Challenge Roth

These Challenge Roth Photos Will Give You Serious FOMO

Pro Bernd Hagen of Germany makes his way up the iconic Solaraberg Hill. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth Triathlon
With almost 4,000 bikes in T1, athletes prepare for the start of a long day. Perfect weather helps calm the nerves as they get ready to move to the swim start. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth Triathlon
Age-group athletes from the River City Triathlon Club in the U.S. are fired up and ready to go. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth Triathlon
The most nerve-wracking part of every race. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth Triathlon
Clearly one of the most spectacular starts in all of triathlon, the sun rises behind the hot air balloons. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth Triathlon
Starting 15 minutes behind the pros, the first wave of age-group athletes head out for their swim in the canal. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth Triathlon
Pro Bernd Hagen of Germany makes his way up the iconic Solaraberg Hill. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth Triathlon
Pro Bernd Hagen of Germany makes his way up the iconic Solaraberg Hill. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth Triathlon
Pro Bernd Hagen of Germany makes his way up the iconic Solaraberg Hill. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth Triathlon
Pro Bernd Hagen of Germany makes his way up the iconic Solaraberg Hill. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth Triathlon
The bike course winds through villages and rolling hills. An estimated 250,000 spectators come out to watch the race. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth Triathlon
The bike course winds through villages and rolling hills. An estimated 250,000 spectators come out to watch the race. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth Triathlon
Team Agar, Jeff and Johnny, are on their first lap, being interviewed while they climb the hill into Greding. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth Triathlon
Athletes from 76 countries were racing in Roth in 2018. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth Triathlon
The bike course winds through villages and rolling hills. An estimated 250,000 spectators come out to watch the race. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth Triathlon
The bike course winds through villages and rolling hills. An estimated 250,000 spectators come out to watch the race. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth Triathlon
The bike course winds through villages and rolling hills. An estimated 250,000 spectators come out to watch the race. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth Triathlon
The bike course winds through villages and rolling hills. An estimated 250,000 spectators come out to watch the race. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth Triathlon
The bike course winds through villages and rolling hills. An estimated 250,000 spectators come out to watch the race. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth Triathlon
All aid stations were well staffed, stocked and labeled, with volunteers wearing bibs describing what they had to offer. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth Triathlon
The climb before the climb and the crowd before the crowd.

Athletes climb the hill as they approach the village of Hilpoltstein, then descend with a long sweeping right coming onto the famed Solaraberg Hill. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth Triathlon
Most athletes smile as they are greeted by the cheering crowds at the base of Solaraberg Hill. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth Triathlon
Facing a wall of 30,000+ spectators, the athletes press on. The story of Solaraberg is that no one has ever fallen. If an athlete slows to a stop, the crowd just pushes them along up the hill. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth Triathlon
Focused on where she is going, Ginni Chan from Singapore tries to ignore the crowd and noise makers. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth Triathlon
Late night finishers are just as excited as the winners as they enter a packed stadium. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth Triathlon
Family members can meet their athletes at the entrance to the stadium and join in on the final few meters of the race. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth Triathlon
The finish line stadium, constructed solely for Challenge Roth, is packed with spectators and celebrates every finisher. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Roth18 52018 Challenge Roth Triathlon031
For 225km Johnny Agar was assisted by his father, Jeff, but got to walk the final kilometer on his own and of course, the crowd went wild! Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth Triathlon
The closing fireworks are always a crowd favorite! Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image

There’s a reason Challenge Roth tops so many triathletes’ bucket lists! Thousands of triathletes competed on Sunday, July 1. Enjoy these photos of the epic race from photographer Paul Phillips of Competitive Image, inc. Registration for the 2019 race (set for July 7) opens next Monday, July 9 at 10 a.m. local time. You’ll have to be fast though—all spots usually disappear within an hour.

Pro Q&A: Sebastian Kienle Adds Challenge Roth Win to Resume

Kienle shows no signs of letting up along the canal. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image

After finishing as the runner-up in his previous two attempts at Challenge Roth, Sebastian Kienle finally broke through at Europe’s biggest race with a convincing win and another sub-eight-hour finish to add to his resume. It’s a resume that already includes three world titles (two at Ironman 70.3 and one in Hawaii) and he’ll be on the shortlist of favorites at this year’s Ironman World Championship, along with countrymen Jan Frodeno and Patrick Lange. We sat down with “Sebi” just a few hours after he broke the tape in Roth to talk about what it means for his legacy and future.

