White sand beaches as far as the eye can see. The sun is reflected by the surface of the clear deep blue ocean and rays and jellyfish float beneath the surface. You could easily get used to the swim training on the coast of Florida. Especially if you came here from the cold Central European autumn, like Matthias Grosser did. Due to the short-term cancellation of the Challenge Kapstadt, the organisers of the established IRONMAN triathlon in Panama City Beach allowed some additional participants and the most successful member of the Memmert triathlon team was one of the lucky beneficiaries of this.
On November 5th, at 7 a.m., the shy sea dwellers hid on the ocean floor for some hours, as, 10 minutes after the professionals, the mass start of the other athletes was the beginning of a loud and joyful spectacle. At chilly 9 °C air temperature and accompanied by the "Go, go, go!” cheers of the excited fans, almost 3000 contestants waded into the water and swam the first 3.8 kilometres of the triathlon course.
The following cycle course was on the one hand fast, due to its only 400 height metres, on the other hand however, it demanded patience from the athletes due to changing wind conditions and respectively changing temperatures as well as endlessly long roads. Only the estimated 9 bends on 180 kilometres as well as the aid stations offered some diversion, otherwise Matthias and the other cyclists had to concentrate on a fixed point far away on the horizon. In contrast to other challenges, the cycle course in Florida had not been blocked off for traffic. However, this was no problem at all in the hospitable USA. Drivers passed the athletes slowly and patiently, waved and had encouraging words for everyone. In general, the excitement for the iron men and women was amazing. There was a huge party, especially along the running course. “Everybody pats you on the back encouragingly”, Matthias told us, “in America, the IRONMAN is not just a sports event. It is something very special.”
In the end, Matthias Grosser was very satisfied with his result and especially with his marathon run, which he finished in 3 hours and 19 minutes. It is a great challenge for the ambitious and talented athlete to deliver a top sports performance while still working hard in his job. While professionals go to training camps in warm regions, he comes home from his daily running or cycling training wet and freezing on cold winter evenings. Well done, Matthias! We are already looking forward to the next Challenge Roth!