Memmert managing director Christiane Riefler-Karpa finished her first long-distance triathlon and was awarded her medal by the freshly crowned and new world record holder, Chrissie Wellington, in person.
“If you are looking for a name for your son, a triathlon’s a great idea“, jokes Christiane Riefler-Karpa in a comment on the loneliness of the long-distance starter in the triathlon. She distracted herself on the course by reading the numerous signs along the way, which kept on trying to motivate lots of Ralfs, Rainers and Rolands, but not so many Claudias or Petras. No wonder, because the 2079 men who crossed the finishing line as individual starters were matched by just 278 women. “You mustn’t get frustrated by the fact that you are constantly being overtaken by men“, Christiane Riefler-Karpa emphasised. “So is triathlon a male sport?“, your average couch potato might ask. No doubt that a higher testosterone level and many other physical differences give men a clear advantage in this strength-sapping competition. “The men wanted to win, I just wanted to finish“, the Memmert managing director tries to explain, but the other starters from Memmert are having nothing of it: “You‘ll see, next year you’ll beat your own best time!“ But the Memmert company boss is not thinking of that just yet. First, she is just happy that she has managed her first long-distance triathlon after 13 hours, 50 minutes and 18 seconds.
The mother of three was especially cheered on by women. It almost seemed as if she wanted show the men how it’s done. But the women‘s movement was just about the last thing to help motivate her to hang on. She preferred to distract herself by not thinking all the time about the course ahead, but thinking positively. “When I came through Wallesau for the second time on the cycling circuit, I just thought, you won’t be seeing this place ever again today“, the company boss smiles to herself at these words.
The youngster among the Challenge starters from Memmert is Matthias Grosser. With a marathon time of 3 hours, 4 minutes and 4 seconds, impressive for a 23-year-old, he was the 28th fastest in a field of 275 relays starters, and ensured a good 57th place for his team, TNT EXPRESS. The employee in the Final Inspection Department is the best example of the fact that sport as a part of Memmert company culture can also be an important argument when looking for new employees. He had looked at the Memmert Internet site before applying, and took the decision to apply after reading the triathlon reports.
Carsten Angermeyer, the all-rounder who has mastered all three triathlon disciplines, this year dived into the water at 8.40am to replace Christiane Riefler-Karpa in the Memmert relay. Although he had done very little training, he swum the 3.8 kilometres in 1 hour, 12 minutes and 13 seconds, faster than his time last year by 20 minutes. For the rest of the day he helped coach Bennie Lindberg with supplying refreshments, motivating and cheering his team colleagues on.
Ronald Mühe, who had also completed the cycling course for the Memmert team, as in the past two years, is, like his boss, a master in the art of overcoming negative thoughts. He beat his time from the previous year by 59 seconds. During the competition he switches off his speedometer for most of the time, to avoid mental blocks about what average speed he would have to ride now. To ride so that it feels good is his motto, and his recipe for success. Furthermore, he was helped covering the 180 kilometres by the fact that he now knows the course like the back of his hand, along with his sense of humour. The inexperienced triathlete, but also the spectator on the side of the cycling course, has most respect towards the steep down-slopes. To the question how fast you go downhill at the steepest point, Ronald Mühe just laughs mischievously: Well, there’s a 70 speed limit just as you leave Tiefenbach, so I’m not allowed to ride faster than that.“
Peter Krieger, the established marathon runner in the Memmert relay team, this year fell into a mental trap, however. He had big plans, wanted to run a personal best, but noticed after about 15 kilometres that he had started too fast. 37 tortuous kilometres followed, but he didn’t give up, and showed what a fighter he is. After a dream has been shattered, your legs feel twice as heavy, they really hurt, the course seems twice as long, and at the end you‘re torn between laughing and crying when you’re greeted reproachfully by your 6-year-old daughter with “Dad, what took you so long?“. She had waited bravely for many hours with her 9-year-old sister Laura, so that the three of them could proudly cross the finishing line together with Dad.
All these wonderful moments during the Quelle Challenge are compensation enough for the trials experienced. The fireworks, the solidarity among the athletes, the estimated 180,000 spectators tirelessly cheering on the competitors – you can never quite get used to this goose pimple atmosphere. They will all be there next year, of course.