Triathlete: You came out of the swim with the lead group in well under 50 minutes. Those both have to be firsts for you. Was this the best swim of your career?

Kienle: Well Lucy didn’t pass me (Charles started three minutes behind), so that’s definitely a success. I thought she’d catch me and put another two minutes on me. I’m happy to have swum with the front pack, but you can’t judge a swim just off the time. The swimmers kind of neutralized themselves; no one wanted to push. I think the only time we started swimming faster was when Lucy caught us.

Triathlete.com: Was it both you and Cameron [Wurf] pushing the pace on the bike or was it more him pushing and you trying to keep up?

Kienle: I was only in the lead for about 300 meters for the whole 180K, so it was all him. There’s no better guy to follow if you have the legs and balls to go for it. I would say I had the balls today, but not the legs the whole way. But I knew there was no way the rest of the guys could hang with that pace. I didn’t even realize he was ahead of me at the start of the bike. We came out of the water together, but he must’ve passed me in T1. I had to burn a whole pack of matches to close the gap—and closing the gap on someone like Cam is no easy thing. I paid for that on the run. It might’ve looked comfortable from the outside, but it was anything but comfortable on the inside.

Triathlete.com: You said before the race that winning in Roth would give you the long-course “grand slam.” What does it mean to you to join Jan [Frodeno] and Daniela [Ryf] in accomplishing such a rare feat? [Editor’s note: Mirinda Carfrae has also won all three titles.]

Kienle: I used that phrase because I don’t know how else to describe it. In long-course racing, those are the four races that mean the most and are hardest to win. Usually I just take every race on its own, but at my age you start thinking about what you can do so that people don’t forget about you. I think what it really shows is consistent quality racing over a very long stretch. When I look back at my 70.3 World Championships, I can’t believe how long ago those were. But I still feel like there are places where I can improve.

Triathlete.com: This season has been quite different for you. You checked off you Kona qualification last winter in Cozumel, so you were able to do things like Cape Epic and Roth. Do you feel like you have a little more freedom this year with your schedule and might that set you up better for Kona?

Kienle: It’s very difficult to say. Of course Kona is always the ultimate goal. After doing Cozumel, I had the choice of either doing Roth or not doing any iron-distance races this year. We took a lot of time to discuss it and look at it from every perspective. I think it’s important to have one important race in the summer, then a short stretch of relaxation so that I can really focus on the buildup to Kona. One thing that will be different is that I probably won’t race the 70.3 World Championships (in South Africa). Right now I’d say I’m definitely not going to do it, but there might be a last-minute decision to race it. I think it’s too much traveling right before Kona.

Triathlete.com: So what’s the buildup to Kona look like this year?

Kienle: First I’ll do a block of altitude training and then I think I’ll fly over to race 70.3 Santa Cruz as a final tune-up. From there I’ll go straight to Kona. I’ve always gone to Kona a long time out from the race, so five weeks prior to the race I’ll be there to do my last big block.

Triathlete.com: You’ve had some memorable finishes in your career, but this finish line is pretty unique. Can you think back to a few hours ago and what was going through your head as you entered the stadium and 10,000 people were going absolutely crazy?

Kienle: I can keep on searching for some words to describe the finish, but there’s really no way to describe this finish line. That’s the sad thing with these moments. You can’t just push record and save them forever. The race lives up to the hype. It’s this race and Kona. The only thing that was missing was a super close battle like the women had today. They really stole the show, that’s for sure. I think the more you hate yourself over the last 10K, the more you love yourself at the finish. The position was pretty much set for me over the last 10K. I knew Andi’s [Drietz] chances of catching me were pretty low at that point. So I really wasn’t going all out because I wasn’t so worried about my time. Maybe it would’ve been different if a world record was possible, but right now I don’t even know what my finish time was.

