Athletes, helpers, friends of the company, employees and relatives were standing in and around the Memmert double-decker bus directly next to the finishing line, when the most spectacular closing fireworks the Challenge Roth had ever seen lit up the night sky. The Memmert contact point around the vintage bus was celebrating its premiere this year and was welcomed with great enthusiasm by invited guests and employees. In a relaxed atmosphere, yet right where it was all happening, people enjoyed the excellent catering, cool drinks and exchanging information on events on this exciting day. Those who wanted were able to see the finishers running into the stadium and cheer on the athletes just before the finish, or to simply put their feet up. At the end of the day, managing director Christiane Riefler-Karpa, who ran the long-distance for the third time in succession, was also there with her three daughters, exhausted but happy. “My bones will ache for at least the next four days“, she said, smiling, “but things will get better after that.” We very much hope so, and congratulate her once again on this fantastic performance.
After having taken part as a marthon runner in the relay team for many years Peter Krieger made his dream come true of running the long-distance all alone. In the morning, the signs had looked anything but promising. 25 minutes before the swimming started, Peter discovered that he had a flat tire on his bike, and it was only thanks to an international aid action with the help of a Japanese and British athlete that he managed to change his inner tube in time, pull on his neoprene suit and dive into the water. He was very pleased with his times for swimming and cycling, and a desired overall time of 12 hours seemed to be feasible, but on the running lap, the struggle not to give up already began from kilometre 5. First, stomach problems and sickness, and then, from kilometre 21, heavy legs as well as the knowledge that you still had another long 21 km to go – it's no surprise that the question why you do this to yourself runs through your head. In the end, it was only about making it to the finishing line for Peter, and since his overall time started with 12, he was quite satisfied with his performance. And of course we are as well, Peter. Once again, congratulations for making your dream come true!
Someone else who also asked himself “why” during the competition at least 100 times, as he says himself, is Jörn Wiegand, who in his main job is managing director of Wiegand International Lab Equipment in Hamburg. A loyal spectator for many years at the Challenge, he was the one who came up with the idea of including customers in the Memmert relays. This year, he made his debut as the final runner in team Memmert 3, and commented his race in dry Hanseatic fashion: “It was tough, as a marathon is meant to be. But it was good that I was at least well rested when I started.” We thank you most warmly, Jörn, that you were a part of the Memmert family, and we look forward to next year and promise that we will reserve a plate of pasta for you.
Janina Bittmann, 20 years old and a trainee at Memmert, is a phenomenon. Although she’s quite a delicate person, she gave a great performance with her first marathon run for Memmert’s team 4. A year ago, she decided spontaneously to run in the relay team, and from this day onwards, she consistently stuck to her training four to five times per week. In answer to the question of what sporting experience she had brought along, she smiled: “I sat on the couch for two years and before that, I rode for nine years.” The best prerequisites to try out the unknown adventure of a marathon. “It went well at the beginning, but from kilometre 18, I felt ill and that continued to the end,” she said in the evening, “unfortunately, I started the race too quickly.” She was a bit afraid before and during the race, as prior to the Challenge Roth, she had only run a single half marathon under competition conditions, as well as a 30 km training run. At the end, it was only her head and the thought of the medal that made her hold on. And it was the yearned for medal that helped her get over the fact that she hadn't quite achieved her desired time of under five hours. But she will certainly cherish the best moments of this day for a long time, when she was being cheered on enthusiastically by friends and acquaintances. Especially at the bridge in Eckersmühlen, under which the runners pass and which they cross twice shortly afterwards, her fans were with her nearly all the time and had encouraged her to hold on. Our warmest congratulations, Janina, you did incredibly well!
At the bridge in question, the Memmert barbecue stand had been put up. Of course, the international Memmert customer group, led as always by-triathlon coach Benni Lindberg through the Challenge events, parked their bikes there at midday to make acquaintance with 2 sausages in a bread roll (or “2 im Weckla” in Franconian), before hurrying to the stadium in order not to miss the winners finishing. Organised by Memmert’s man for all occasions, Björn Reif, the footballers of SV Abenberg and their wives provided food and refreshments for Memmert employees, friends of the company and spectators passing by. Christiane Riefler-Karpa had sponsored the football team with a set of track suits. In return, the Abenberg group devoted themselves to a good cause, as the proceeds from the sales at the barbecue booth will benefit the children’s aid association “Kinderhilfe Eckental”, with their stuffed animal campaign “Trösterteddy”. 800 sausages, 400 bread rolls and scores of cool drinks were sold, donations collected and at the end of the day, the hard-working helpers were proud to have collected a total sum of 1,000 € for the initiative in support of sick children. The “Trösterteddy” campaign promotes the use of hospital clowns, aimed at helping children through their difficult time in hospital, and at speeding up the healing process. In recent years, an estimated 120,000 “comfort teddy bears" were given to children in over 500 clinics and hospitals. More information on this campaign, and on the donor bank account, can be found at www.kinderhilfe-eckental.de
This year’s Challenge Roth was also a premiere for the three Memmertians Mark Fischer, Gregor Stützinger and Harald von Blumenthal. Gregor Stützinger, an old hand at the triathlon, took part in a Memmert relay for the first time. With 5 hours and 10 minutes, he produced an outstanding time on the bike for team Memmert 2, especially when you consider that just a week before, he had completed the Ironman Austria in Klagenfurt as an individual starter. Mark Fischer, Memmert customer consultant for western Germany and a top class swimmer in his youth, also achieved a super result in the canal for team 2, with a time of 59 minutes and 27 seconds. Both of them enjoyed not only their sporting successes on this day, but above all their experience as part of the Memmert family and the many funny moments.
Harald von Blumenthal, also a long-serving relay member, had this year given himself a special birthday present, and stepped up not for the running, as he usually did, but for the cycling course. It seems that next year, Memmert will have to start looking for a new first choice marathon runner. Harald has fulfilled his dream of completing the Challenge on his bike and judging by his reaction, he will stick to that: “Just awesome!”, was his first comment, consisting of just two words. He had previously been given two important tips by other triathletes: ride as if you were going to have to run afterwards, and during the race, drink chicken soup instead of the “sickly sweet stuff” at the support stations. The suggestions were obviously helpful, as apart from the fact that from kilometre 150 “his legs nearly fell off”, the race was one big highlight. To the three of you and to all the other relay team members, our warmest thanks for a great day out with you!
Where would the greatest triathlon festival in the world be without the thousands of voluntary helpers? Many Memmertians were also at work at the supply stations or helping out with the fire service and the Red Cross. We would like to personally give our warm thanks to Sandra Meßthaler and her sister Patrizia, Romina Löhlein, Carolin Ruff, Lisa Schwab and her brother, Daniel Cooper, Nina Kuhn, Jörg Häßlein and Robert Gaberle. The names of others who might have helped out as well haven’t filtered through to us yet, so we will simply express our general thanks to everyone involved. And this extends to the management, and in particular Christiane Riefler-Karpa, who, with the vintage bus, the organised Challenge Tour and the barbecue booth on the course, helped to make this day a special day to remember once again.
|Team Memmert 1 (Dietrich/Achtnicht/Saim)||12:22:55|
|Team Memmert 2 (Fischer/Stützinger/G. Weiß)||10:06:58|
|Team Memmert 3 (Konschak/v. Blumenthal/Wiegand)|
|Team Memmert 4 (F. Weiß/Hamm/Bittmann)||12:38:30|
|Team Memmert 5 (S. Weiß/Raeke/Röser)||08:42:28|