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Dispatch: Quips & Quotes From The Pros At Challenge Roth

  • By Holly Bennett
  • Published Jul 5, 2012

This week “Dispatch” columnist Holly Bennett is on the road in Germany to cover Challenge Roth. Watch for extended online coverage from our roving correspondent throughout the week.

Here in Roth, a tiny village in Bavaria, Germany, 5,224 athletes are gathered to compete in Sunday’s Challenge Roth. The field includes 3,268 individual racers and 652 relay teams from 62 nations – an astonishingly large and diverse field. Today’s press conference focused on ten of these athletes, five men and five women professionals each aiming for a place atop the podium. It’s obvious that athletes flock to Roth for several reasons, two of the most compelling being the overall Challenge experience as well as the potential for personal best times on a course that boasts both the men’s and women’s long-distance triathlon world records. Following are an assortment of quips and quotes from this morning’s press event.

The Women

Julia Gajer – Germany (Gajer is the reigning European half-distance champion and last year’s 2nd place finisher at Challenge Roth. Sunday’s race will mark this pre-race favorite’s second attempt at the longer distance.)

“Long distance is always different than a half, and this is only my second long-distance triathlon ever. Now, sitting here among the favorites, I wouldn’t have imagined that one year ago. It feels absolutely special.”

“I’m expecting an extremely close race and also an extremely fast race.”

Sonja Tajsich – Germany (Tajisch had her long-distance debut in Roth in 2002 and has not returned since. Instead, she’s been busy winning titles at Ironman Malaysia [2002], Ironman South Africa [2010] and Ironman Regensburg [2010].)

“I’m extremely excited! 2002 was so incredible for me. I had goose bumps on race morning! This race is what made me want to continue as a long-distance athlete. I’m so glad to be back 10 years later.”

“If conditions are right, then several women could finish below nine hours. The question is, how much below!”

Rachel Joyce – Great Britain (2011’s ITU Long-Distance World Champion also owns an Ironman title from Lanzarote [2011] and a 2nd place finish at the 2011 Ironman Melbourne. Yet she’s most widely known for her impressive 4th place at last year’s Ironman World Championship in Kona.)

“Yesterday I rode around the bike course. It didn’t feel particularly fast, but based on past times it must be. I’m hoping I’ll be quicker on Sunday!”

“Going sub-nine in Melbourne [where Joyce finished in 8:46:09] had been something I’d wanted to do for so long. Now that I’ve done it once, I want to do it again – and even faster!”

“I did Challenge Kraichgau last year. I didn’t have a great race but I had a great experience, which is why I wanted to come to Roth.”

Lucie Zelenkova-Reed – Czech Republic (Olympian Zelenkova-Reed claimed champion titles at the 2010 Challenge Barcelona and the 2009 Ironman South Africa.)

“I don’t know what to expect – ask me on Sunday afternoon! I think I’m the only one on the panel who doesn’t have a sub-nine hour PB, so I hope to change that.”

Belinda Granger – Australia (Granger, a veteran of more than 40 long-distance triathlons and numerous titles, is widely considered the darling of this event, as Sunday will mark her 9th year racing Challenge Roth. She won the 2005 race in a time of 9:14:06.)

“As long as I’m still standing and moving forward, I’ll be here again next year. The reason is simple – I believe it to be the greatest race experience. And that starts from the time I get off the plane until the time I get back on. I truly believe I’m a citizen of Roth!”

“The race is very important to me, but I’m at a point in my career where if I can sneak into the top five I’ll be over the moon. Getting across the finish line is all I expect, but if I can get inside the top five I’ll be so happy!”

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