RELATED PHOTOS: 2018 Challenge Roth

2018 Challenge Roth

The first wave of age group athletes are on their way. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
The calm before the storm as the hot air balloons fill in anticipation of the start of the 2018 Challenge Roth triathlon. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
The first wave of age group athletes are on their way. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Fraser Cartmell of Scotland is the first out of the water. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
No one was surprised to see Brit Lucy Charles chase down many of the men in the swim despite a three-minute delay in the women’s start. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Germany’s Daniella Sammler had a big deficit to make up on the bike and run after Lucy’s amazing swim. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Only 24 years old and gaining experience at every event, Lucy Charles is a self-described born competitor and has a drive to win. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
The previous Challenge Roth winner had a hard but strong day. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
American Jesse Thomas has been competitive for the fist have of 2018. He was in the mix all day and in the lead group on the bike. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Having won Kona, 70.3 Worlds and the European Championship, Challenge Roth was a missing piece for Sebastian Kienle and he was full gas all day. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Awesome Aussie biker Cameron Wurf led most of the bike course, followed closely by Kienle and Thomas. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Focused and driven Sebi Kienle keeps Cameron Wurf in sight. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
In only his second long-distance event, Andreas Drietz is from the region and had hometown motivation on his side. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Cameron Wurf at Challenge Roth. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
No one can adequately describe what it feels like to climb through the crowd at Solaraberg Hill. Nicolas Block and Andi Drietz are moving toward the wall of fans. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Joe Skipper heading to Solaraberg hill. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
As you ascend, the crowd splits for you to ride through. The story is that no one has ever fallen here, the crowd just catches you and moves you along. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Lucy Charles seems to be enjoying the ride. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
On the second lap of the bike course, Seibe Kienle maneuvers around spectators and age-group athletes on the first lap, climbing the hill into Greding. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Andi Drietz is continuing to chase the lead group, keeping them within striking distance. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Kienle shows no signs of letting up along the canal. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Cameron Wurf has dropped back a position after leading on the bike. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Lucy Charles runs through the wood surrounding Roth. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Daniela Sammler gains little by little on Lucy. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Kaisa Sali has a light and quick turnover on the run. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Yvonne Van Vlerken has won Challenge Roth three times and, although not on the podium today, has had amazingly consistent times. She finished fourth today. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Kienle wins! Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Andi Drietz finishes second. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Jesse Thomas runs his way into third place. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Daniela Sammler reels in Lucy Charles with 4K to go and wins by just a few ticks of the clock. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Daniela has collapsed as Lucy finishes. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
First and second on the ground! It was a tough battle. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image

The 35th edition of Challenge Roth welcomed nearly 3,000 individual athletes and 800 relay teams with perfect conditions and a one-of-a-kind atmosphere that has turned a tiny Bavarian town into a triathlon mecca. While Jan Frodeno and Chrissie Wellington’s iron-distance world records weren’t in jeopardy, the calm conditions made for a fast day of professional racing and a nail-biting finish for the women. Germany’s Daniela Sämmler tracked down day-long leader Lucy Charles with just over 5K left to run to eek out the win by nine seconds in the closest women’s finish in the race’s history. The men’s contest wasn’t nearly as tight, as three-time world champion Sebastian Kienle won his first Roth title by nearly seven minutes.

Read the complete race recap here

RELATED: The Most Popular Bike Brand at Challenge Roth Is…

The Most Popular Bike Brand at Challenge Roth Is…

Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image

After all the bikes were racked for the 35th edition of Challenge Roth, Triathlete organized a group of volunteers to break down the bikes for a look into European buying trends. Cervélo has reigned supreme at the Kona bike count for 10 years running, and they took top honors at the inaugural Roth count last year. But Canyon is inching ever closer to dethroning Cervélo at Europe’s biggest race, and perhaps that’s a sign of things to come on the Big Island.

Bib numbers 1 through 2,700 were included in the count, which accounted for nearly 2,200 of the almost 3,000 individual athletes’ bikes.

RELATED: Cervélo Repeats as Kona Bike Count Winner

Bikes
Cervélo – 269
Canyon – 229
Felt – 142
Specialized – 125
Argon 18 – 113
Trek – 113
BMC – 96
Scott – 87
Cube – 82
Cannondale – 70
Stevens – 67
Giant – 60
QR – 51
Unbranded – 45
Fuji – 41
Kuota – 35
Planet X – 27
Simplon – 26
Airstreem – 25
Focus 23
LIV – 23
BH – 21
Merida – 20
LOOK – 18
Ceepo – 15
Isaac – 15
Rose – 15
Boardmann – 12
Storck – 12
Ridley – 11
Kestrel – 10
Wilier – 10
Pinarello – 9
Blue – 8
Centurion – 7
Colnago – 7
Corratec – 6
Avenger – 5
Bianchi – 4
KTM – 4
Cucuma – 4
Radon – 4
Benotti – 4
Ventum – 4
Red Bull – 4
CKT – 3
Bulls – 3
Metta – 3
Teschner, Leadnova, Dolan, Camin, Derosa, Dimond, Diamondback, Merckx, Scrane, Swift, Thompson, Carver, Cipollini, Cinelli, Supra, Karbona, Axus, Basso, Shark, Frankenstein – 2

