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Highlights from the Roth pro press conference
It’s three days out from the 35th edition of Challenge Roth and the festivities officially kicked off this morning with a press conference that welcomed past champions and a few race rookies with lofty expectations. The prize purse for Sunday’s race has been upped to $200,000 and that has lured a slew of the world’s best iron-distance athletes, including 2014 Ironman world champion Sebastian Kienle and last year’s Kona runner-up Lucy Charles. While it will be Charles’ maiden voyage in Roth, Kienle has raced twice before and finished second each time. A win this weekend and Kienle will join countryman Jan Frodeno with a career long-distance “grand slam” (Kona, Roth, Frankfurt and 70.3 Worlds).
In total, 5,500 athletes representing 76 countries will take on one of the world’s fastest 140.6-mile courses. Here’s what a few of race favorites had to say ahead of the biggest race of the summer.
Lucy Charles (GBR)
“I’ve heard so much about this race over the past few years and so far it’s lived up to my expectations. I’ve had such a warm welcome from my wonderful home stay. It feels like home. Everyone keeps saying that Roth has the best atmosphere of any race in the world and I can’t wait to experience it firsthand on Sunday.”
“I have to go into every race with an open mind because I’m still new to the sport. I’m still learning at every race I do. So I hope to learn something new on Sunday, but the goal is always to win every time I line up.”
“Chrissie [Wellington] has definitely been a role model for me, especially being a fellow Brit. She has inspired me a lot, and if I can do anything similar to what she did in my career then it’d be a pretty amazing career.”
Sebastian Kienle (GER)
“I have some great memories from my previous two races here. I even took out some pictures from those races to refresh my memory and get me excited to go. I’ve been quite successful since I last raced Roth but this is a race I’ve always wanted to win and I’m not going for anything other than a win on Sunday.”
“I feel like I’m in pretty good shape for this time of year. I’m satisfied with my prep but I also know from experience that it’s hard to know how you’ll do at a full-distance race when you’ve only been doing half-distance races all season.
I’m satisfied with my preperation but I also know from my experience that it’s difficult to know from a half distance how you’ll do for a full. For the past few years, I’ve only had two long-distance races a season and that’s made it hard to come back to Roth because it means adding a third. Luckily I was healthy enough to get my Kona qualification race out of the way early this year and that made it possible to come back here.”
“Long distance races are a combination of concentrating on your own race and at the same time thinking about your competitors and what they’re doing. My research team has kept me up to speed on Joe Skipper and the times he’s been putting up. Those times are quite impressive so I know he’s on good form.”
Joe Skipper (GBR)
“You’ve either got the legs on race day or you don’t. Like Sebi, I’ve been second here twice before. I feel like I’m always the bridesmaid here, but hopefully I’ll be the bride on Sunday. There are a lot of very strong cyclists here this year so you’re going to have to push it hard to stay in contention. No matter how strong of a run I can turn in, I won’t be a factor if I don’t push things on the bike.”
“I was injured in February and March and couldn’t run so I think I’ve taken my swim up a massive level. Without that injury I wouldn’t have been able to do that with my swim, so maybe that was a blessing in disguise.”
Yvonne van Vlerken (NED)
“I don’t know if I’m more nervous about the race or about getting married in three weeks. Roth is a rollercoaster of emotions and it starts as soon as you get here. There are so many feelings—fear, excitement, anticipation. It’s something different here than you feel at any other race.”
“This is my eighth start here and for the first time I’m not focused on finishing position or my goal time or setting records. I just want to have a clean race in all three disciplines. We have a great starting field here this year—the young girls keep getting faster—so I’m just happy that I still get to try to keep up with them.”
“I’ve done this for 18 years now and haven’t slowed down too much. I think I should get a world championship title in consistency. Of course I’d love to win and become the first to win this race four times, but I also have to be realistic and just focus on doing the best I can for myself.”
Andreas Drietz (GER)
“The nervousness is starting to creep in. I was here last week and it was so quiet, but now all the athletes are pouring in and you can feel the race getting close. I’m still new to this distance, so it’s just an honor for me to be sitting here and to have the opportunity to race some of these guys.”
“You have to go under eight hours to win. I don’t have an exact idea of what kind of time I’m capable of, and I don’t want to fixate on a specific time. It’s been a long journey to get to the point that I’m confident in racing this distance.”
“This is my home region but I’ve only ever been to this race as a spectator. It’ll be really special for me to have all my friends and family cheering me on and I hope to give them something to cheer for. I’ve always loved training around here and I’m exited to finally be able to race here.”
Laura Siddall (GBR)
“I couldn’t be happier with the year so far. If you told me last year that I’d win two iron-distance races by this point in the season, I would’ve told you that you were crazy.”
“This race means a lot to me. It will always be one of my favorites. It’s all about improving on last year and improving on the races I’ve already done this year. I don’t know where that’ll put me at the end of the day, but I just want the kind of performance I can feel proud of and build on.”