The unique atmosphere at this triathlon event, which attracts 5,000 athletes to the starting line every year, is unrivalled to this day. No triathlete should miss riding up the Solar Hill at least once in their life feeling as if they had taken part in a leg of the Tour de France. On crossing the finish line the spectators' favourite, an overwhelmed Jan Frodeno could only say: "Now I know why Roth is the most awesome race in the world" and he was not referring to the fast track on which he had just set up a world record of 7:35:39, but mainly to the fantastic Roth spectators and 4,000 helpers along the way.
The Süddeutsche Zeitung coined it the "Roth Passion Play" in an attempt to capture both the fascination and at times physical pain of the challenge involving 3.8 km of swimming, 180 km of cycling and 42.2 km of running. Entering the Challenge Arena, the triathlon's “Centre Court”, at the end of the course totalling 226 km, makes up for everything. Everyone crossing the finishing line enjoys a victor's welcome from the crowd until late in the evening, the last to do so met by a spectacular fireworks display.
The athletes come from 71 countries, one even from Ethiopia, our industrial electrician apprentice, Engles Shenkutie Mekonnen. He put on a great performance at his first ever marathon (3:12:29) as the glorious final leg runner in our 3-continent-relay team along with his swimmer colleague Peter Krieger and cyclist Laszlo Abendroth from our business partner AISATEC Bolivia. The spell of the Challenge is hard to let go and Laszlo will be returning next year, perhaps as an individual starter. Sport forges ties that go beyond business relations. Laszlo, we look forward to seeing you again!
Team Memmert Lukas Storath entered as an individual starter for the first time. The aspiring triathlete executed a superb début, finishing in 38th place at 8:58:47, thus even less than the magical nine hours. Matthias Grosser, who took second place in the Memmert team, could be well-pleased with his time of 9:25:30.
Not quite so international, but certainly colourful were our other six Memmert teams. Newcomers and experienced competitors shared disciplines as already at the Memmert Rothsee Triathlon. Swimmers Hanno Dietrich and Mark Fischer are practically old hands. For newcomer Marina Sauer the 180 km cycle circuit was unknown territory. Nevertheless she made an excellent job of it in 5:38:40 and could be justifiably proud of her performance. Leaving the transition zone virtually at the same time, Matthias Röser and Stephan Gersching battled against each other in an in-team duel, Gersching just finishing ahead with 4:49:45 to 4.49:57. With one of the fastest marathon times of the day (2:41:15) Sven Ehrhardt led our first men's team to sixth place in the overall ranking. The women did even better, Sophia Ramsauer, Maria Paulig and Andrea Diethers finished third place on the coveted Challenge Podium.
Celebrations were not limited to the finish line, but all along the course. While children had fun in the bouncy castle and sportspeople and spectators enjoyed a good atmosphere with a live band, at the Memmert Hotspot in Schwand, kilometre 12.5 of the race circuit, water and cheers of encouragement heartened the runners over the next kilometres.
Team Memmert's own meeting point close to the finish line drew family, fans and later finishers to a cosy get-together with Franconian sausages, cool drinks and plenty talk about the "longest day" as the long distance triathlon is dubbed.