Roth Race Report
“Why do I put myself through this?”.
Pulling on my running shoes, this question goes through my head.
One of the hundreds of Roth volunteers - Martina- helping me take off my cycling top and bagging up the helmet, shoes and socks from the bike leg.
Only 42.2k or 42,200 meters or 4.22 10k runs or two half marathons or one marathon. How hard can that be? Temperature in the low to mid thirties, legs screaming from the bike and Martina telling me “ you are nearly finished”.
Absolutely right – nearly completely finished. Two gel shocks and half a bottle of electrolytes and I am on my out of T2 with the words from Jim going through my head.
Arriving in Roth two days before the race, checked in and collected the transition bags. Very very slick, friendly and efficient. The town of Roth had an energy about it, very welcoming of the 3,500 triathletes that would cause havoc on the local roads and mayhem through the town on race day.
Roth has a respect for the visiting triathletes making everyone - athletes and supporters Sarah raced in the women only 5k on the Saturday (after much trauma caused by me, just made the start on time). I managed to stub and brake a toe – perfect pre race prep.The rest of the day spent hydrating – five maybe six bottles with two electrolyte tabs in each. Racked and stacked mid afternoon then in to “social media lock down” – clear head.
We were recommended to camp at the swim start – fantastic tip which made the race morning very very relaxed. Our neighbours – German one side, British the other. The German guy was racing his first long course, the British couple Jim and Jenny from South London( with their dog Bonnie – a seven month old Spaniel pup). Jim was racing Jenny supporting. Jim was a Kona finisher and, tri coach for fun with a dry sense of humour.
Start time was 7-40AM. Time for ablutions, food and hydration. Three bottles with two electrolyte tabs in each. Very well hydrated. Elite men went off at 6-30, elite women at 6.35. Age groupers in waves of 200 every 5 mins there after. The swim is in a canal, not a clogged up, weed ridden, over grown stretch of stagnant water we might see in the Uk, but a major water way for huge barges. Water temp was 23 deg – perfect!
Gun went off and my wave start the swim – very surreal and peaceful. The running plan was to pace at 6-15mins/km – gel shock every 15 mins and water at every drink station. Two kilometres in, all going to plan, nice pace – downhill. Experience on a bike has taught me that for every downhill there is a climb. On this run, there are a number of climbs. Not short sharp shocks, but long drawn out drags up hill that hurt. Stick to the plan.
Swim was solid, felt very relaxed - that was reflected in the split – supposed to be a race.
Into T1, volunteers helping with wet suits, bag drop offs – brilliant. Running into the changing tent, the pre race hydrating was obvious. I can only hope that the volunteer who helped with my wet suit thought that I must have had a lot of canal water trapped following the swim. Top of the first drag on the run, levelled out checked the pace – all good – 39k to go. Jim’s words going through my head!
The Roth bike course is two laps – deceptively hilly – 1900 meters ( by Strava which means it must be right). Undulating, big sky, large fields and windy. Just like the Dengie but without loose gravel, pot holes, drain covers, abuse and crap drivers. Huge support through the villages around Roth, closed roads with the police officers joining in the support. I was aware of the support on Solar Climb, but nothing could prepare me for the size of the crowd, noise and cheering on that hill. Rounding the corner on the bike, the road disappears in to a mass of people – would appear to be no way through. As the road rises, people move at the last minute and I am riding though a human wall, cheering, waving shouting “go Kees” (Germans struggle to pronounce the th). I take one hand off the bar, fist waving in the air high fiving all the way up the hill – the greatest cycling experience ever.
Sarah managed to get to two locations on the bike course – always smiling, cheering me on – always a boost for me. Sarah must love supporting tri – keeps on coming to these races. Ten kilometres in, another two climbs – back up the hills I had run down earlier. This was now starting to hurt. Lack of run training really starting to pay off. So far the calf was holding up and my toe not too painful. Keep going. Jim’s words still going through my head. 170k done on the bike, good time – maybe the sub 12 goal was on.
Into T2, bike taken by a marshal, and Martina helping me get out on to the run. The Roth marathon is two laps – passing though Roth and the adjacent villages three maybe four times. Streets are lined with tables, locals listening to live music, eating and drinking with 3,500 lunatics running past them – beer has never looked so good – stick to the plan – gel shocks and water.
Bloody hell that beer looked good in the mid afternoon sun, Quick check on the watch and pace – sub 12 possible.
Keep going 20k to go – bloody hell Jim. Over half way (30k) heading back to Roth, Chrissie Wellington is waving, calling out names running up hill – making running look so easy – light on her feet and covering the ground. My running style resembles a hunched version of “Quasi” dragging one or other or both kegs along the ground in some desperate attempt to keep moving forward. Gel shocks are beginning to have an effect – in my stomach – not on style. Last 5k, more words of encouragement from the supports in Roth - ‘Kees you are looking good” – bullshit. A woman shouts “Kees, all the ladies think you are hot” – yeah – hot and sweaty in need of a good wash and decent meal, “Kees, you are nearly finished” – I was finished when I got off the bike.
Finally Into the stadium in Roth, packed full of supporters. Check the clock – sub 12 - medal, tee shirt, Erdinger glass and the mixed tent/changing. Had to check out the lining on the tri suit before walking across to the showers butt naked – luckily no major issues.
Back at the camp site with Sarah, sitting in the evening sun, beer and burger, chilling out and reflecting on why I put myself through this.The race day highs and lows, the experience of competing with athletes from all over the world - regardless of age, gender, creed, colour ability etc etc etc, the encouragement from friends/family and the friends I now have through the hours spent training with run, bike and swim buddies.
This is reason why I put myself through this! Challenge Roth – exceeded my expectations. Tough and inspiring course, the support from the locals throughout the whole race for the elites and age group athletes was incredible – I have not seen or likely to see this level of support again.
Totally understand why this race tops the list of races to enter. Oh yes, Jim’s words “you are not a big bloke, your running should be much better than it is”. Goal for next race and the one after that and after that……