOT, and did some dynamic stretching. I also imagined a gold healing wave sweeping down my legs, and over my adductors. It relented a bit.
Luckily (note the word ‘luckily’ is lightly said) the ‘angry’ jaimie had reason to come out and play, forgetting about the cramps intermittently. Having a 6ft+ man built like the Statue of David plow full force into you (it seems he wanted a drink from the aid station on my side) on the running course will do that. I flew through the air with my right leg cramping like a bug on its back legs flailing with panic.
With no apologies the Statue of David look alike kept running, unfazed.
The volunteers picked me up, through tears I thought ‘there is no way I’m not finishing because of this, Pete’s at the finish line (I had no idea how he was or how his race was) plus I had seen pictures of the finish line – this girl was going to have finish line action if it killed her. A girl rarely gets a chance to run down a red carpet (albeit in sweaty lycra smelling like something stuck to the tractors tyres I just passed, hey I’ll take what I can get)– in Europe of all places!
Crossing the finish line was a mixture of emotions, angry that I didn’t have the race I had imagined (admittedly only imagined a time I wanted to aim for before the race when asked what splits I wanted to do, and frustrated that cramps came on so early. Blessed I crossed the line with the love of my life arms outstretched, the most supportive husband in the world, my best friend, my partner in crime.
Everyone who signs up for a full distance triathlon who commits to swimming 3.8km, riding 180km and running 42.2km all in one session has to have the support from their family. This is something I battled with, is it right for me to race the races when this is Pete’s job. Should I be there 100% of the time for him?
As I sat on the portaloo before the race start race morning I was reminded of this. I heard a man ask Pete in the portaloo line if it was hard having your wife racing too. I held my breath. Pete replied, “its easier she just does what I do.” If he was referring to eating tuna, kidney beans, rice cakes with peanut butter and banana as opposed to the European food one ought to indulge in whilst in Europes culinary fair then he was 100% correct! Grrrrr haha.
Thankyou for everyones beautiful messages of support, I will do more triathlons if it means I get to feel so warm and fuzzy when reading each and every one.
Triathlon is not just a sport, it is a lifestyle, a mechanism to keep one sane lol and Challenge uniquely makes everyone feel like family.
The plus side of walking a lot of the run is you can wear high heels to the after party and dance like nobody is watching!