Maxbike, Leopard, Klein, Fresdental, Neilpryde, Emwee, Missile, Gosken, Kyzr, Mobit, Holland, Culprit, HBC, Masciarelli, Vitus, Chapter 2, Berria, Garneau, Mccann, Mendiz, Epoca, Jorbi, Ribble, Bergamont, Ghost, Koga, Pasculli, Raleigh, Sensa, Ziemen – 1

Wheels
Zipp – 469
Mavic – 359
Other/unbranded – 328
Reynolds – 149
DT Swiss – 89
HED – 72
Profile Design – 70
Shimano – 63
Citec – 57
FFWD – 56
SwissSide – 54
Bontrager – 51
Xentis – 50
ENVE – 49
Vision – 43
Airsteem – 39
Giant – 33
Planet X – 32
Campagnolo – 31
Fulcrum – 30
Felt – 28
Oval Concepts – 25
Easton – 24
Roval – 23
Novatec – 21
FLO – 20
Speed – 20
Lightweight – 15
SRAM – 15
KYZR – 11
Lee2e – 11
Token – 7
Corima – 9
Knight – 5
Rothar – 5
3T – 4
Syntace – 3
Rolf, Sonic, Gravity Zero, C-Tech,  – 1

Aerobars
Profile Design – 539
3T – 238
Canyon – 177
Vision – 166
Drop bars – 140
Other/unbranded – 138
Felt – 111
Bontrager – 110
Specialized – 77
Syntace – 69
Argon 18 – 63
Giant – 60
Zipp – 51
P.R.O. – 36
Oval Concepts – 30
Cannondale – 27
Deda – 23
Easton – 15
Cube – 15
Simplon – 14
BMC – 14
Cervélo – 10
HED – 8
Stevens – 8
TriRig – 8
Storck – 7
Planet X – 6
LOOK – 6
Airsteem – 6
Pinarello – 4
Xentis, Haero, Rose, Scott – 3
ENVE, Ventum, Colnago – 2
Wilier – 1

Saddles
ISM – 625
Fi’zi:k – 412
Specialized – 310
Selle Italia – 204
Other/unbranded – 142
Prologo – 131
Bontrager – 89
Cobb – 83
Selle San Marco – 71
SQ Lab – 41
Dash – 21
P.R.O. – 20
Selle SMP – 20
Fabric – 19
Profile Design – 19
Felt – 17
Oval Concepts – 11
Cannondale – 7
Centurion – 7
Ritchey – 4
Terry, Oxygen, Velo – 3
Syncros, Giant – 1 

Front Hydration
Profile Design – 630
X-Lab – 301
Integrated – 146
None – 105
Elite – 37
Torhans – 29
Speedfil – 23
Vision – 22
Bontrager – 9
Other – 7
Zipp – 5
BBB – 3
Topeak – 1

Groupsets (bibs # 1-1,600 counted)
Shimano – 1,254 (372 electronic)
SRAM – 238 (52 electronic)
Campagnolo – 46 (3 electronic) 

A big thank you to Canyon, Cervelo, and especially Radsport Buchstaller for making this year’s count possible!

Sämmler Wins a Thriller, Kienle Dominates in Roth

Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitie Image

Two Germans beat out a tough field at the 35th running of the iconic Challenge Roth triathlon.

The 35th edition of Challenge Roth welcomed nearly 3,000 individual athletes and 800 relay teams with perfect conditions and a one-of-a-kind atmosphere that has turned a tiny Bavarian town into a triathlon mecca. While Jan Frodeno and Chrissie Wellington’s iron-distance world records weren’t in jeopardy, the calm conditions made for a fast day of professional racing and a nail-biting finish for the women. Germany’s Daniela Sämmler tracked down day-long leader Lucy Charles with just over 5K left to run to eek out the win by nine seconds in the closest women’s finish in the race’s history. The men’s contest wasn’t nearly as tight, as three-time world champion Sebastian Kienle won his first Roth title by nearly seven minutes.

RELATED PHOTOS: 2018 Challenge Roth

Women’s Race
Charles started the day with a massive lead thanks to a record-breaking 46:48 swim that out-split all of the professional men by nearly a minute. That gave the 24-year-old a gap of more than four minutes on Alicia Kaye and Lucie Zelenkova, and almost seven minutes on Sämmler and last year’s fifth-place Kona finish Kaisa Sali. Charles was able to maintain her advantage through the first of two 90K loops, but Sämmler managed to trim a few minutes off her deficit during the second loop to hit T2 just four minutes back. Sali was next into transition, another five minutes behind.

