To much pomp and circumstance, the top seeded professional men and women set to compete at Challenge Roth on Sunday were introduced to members of the media. Following are sound bites from Thursday’s press conference.
Dirk Bockel (LUX)
On his rookie appearance in Roth.
“It’s actually not my first time here. When I was a boy I camped here to watch many times. I’ve seen some of the great Roth races. And I came here in the winter and rode the bike course with Felix–in the snow! It’s been a dream of mine often to race here. In 23 years of triathlon I’ve never experienced something like this with the homestay and the community and the excitement.”
Maik Petzold (GER)
On his first long-distance race, following an Olympic career and a surprise win at the half-distance Challenge Kraichgau in June.
“That was just half the distance, this is different and truly an adventure for me. I told Felix this was something I never thought I would try. I supported my dad when he was trying to qualify for Kona and at the time I could not understand why someone would want to do this! But now I look at it like climbing Mt. Everest. Of course I really want to reach the top, but I also want to come down healthy as well.”
Dylan McNeice (NZL)
On losing his “under the radar” status after winning both Challenge Wanaka and Challenge Taiwan, his first and second ever iron-distance events.
“I guess from 12 months ago it’s a whole new world for me. Before I won Taiwan Felix told me he was hoping I could come in under the radar and surprise people. But now being called a favorite, I guess the pressure’s on. But I love it.”
On his race tactics.
“If I try and race all these guys I’m not going to go very well. I think I need to just race my own race and aim for that eight-hour barrier. And I think if I get close to that I’ll be very happy. A Kiwi male has never been under eight hours and I know Cam Brown and I are both chasing that.”
Timo Bracht (GER)
On his hopes for a long sought after win in Roth, and whether he’s found that “missing percent” since last year, when he finished second.
“Honestly, I have to say yeah. I just have to hope it will be sufficient on Sunday. Every day is a new day. I think it’s going to be a very tight race but I will try not to look to the left or the right but rather focus on my own race. Over the course of a race here there are waves that go up and down, and I certainly hope that my wave will break on Sunday.”
James Cunnama (RSA)
On his position and preparedness as defending champion.
“Last year’s race was pretty near perfect, but you don’t have days like that very often. The rest of the year last year didn’t go as well and I had a bad bike crash in January. Then I had really good races at Ironman Texas and at Eagleman, so I feel very good now. But I will be a marked man, so we’ll see how it goes. Like everyone else I’m going to do my own race and hope it’s the one that gets across the line first. Defending a title is much harder than winning it in the first place. But I feel fitter and stronger than I did last year, so I’ll just leave that out there and we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully I’ll have more than one second to spare this year!” [Cunnama just broke the eight-hour mark in 2012, finishing in 7:59:59.]
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Belinda Granger (AUS)
On her 10th and final race in Roth and whether she plans to compete seriously or to simply soak up the experience.
“I like to call it my 10th birthday–it makes me feel young! I’ll always be involved here, whether it’s packing race bags next year or doing a relay. Not only is this race incredibly addictive, it’s the greatest long distance race in the world. I don’t think I’ll be in the mix for the top spot, but I still have that competitive spirit and I’ll be giving it everything I’ve got. I’ve never finished outside the top ten here, even last year when I really struggled and it was quite close. But regardless of what happens, that last few kilometers through town on the run course, no matter how much you are hurting you can’t help but smile.”
Julia Gajer (GER)
On her prospects for a top finish, after placing second in her iron-distance debut in 2011 and third in 2012.
“I’m truly looking forward to this race; it’s my third long distance race and my third time in Roth, so that pretty much says it all. It feels as if every year the competition has grown a bit. That doesn’t scare me; it does make me feel with all these more accomplished athletes a little bit like a rookie again. But I’m really looking forward to it!”
Sonja Tajsich (GER)
On her runner up status in Roth in 2012 and her strong showing as the most successful German athlete at the Ironman World Championship, where she finished fourth.
“I hope I’m not too far away from this victory. I’m sure we all have this goal of winning on Sunday. But I’ve really been focused on this race. It’s going to be the highlight if my year here in Germany.”
Yvonne Van Vlerken (NLD)
On her status as a two-time champion in Roth (2007 and 2008).
“It feels really good to be back. Even when I raced in Frankfurt I said my heart was in Roth! It’s my German home and it feels great to be back.”
Caroline Steffen (SUI)
On her first impressions of Roth and her status as a heavy favorite.
“So far so good! I’ve heard so much about this race, Belinda and the other girls have told me so many stories, so I really look forward to being part of the history here. Last year I had an 8:36 in Melbourne so I’m looking forward to seeing what’s possible here in Roth, and to compare to the great times that were achieved by Chrissie [Wellington] and the other girls.”
Newly appointed Challenge Family ambassador Chris “Macca” McCormack, who will race the swim leg as part of a Team MaccaX fundraising relay team, was also on hand for the press conference and was invited to share a few words:
Chris “Macca” McCormack
“It’s the first time I’ve viewed the press conference from the bleachers! It’s a pleasure to be back and will be wonderful to watch how the race unfolds. Last time I came here as a spectator in 1997 the world record was broken. So please guys and girls, entertain me!”
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