Team Memmert meets MIP Challenge Roth 2013

When 5,000 athletes and 220,000 spectators storm the placid town of Roth with its 24,000 inhabitants in the metropolitan region of Nuremberg, everyone knows: It's time for Europe's biggest triathlon, the world-wide most popular CHALLENGE ROTH.


Challenge: The name speaks for itself; it's the sport event of the year in the region that goes crazy for triathlons. 3.8 km swimming, 180 km cycling and 42.2 km running have to be tackled. Meanwhile, the unique "Challenge Family"-atmosphere is generally known as “Challenge Family” and draws athletes but spectators from all countries to the course.

The atmosphere in the “Memmert Family” is also unique. In its fifth year of competing, there are 10 individual starters, 6 relay teams and an international fan base of an amazing 70 customers that travelled to Roth especially for the event. Not to forget the vast number of colleagues and volunteers rooting for their team.

Memmert’s Important People meet the Challenge

Not only the athletes had to get up early, the fans were also brought to the swim start at the Main-Danube Canal at 5.30 in the morning with a shuttle bus. Having arrived there, a specially arranged Memmert breakfast was waiting for them. The double decker bus was a real highlight and from the top of which everyone could enjoy the beautiful view over the transition zone and the rising sun at the canal. And the athletes? They were occupied with the final touch: inflating the tyres, checking the helmets, getting their shoes out...

At 6.30 am, the starting signal sounded for the first group with the fastest athletes – including six Team Memmert individual starters. Among them, Matthias Grosser left the water after a new record time of 56:52 min. He was closely followed by Stephan Gersching, who managed to finish the 3.8 km swim after 58:15 min and therefore also below the sought-after time limit of one hour. Shortly afterwards, Bianca Schubert finished the swim as the female Memmert representative and left team colleagues Christian Pickl, Günther Lauterbach and Matthias Röser behind. The top 6 successfully completed the first discipline and went off for the 180 km long cycling course. Christian Pickl, however, first did an artistic somersault over his bicycle. Luckily, he didn’t injure himself. Benjamin Kohler, Patrick Osswald, Marco Eckstein and Alexander Baumstark started then with the second discipline.

In the meantime, our international fan base mounted bicycles in small groups in order to cheer on the athletes along the cycling course. They were not only accompanied by Memmert employees from the Sales department but Team Memmert sport guides were at their disposal the whole day with help and advice. Among them were the two professional triathletes Alexander Haas, X-Terra world champion, and Dorian Wagner, Challenge record holder in the region (8:19 h).

Hot spot at the course both for the fans and triathletes is the “Solarer Berg” - the venue for the masses who practically cheer the athletes uphill. Everyone from the scene agrees that the feeling of “being a part of it” and the “goose bumps” cannot be bigger at any other competition in the world. “You are glad to wear sunglasses when a few tears are starting to build up in your eyes,” was the emotional statement of Benny Kohler on his Roth premiere. He was not alone with this feeling. Professional athlete and winner of the day Dirk Bockel said he felt the same way when describing the unprecedented atmosphere at the finish line. Of course, the red white Memmert fan crew was right in the middle of the spectacle and obviously enjoyed it.

While the athletes fought for every second, our Challenge guests on the bicycle could take it a little bit easier. The next hot spot, which had to be passed three times, the “Beer Mile”, promised a cooling off in the rising temperatures. There, the passing cyclists were cheered on vociferously again. Meanwhile, some of our relay team members, who started the race a little later, were also on the road. Leading the way was Benedikt Spangenberg, who has transformed from a triathlon freshman to an absolute long runner and even wants to compete as an individual starter next year. With less time pressure but surely having just as much fun, Peter Englisch, Harald von Blumenthal, Ronal Mühe, Dirk Andrä and our managing director Christiane Riefler-Karpa followed him.

Those with a great hunger made themselves comfortable in the Arndt Memmert VIP tent at the start of the running course. Besides excellent catering, a bouncy castle and helicopter flights, an entertaining programme waited there for our guests and their families. Jürgen Gambert, our commercial director, couldn’t be kept from standing up and cheering on each Memmert runner on the course.  Whoever was cheering for the athletes could go to our Memmert barbecue stand, traditionally located at the turning point, and get refreshing drinks or a bratwurst roll for a small donation. The total proceeds will support a charity project dedicated to children in Rwanda.

Team Memmert among the front runners

When the triumphant victor Dirk Bockel from Luxembourg crossed the finish line, a group of Memmert fans was live at the stands. Caroline Steffen from Switzerland was the first woman to wave the banner at the finish line. They both thanked their fans from Roth for their support by spontaneously promising to come back next year. It didn’t take long until the first Memmert starter, Matthias Grosser, also arrived. He was the only one who had the patience necessary to save some energy when cycling and, despite the heat, achieved a new personal best of 9:12:11 h, doing a good marathon. The real icing on the cake for him was becoming vice world champion in the ranking for firefighters. However, this wasn‘t supposed to be the only title he received that day. He was followed by Matthias Röser and Stephan Gersching, finishing second and third from Team Memmert in 9:21:29h and 9:22:43 h, which was so fast that Memmert also made second place in the team competition of the German championship. Finishing after only 10:43:52h, debutante Bianca Schubert was overjoyed to have won silver in her age group.

Little by little, one red and white jersey after the other crossed the time mat. There were two things they all had in common: the feeling of happiness and the smile on their lips, which made everyone forget about the physical hardships and strain. Christian Pickl struggled with his 9:36:53 h, as he had bid too high on the running course. In light of his recent injury, Günther Lauterbach was satisfied with his result of 9:52:37 h. Two more happy faces were the ones of Alexander Baumstark (10:12:38 h) and Benjamin Kohler (10:17:51 h). Although Marco Eckstein had wished for a slightly faster time than 10:18:11 h, his marathon record put him at ease. Patrick Osswald, who had flown in from Singapore specifically for the event, was also hoping on a better result than 11:44:05 h. However, the heat at the canal had unexpectedly affected him so severely that he had to sit down in the cool shadows for an hour. He carried on running eventually, since “DNF is no option” (Did Not Finish). A real sportsman!

While the finisher party was already in full swing at the finish line, the relay runners were just hitting the road. At the front of them was Vinod Shrinivas, who was one of the fastest marathon runners of the day with a time of 2:48 h - despite the fact that he had forgotten his running shoes - and thus led Team Memmert 3 to victory in the internal ranking together with Andrea Weiss and Ronald Mühe. Simply too fast for his fellow athletes was Armin Krause, who had to turn around at the finish line to meet first-time swimmer Michelle Saim and cyclist Dirk Andrä for their finish photo.

At 10:45 pm, the final highlight of the mega event was a fireworks display of 10 minutes. Also there to enjoy it were Gabi Weiß, Christiane Riefler-Karpa and Janina Bittmann, who had crossed the finish line together just moments before. Then, the goose bumps felt when starting the swimming leg or at the Solarer Berg returned. Although it had been a really long day, the visitor feedback was throughout positive. Team Memmert wants to take this opportunity to thank all fans for the encouraging cheers and for keeping your fingers crossed for us.