The top three women held the same pace through the first half of the marathon, with Laura Siddall and three-time Roth winner Yvonne van Vlerken running up to fourth and fifth, respectively, as the women neared the halfway mark.

“I wanted to stop from the 2K point of the run—if it weren’t for these crowds, I wouldn’t have been able to keep going,” Charles said. “Somehow I managed to hold Daniela off as long as I did, but that took everything I had.

Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image

Sämmler started to reel Charles in during the second half of the run and closed the gap in a hurry. She made the pass with 6K to go, but Charles wasn’t letting the lead she’d enjoyed all day go without a fight. After fading to 40 seconds back at one point, Charles gave it one more all-out effort to get within 10 seconds as the two charged into the stadium for the finish. Sämmler had just enough to hang on for the biggest win of her career, breaking the tape just nine seconds ahead of Charles.

“I think I need some days to realize what this means to me,” Sämmler said. “I didn’t feel that good near the end, but someone I managed to hang on. I really didn’t believe I would win until I was about 10 meters from the finish.”

Sämmler’s time of 8:47:26 is the fastest ever iron-distance performance by a German woman by more than three minutes. Sali rounded out the podium, finishing three minutes after the sprint for the win.

Men’s Race
While the men’s race didn’t serve up the drama of a sprint finish, it did feature a course record on the bike and a first Roth title for one of the sport’s biggest stars. The men were led out of the water in a tick under 48 minutes by Scotland’s Fraser Cartmell, who was followed closely by a pack of nearly 20 athletes that included the day’s top contenders. In the mix were Kienle, Jesse Thomas, and Kona bike-course record holder Cameron Wurf. As expected, it didn’t take long for Kienle and Wurf to take charge of the race once they got on two wheels. Thomas was able to hang with the grueling pace for 90K before the pair of über cyclists broke away on the second of two laps. Racing in only his second iron-distance event, Bavaria’s own Andreas Dreitz closed his gap to the leaders to just two minutes as he began his second lap.

Wurf got tired of Kienle’s company over the final 50K, surging to a lead of 1:50 by the time he hit T2. His 4:05:37 bike split broke Jan Frodeno’s course record by more than two minutes.

“It wasn’t a comfortable ride at all,” Kienle said. “There aren’t a lot of guys who can really make me hurt on the bike, but Cam can really make me hurt.”

Drietz was third into T2, four minutes behind Kienle, with Bryan McCrystal and Thomas heading onto the run in fourth and fifth, respectively. It didn’t take long for Kienle to erase his deficit to the former pro cyclist, however, and he reassumed control of the race at only the 6K mark of the marathon. Drietz also made a swift pass of the fast-fading Aussie, who raced Ironman Nice only one week ago.

From there it was smooth sailing for Kienle, who was able to wipe away the disappointment from his previous two runner-up finishes in Roth and complete the grand slam of winning the four biggest long-course races (Roth, Kona, Frankfurt and 70.3 worlds).

“When I had 6:30 at the final turnaround I thought I would be OK,” Kienle said. “I wasn’t in full emergency mode yet—just partial emergency mode. I tried my best to enjoy the last few kilometers and soak it all in but that’s never easy at a race this long.”

Drietz held off a hard-charging Thomas to claim the runner-up spot, finishing five and a half minutes back. Thomas rounded out the podium another 90 seconds back.

“I’m ecstatic to be on the podium,” Thomas said. “Looking at the start list, I thought a top five was doable on the right day. I thought maybe I’d have a crack at breaking eight hours if everything went well. After some disappointing races in Kona, to come here and podium means a lot to me.”

2018 Challenge Roth
Roth, Germany – July 1, 2018
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run

Men
1. Sebastian Kienle (GER) 7:46:23
2. Andreas Dreitz (GER) 7:53:06
3. Jesse Thomas (USA) 7:54:38
4. Joe Skipper (GBR) 7:56:57
5. Cameron Wurf (AUS) 7:58:17

Women
1. Daniela Sämmler (GER) 8:43:42
2. Lucy Charles (GBR) 8:43:51
3. Kaisa Sali (FIN) 8:46:49
4. Laura Siddall (GBR) 8:48:42
5. Yvonne van Vlerken (NED) 8:54:40

