Derby Triathlon Club

Challenge Roth by Paul Newton

Challenge Roth by Paul Newton

Roth, known by those in the know as being flat, fast and a wee bit on the short side, it is the universal caveat when responding to the question of an IM PB and was therefore the perfect venue for me to take some serious time out of my Switzerland 2010 effort, which in itself was much faster than my IMCH 2007 and Elba 2007 efforts.

I flew from Birmingham to Munich with Lufthansa; bike flew first class for £140 in a brand new bike box Alan. With my flight ticket, the bike box, the cost of the hire car and an impending speeding ticket, I can see why a lot of people drove over from England. That said, it it is widely recognised that ironman events don’t cost enough so it seemed only right to add expense where possible.

Pre race highlight was getting Chrissie Wellington to sign my Beaver Fest Tee with I Love Beaver, I’m fairly sure she promised to race there next year. I think.

I hooked up with a few other brits and shared a lift to the race with them. Roth itself has nowhere near sufficient capacity for 3000 athletes and we were about 20 mins drive from the race venue. This would have been ok were it not for some last gasp attempts to turn that into a 15 minute drive whilst trying unsuccessfully to get my rear wheel fixed pre race. In the end I reluctantly put my training wheel on the bike, knowing full well that the main detriment would be to the photos rather than the bike split.

I had been a bit nervous about being swum over given that I was off in the 5th wave (of 12). What actually ensued was the easiest IM swim I’ve ever done, no biff, lots of room and moreorless just an out and back. Relatively quick T1 and I was pleased to see that the watch on my bike had me starting the bike leg with 1:18 on the clock. Game on – My target was bike start 1:20, Run start 6:30, finish 9:59.

The bike course started downhill and the first few miles I was averaging about 30mph, lots of traffic, especially given that most of the women who’d started the swim 20 minutes before me, were still well ahead on the road, and many slower cyclists would have taken me on the swim. The bike course isn’t actually that flat – about 1250m of climbing in total, however the road surface is awesome and this meant that rolling speeds were high. Incidentally, due to road works the course was also not short this year, with a 2km detour being added. I’ve almost perfected the art of applying sun cream whilst climbing so even though it was turning into a hot day, I avoided getting too burnt. Support was good, although the single file forced by the crowds up the solaberg was a bit frustrating given the number of slower cyclists still ahead on the road. Both laps of the bike passed without significant incident and I hit T2 4.59 after exiting T1. Transition itself is a bit of a blag at Roth, you hand your bike to someone straight after the dismount line and then another helper gets your bag and comes with you to the tent to speed up the change. In total I cut about 6 minutes out of my CH time in transition alone, only some of which I can attribute to learning to not faff so much at the Summer series.! My one and only toilet break of the day meant that I exited T2 with 3:39 to do the marathon in if I were to go sub 10.

First few km of the marathon were fairly routine at steady 5minute km pace, but the wheels soon fell off as temperatures approached 30 degrees on an exposed run course around the canal. I gradually slowed to near 6minute pace, having wilted to a heart rate of around 130 and I was running on empty. Feed stations were situated moreorless every 2km, but I’d not eaten enough on the bike and I was unable to undo the damage. HR on the bike had been steady, but I’d only consumed a handful of gels, some drink and an energy bar which was far from sufficient.

I eventually came in at 10.15, half an hour faster than IM CH with a 3:54 marathon,(the same as at IM CH). Roth is definitely a great event, but I wouldn’t put it above IMCH or Elba, both of which had much more “interesting” bike courses. How much of that 30 minutes I can attribute to the easier course, and the megabucks spent on TT bike and new wetsuit, and how much is actually my improvement I guess I’ll never know.

Elsewhere at the event, Chrissie beat her previous Roth world record by about 1minute (despite the change to the bike course) – 38mins ahead of the 2nd placed women and faster than all but 4 of the men. Andreas Raelart set a new world mens record (beating the 1 week old record from Austria) with a 7.41 – including a ridiculous 4:11 bike split (27mph!).

All in, not hitting 10hours is probably a good thing, if I’d hit the sub 10 I may not have felt compelled to do it all again next year, although that will be #5, and probably a good time to stop.

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