Friday, July 15, 2011

Challenge Roth Race Report

At the beginning of the day I knew my gold medal was going to be a podium finish and that’s exactly where I ended up, 3rd place in the biggest race in Europe, Challenge Roth. I have never experienced a crowd like it, I thought Challenge Copenhagen was pretty special with over 100,000 people on the course last yr in the middle of town. But the German people, over 180,000 of them packing the climbs and run course made an unbelievable atmosphere. Turning the corner and approaching the Solaberg for the first time, I had goosebumps on my arms and couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing. During the run I used a Ipod for the first 20k and numerous times, I couldn’t even hear the music for the crowd noise. I said during the press conference it was like been at a rock concert and that wasn’t a joke!

It’s a definite must do race if you are ever coming to Europe or want to experience something very special.

So to my race, I was pretty relaxed race morning and rode the 1km on a Cruiser bike to the start area. The swim is down one side of a canal and back up the other side. My swimming has been going really well and prior to the race that was what I was least worried about, but it ended up being my worst section of the race. I got a little pumped at the start and after 1500m or so found myself just of the back of the second bunch. From there the gap stretched and I ended up leading the rest of the swim with the 3rd bunch. Out of the water in about 30th position and there was not many bikes left in the Pro rack which was not the best start to the day. Time 51min30sec

Long distance races are all about keeping going and not giving in, so I knew I just had to quickly forget about it and get on with the bike. I slowly started picking off riders and formed a little group with two other athletes Rota and Fuches. I had no idea how far back from the main group I was and the German bike axes who where further of the front. Riding up the Greding climb I could see a large pack of men about 1min up the road. By time we had got to the Solaberg we had bridged the gap and I knew I was back in the race apart from Andreas Raelert who was doing a demolition ride. The rest of the ride I tried to keep the pace steady, look after the nutrition and get the legs ready for the run.  Riding up the Solaberg was insane with the noise and crowd. I think there must of been at least 20guys together at the top of the Solaberg, but by time I jumped off the bike the group was down to about 6 guys.

So I was off the bike in 11th with a 4hr26min ride but had no idea of this during the race. My german is not the best, just a couple of words J so couldn’t understand any of the people yelling at me.

Into the run and the legs felt pretty good for the first 10k, by time I was at the first turn around I could see Raelart and Kienle where a long way up the road, but everyone else ahead was in striking distance. The legs started to feel pretty heavy after 15k but I was still catching/moving along ok. At the 27k mark I saw James on the side of the road, and was into 4th with Ritter not far ahead. I then caught Ritter running through the forest and finally had a push bike with me, what I was wanting at the start of the day, meaning I was in third. The last couple of kilometres where through town and back on to the pavement, they where pretty tough but I knew I had third in the bag unless I blew pretty bad. So I tried to enjoy the last section, even if the photos don’t show it! So the run ended up being a 2hr54min and total time 8hr16min.

I have massive respect for Raelert  who absolutely smashed the course for the win, and has moved the bar so much higher and Kienle with another great race. Also Chrissie Wellington, she again showed what a amazing athlete she is.

 I am super stoked to get on the Podium, its definitely a career highlight so far. I am still waiting to lay down a really good run this year which I know is waiting in the legs, so some more work before Challenge Copenhagen in 4 weeks time and hopefully I can put together a complete performance.

A big thanks to my homestay family, it’s been so easy preparing for the race and to Felix and the Challenge crew, another great race in the Challenge family of events.

Also, check out the Utube video at the bottom of page, world famous table run after the prize giving between Felix and a young french pro 

Ritter, Schuman, Me, Kienle, Raelert

Running into finish

Pleased to be finished


Emlyn said...

Nice work, you can run faster though.

Ange H said...

Awesome job Keegan!

Jocelyn Wong said...

Kiwi man, I am sooo soooo proud of you!!!

debinz said...

Awesome, I wanna race Roth one day - looks crazy cool with all the crowds!