Challenge Roth’s Pre-Race Festivities

Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth's Pre-Race Festivities
As athletes, families and spectators arrive in Roth, they know there are home for the weekend. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth's Pre-Race Festivities
Belinda Granger welcomes the athletes to a showing of the film We Are Triathletes, much of which was filmed during the 2014 Challenge Roth. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth's Pre-Race Festivities
Great seats to watch a movie in a sunny afternoon. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth's Pre-Race Festivities
Six stories of professional, age group, and challenged athletes showcase the goals, struggles, and satisfaction of competing in a long-distance triathlon. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth's Pre-Race Festivities
Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth's Pre-Race Festivities
Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth's Pre-Race Festivities
Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth's Pre-Race Festivities
Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth's Pre-Race Festivities
Felix Walchshoefer, who is featured in the film, is enjoying watching with friends for the first time. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth's Pre-Race Festivities
Some viewers feel more comfortable in an aero position while they watch. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth's Pre-Race Festivities
Felix is emotional when on film he is telling the story of how his father started the event and was later present in a wheelchair after lung transplant surgery. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth's Pre-Race Festivities
Roth siblings Paul (17) and Maja (14) have a rich history with the race. Paul remembers crossing the finish line with his father in 2014 and Maja was carried across the line at one week old! Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth's Pre-Race Festivities
Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth's Pre-Race Festivities
While the athletes were at the pasta party, Roth residents and other visitors come to the Marketplatz for their own annual party, hosted by Radio 3. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth's Pre-Race Festivities
Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth's Pre-Race Festivities
Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth's Pre-Race Festivities
Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth's Pre-Race Festivities
Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth's Pre-Race Festivities
Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image

After getting business done at the expo, Challenge Roth athletes were treated to a premiere showing of the “We Are Triathletes” documentary.

RELATED: Challenge Roth’s Big-Name Pros Talk Strategy

Less Than Two Days out at Challenge Roth

Roth's triathlon club, the Hardtsee Mafia, gathers for a group photo in the stadium. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth Expo
Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth Expo
Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Roth18 0204
Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth Expo
Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth Expo
Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth Expo
Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth Expo
Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth Expo
Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth Expo
Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth Expo
Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth Expo
Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth Expo
Aussie Belinda Granger, the official Queen of Roth, raced here 10 times beginning in 2004 and winning in 2005. She now returns every year to be the pro athlete liaison. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth Expo
Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth Expo
Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth Expo
Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth Expo
Roth’s triathlon club, the Hardtsee Mafia, gathers for a group photo in the stadium. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth Expo
Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth Expo
Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
Challenge Roth Expo
Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image

We’re less than 48 hours away from one of the sport’s most iconic events and 5,500 triathletes are busy getting ready to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, run 26.2 miles, and hopefully earn a shiny new PR. The expo is one of the busiest areas of town, as athletes take advantage of the family-friendly atmosphere to get pre-race business done.

All of the big European vendors are on hand, as well as names from the U.S. that will make any American triathlete feel right at home. The beer garden is open all day, where sponsor Erdinger Alcoholfrei is served.

Jealous? Us too! Good luck to those getting ready to compete.

RELATED: Challenge Roth’s Big-Name Pros Talk Strategy

Challenge Roth’s Big-Name Pros Talk Strategy

Lucy Charles was asked about her strong swim and said she hoped to 'grab onto the toes of a few of the guys,' at which point Sebi was wondering in spite of a three-minute head start, how much she will beat him to T1. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Challenge Roth CEO Felix Walchshofer welcomes the international press to the opening of the 35th Annual Challenge Roth triathlon. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Roth, Germany, with a population of about 24,000, welcomes 5,500 participants from 76 countries. Organizers expect 250,000 spectators to come out on race day. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Former Ironman world champion Sebastian Kienle gives an insightful, but lighthearted overview of his competition.
2018 Challenge Roth
Kaisa Sali, Andreas Drietz, Daniela Sammler, Lucy Charles, Sebi Kienle, Joe Skipper, Laura Siddall, James Cunnamaa, and Yvonne Van Vlerken
Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Joe Skipper returns from his second place finish in the 2017 race. Joe says an early season running injury forced him into the pool and has allowed him to move his swimming up a notch. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Andreas Dietz, who is from the region, is doing his first long-distance event. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Yvonne Van Vlerken has won Challenge Roth three times and over her 18 years of racing has maintained consistent times. Once again she is gunning for a podium position. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Laura Siddall had a great race in 2017 and hopes to move up a step on the podium in 2018. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Daniella Sammler is looking forward to her first experience in Roth. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Finland’s Kaisa Sali comes to Roth for the first time after winning Ironman Arizona last fall. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Lucy Charles was asked about her strong swim and said she hoped to ‘grab onto the toes of a few of the guys,’ at which point Sebi was wondering in spite of a three-minute head start, how much she will beat him to T1. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Challenged Athlete Rajesh Durbal is in Roth to take on another long distance event. Having raced Kona twice, he hopes to improve on those performances here. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Daniela Sammler, Kaisa Sali, Andreas Drietz, Lucy Charles, Sebi Kienle, Joe Skipper, Laura Siddall, James Cunnamaa and Yvonne Van Vlerken. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
The village of Roth is quiet as the crews prepare for the arrival of athletes, families and spectators. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
The village of Roth is quiet as the crews prepare for the arrival of athletes, families, and spectators.Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
The village of Roth is quiet as the crews prepare for the arrival of athletes, families, and spectators.Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
Everyone here loves Roth: Triathlete contributor Brad Culp posses for a shot. The village of Roth is quiet as the crews prepare for the arrival of athletes, families, and spectators. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image
2018 Challenge Roth
A group of Israeli athletes gather for a shot with Felix. The village of Roth is quiet as the crews prepare for the arrival of athletes, families, and spectators. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image

