Challenge Roth began well for the British with Harry Wiltshire leading out of the opening 3.8km swim in 47:24mins.
Left to right: Timo Bracht (GER), Nils Frommhold (GER), David Dellow (AUS)
Less than an hour later the women’s podium would be decided, and while a place on the 2015 men’s podium required a sub-8hr time, a place on the women’s would need an equally impressive sub-9hr time. Van Vlerken took the top step, to gain her third Roth crown, with 8:50: 53, while Lester (8:53:09) and Beranek (8:55:19) followed her home in second and third.
Local hero Beranek was especially happy with her time – a new personal best that also won her the German long-distance championship title – as she had crashed out of last year’s race on the bike leg. “I didn’t think about last year when I was out there. I just thought about all the experiences I had when I was growing up and training here, which are all such good memories.
“My strategy was to try and get away on the bike because I needed to get away from the fast runners but I didn’t have the best legs today and I couldn’t open up as big a gap as I needed… But overall it was a good performance and I’m very happy with it.”
Anja Beranek crosses the line in just under 9hrs
Van Vlerken, who had thought her race might be ruined after a seemingly severe reaction to an insect bite earlier in the week, was just glad to take the win. “My energy was just gone by kilometre 32 on the run. But the spectators on the course were amazing – they really pushed me through. Every time I started to walk they would shout, “No! You can’t walk” So I had to start running again. It was very hard… I suffered out there but when you win you don’t feel it anymore.”
She wasn’t the only victor to suffer. Men’s winner Frommhold also had to toil harder than he’d hoped in the closing stages. “My bike performance was pretty strong and that was why I suffered on the run quite a lot. From about the 12km mark I had to start taking some short walking breaks and I wasn’t really able to enjoy the last 3km and take in the support of the spectators… It might take a few days for what I did here to sink in but I’m very proud of what happened today.”
Second-placed Bracht was pleased to show there’s still life in him yet. “All the stories this weekend have been about ‘Timo Bracht is turning 40 in days’ time, he’s an old man’. But it’s not bad going under 8hrs. I said I will end my career with my best race performance and today I was 30secs too slow so I need anther year of training before I can think about stopping.”
Australia’s David Dellow on the bike at Challenge Roth
It had not only been an eventful day for third-place finisher Dellow, as the Australian’s last seven days had been filled with drama. “I was racing in Ironman Frankfurt last weekend and punctured on the bike. So that was disappointing.
“But the next day at breakfast my friends said, ‘well why not try Roth?’ So we got on the phone and the guys here were kind enough to give me a slot and that puncture turned out to be a blessing in disguise.”
For full results head here.
(All images: Getty)
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