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With more than 200,000 screaming fans along the course and blazing finish times, Challenge Roth is one the sport’s grandest races. But the culture and experience of visiting this tiny German host town is just as rich.
Go: In June or July, during race season, when average temperatures are in the mid-70s.
Fly: Fly into Nuremberg or Munich, about 20 miles and 80 miles from Roth, respectively, and either rent a car or take the train from the airport. Lufthansa offers discounted travel to 2013 Challenge Roth attendees.
Stay: Upon registration, athletes can email race organizers to request a homestay, with priority given to international competitors. A homestay is certainly the best method to experience the local culture. Plus, Roth itself only has 24 hotel beds. All told, 1,500 athletes stay in local homes, while others are accommodated in hotels nearby.
Fuel up: Much more than brauts and beer
Enjoy breakfast or lunch at Bäcker Schmidt, where you’ll find pizzas, pastas and Mediterranean-style sandwiches in addition to traditional baked goods.
Workout or chill out: Head to the lake
Check out Lake Rothsee, where you can swim, lounge on the beach or bike or run an 11K dirt perimeter path.
Get wet: Swim selection
Visit the town’s stainless steel-lined 50-meter pool and correct your stroke as you view your reflection on the bottom.
Room to run: Forest fun
Go for a jog or an intense workout alongside the Main Donau Kanal, or on any of many magical forested paths.
– “Roth” is properly pronounced like “rote,” yet with a shorter, harder emphasis. To sound truly local, trill the “R.”
– Any age-grouper quick enough to break nine hours is refunded a majority of the race entry fee.
– The 2012 Challenge Roth saw 5,224 starters—3,268 individual athletes and 652 relay teams.
Challenge Roth, always among the world’s fastest iron-distance races since it started in 1988 (known as Ironman Europe until 2002), takes place July 14 this year. The course ends with lit sparklers spread throughout the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd of thousands, plus a fireworks display to rival any 4th of July blowout. The stats at Challenge Roth are staggering. It’s where Lothar Leder first broke the eight-hour mark (in 1996, going 7:57:02); where Chrissie Wellington set a new women’s iron-distance world record (8:31:59 in 2009), broke it a year later (8:19:13) and broke it again in 2011 (8:18:13); and where Andreas Raelert set the current men’s world record (7:41:33 in 2011).
PHOTOS: Challenge Roth’s Erdinger Party
Looking for a triathlon to sign up for this year? Check out our partner, the TriRock Series. Their eight events feature a fun atmosphere for triathletes of all levels.