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.”

Kienle, Charles Highlight 35th Challenge Roth Start List

Sebastian Kienle (GER) on his way to second place a the 2017 Ironman World Championship. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image

With their Ironman World Championship qualification spots solidified, top iron-distance athletes Sebastian Kienle (GER) and Lucy Charles (GBR) are each taking a detour from their respective Kona preparations to toe the line at the 35th running of Challenge Roth in Germany.

Kienle, who celebrates his 34th birthday six days after the event, last raced in Roth in 2010 and 2011. Both times he went sub-eight hours (2010: 7:59:06; 2011: 7:57:06), but on both occasions it was “only” enough for second place. In 2010, he was runner-up to Rasmus Henning and a year later to Andreas Raelert, who set the new world record. After several years away, Kienle returns to Roth with one thing driving him: “I haven’t yet won in Roth and so I am here to fight for that win.”

Lucy Charles (GBR) on her way to a second-place finish in Kona. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive Image

At just 24-years-old, Charles caused quite a stir in Kona. After exiting the water first, she held the lead for most of the bike and was only overtaken by eventual winner, Daniela Ryf, toward the end of the bike. The strong swimmer, who has only been racing as a pro since 2016, is a solid all-around athlete and will be the favorite headed into Sunday’s race.

Both athletes will face top-notch fields, with several professionals taking on the Roth race for the first time. Most will likely be looking for PR-worthy performances, thanks to a course that is known as being the fastest iron-distance option on the planet. A few will be looking for the opportunity to break the current 140.6-mile world records, but it won’t be easy. The women’s record, set by Chrissie Wellington in Roth in 2011, sits at 8:18:13. The men’s record is more recent, with Jan Frodeno posting the 7:35:39 in Roth in 2016.

See the complete start list below:

American Jesse Thomas will give the Roth course his first try this weekend. Photo: Neil Kerr/Getty Images

Men
1 Sebastian Kienle (GER)
2 Joe Skipper (GBR)
3 Andreas Dreitz (GER)
4 James Cunnama (RSA)
5 Cameron Wurf (AUS)
6 Luke Bell (AUS)
7 Jesse Thomas (USA)
8 Roman Deisenhofer (GER)
9 Michael Göhner (GER)
10 Markus Hörmann (GER)
11 Jan Raphael (GER)
12 Sebastian Neef (GER)
13 Lukas Krämer (GER)
14 Evert Scheltinga (NED)
15 Fraser Cartmell (GBR)
16 Doug Maclean (USA)
17 Marc Unger (GER)
18 Christian Altstadt (GER)
19 Sebastian Mahr (GER)
20 Patrick Jaberg (GER)
21 Niclas Bock (GER)
22 Charles Martin (FRA)
23 Younghwan Oh (KOR)
24 Rick Steffen (GER)
25 Alfred Rahm (GER)
27 Reece Barclay (GBR)
28 Bruno Pasqualini (ITA)
30 Tjardo Visser (NED)
32 Paul Schuster (GER)
33 Luis Ohde (BRA)
46 Marcus Wöllner (GER)
47 Bryan Mccrystal (IRL)
48 Thomas Naasz (NED)
90 Rafael Lopez Ordoñez (ESP)
97 Sven Riederer (SUI)
98 David Dellow (AUS)
99 Ivan Rana (ESP)

