After my race in Roth 2 years ago I knew I’ll be back. Challenge Roth is much better then any other race I’ve done. Last year I was back but only as a spectator due to illness and this year I was back on the start line.
Swim went well until half way point. Our group got split in half and I was on the wrong side of the crack. My attempt to catch back up failed so I decided to let others do the pacing and save some energy for the rest of the day.
Once on the bike I went on the hunt. I could only guess my position so I went harder in the hope that I might catch a group with some well-known names. After 15-20km I passed everyone from the faster part of my swim group. Few guys followed me but after the hill in Greding I was on my own.
A long, lonely period followed. I got stuck in no mans land between two groups. It seemed like I’m keeping a good pace but it also seemed like I won’t be able to hold the same pace untill the end.
Some relay teams passed me in the second loop but I didn’t have the legs to go with them. Timo Bracht also passed me after he had a mechanical but he was too fast as well.
As the day progressed the wind grew stronger and that didn’t do us any favors as it was a headwind on the way back into transition. Average speed started going south, but the others slowed down as well and I managed to pass a few guys in the last 20km. At first McNeice and Niedrig, a bit later Petzold and just before the transition I caught Blanchart. All of them are well-known names, so I assumed the things were going in the right direction.
I planned to go a bit easier in the first 10-15 km of the run and then try to pick it up if I feel good. Despite a conservative approach, first 5km were slightly below 4 min/km. In addition, I found out I was in 11th spot so it seemed like I’m on a route to my best result so far.
Few moments later I was not so sure any more. The pace suddenly dropped to around 4:20 min/km. I tried to remain optimistic by blaming the head wind. At the first turnaround after about 13 km I saw a big line of guys not far behind me and that didn’t help to lift my spirits. Crowd support influenced a few faster kilometers through Schwand and then the pace slipped to 4:20 min/km again. Only this time even that pace felt a bit hard to keep. I feared what will happen later if even that early in the marathon 4:20 pace feels hard.
Somehow I kept the same pace until the next turnaround at 30k mark. In the meantime some guys passed me and I passed some others. At the turnaround I counted that I’m in 13th spot. Not long after, I passed two guys and found myself on the edge of top10. When another competitor appeared on the horizon around 38k, life got back into my legs. Those last 4k were the fastest in the race. I managed to pass him and crossed the finish line happy for a top10 result. Few moments later that happiness eased a bit as I found out my counting skills were not up to task and was actually in 11th spot.
My goal was to improve on my result from two years ago. I gave my best but unfortunately it was not good enough to improve the time nor the placing. On a bright side this was another sub 8:30 performance and the fact remains that my slowest ironman time is 8:28h. I still think I’m in best shape so far and I hope to prove it soon.