Women
101 Lucy Charles (GBR)
102 Laura Siddall (GBR)
103 Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED)
104 Kaisa Sali (FIN)
107 Daniela Sämmler (GER)
109 Sofie Goos (BEL)
110 Lucie Zelenkova (CZE)
111 Alicia Kaye (USA)
113 Sarissa De Vries (NED)
114 Olga Kowalska (POL)
116 Karen Steurs (BEL)
132 Bianca Steurer (AUT)

Roth Photos! This is What a Bucket List Race Looks Like

it is a rare day in triathlon when spectators can get a great view of the swim course. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive image
2017 Challenge Roth
Crowds of spectators line the canal for the Challenge Roth swim. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive image
2017 Challenge Roth
Age-group athletes make their way to the start line. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive image
2017 Challenge Roth
The pre-race commotion of T1 has quieted down with a few late starters making final preparations. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive image
2017 Challenge Roth
Gear bags are carefully lined up so the athletes can grab them without breaking stride on the way to the changing tent. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive image
2017 Challenge Roth
it is a rare day in triathlon when spectators can get a great view of the swim course. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive image
2017 Challenge Roth
The sub-9:00 age group men started with the pros, followed by the female pros five minutes later, which caused the lead women to weave their way through the men. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive image
2017 Challenge Roth
American-based club race kits can be seen along the course. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive image
2017 Challenge Roth
It is a fast race, but Roth is not a flat race! Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive image
2017 Challenge Roth
Age group athletes are treated to rolling hills and spectacular views in the Bavarian countryside. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive image
2017 Challenge Roth
As the hills get higher the crowds get thicker and louder. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive image
2017 Challenge Roth
Riding up the famed Solarberg hill is both a physical and a mental challenge. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive image
2017 Challenge Roth
Felix Walchshöfer, race director, CEO and main man at Challenge Roth, is out on the course to be sure everything is going smoothly. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive image
2017 Challenge Roth
As the day winds down, the stadium is still filled to capacity celebrating every race finisher. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive image
2017 Challenge Roth
Whether you do the full race or a relay, everyone gets to celebrate. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive image
2017 Challenge Roth
Prior to entering the stadium, families can meet their athletes and run the final 200 meters with them. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive image
2017 Challenge Roth
2016 Challenge Roth champion and iron-distance record holder Jan Frodeno was back in Roth for appearances. He stuck around to hand out medals (and pose for selfies) at the finish. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive image
2017 Challenge Roth
The swim and bike members of relay teams meet their run partners to all cross the finish line together. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive image
2017 Challenge Roth
Second place finisher Laura Siddall returns to the finish line to welcome and celebrate with the age-group athletes. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive image
2017 Challenge Roth
Seven finishes in Roth! Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive image
2017 Challenge Roth
After a year-long effort to put on this amazing event, team members celebrate and take selfies with friends. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive image
2017 Challenge Roth
Selfies aren’t limited to age-group fans. Here two-time winner Daniela Ryf snaps a photo with Chrissie Wellington, a three time winner and current iron-distance world record holder. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive image
2017 Challenge Roth
German Pro Timo Bracht began his long-distance race career in Roth and finished his long-distance career here as well. There was a presentation to Timo celebrating his many accomplishments and contributions to German triathlon. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive image
2017 Challenge Roth
Fireworks wrap up the evening at Roth. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive image
2017 Challenge Roth
Fireworks wrap up the evening at Roth. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive image
2017 Challenge Roth
“Fireman Rob” Verhelst completed the entire run course in full gear. Although he was a few minutes past the cutoff, everyone in the stadium waited for him to finish. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive image
2017 Challenge Roth
Felix, Jan, Rob and Chrissie celebrate the end of the 2017 Challenge Roth. Photo: Paul Phillips/Competitive image
2017 Challenge Roth
The finish line at Challenge Roth is truly a party. Photo: Jay Prasuhn
2017 Challenge Roth
The finish line at Challenge Roth is truly a party. Photo: Jay Prasuhn
2017 Challenge Roth
A finisher and his daughter pose at the finish line. Photo: Jay Prasuhn
2017 Challenge Roth
2017 Challenge Roth
2017 Challenge Roth
Daniela Ryf puts a medal on another finisher. Photo: Jay Prasuhn
2017 Challenge Roth
A fan is excited to meet two-time Ironman world champion Jan Frodeno. Photo: Jay Prasuhn
2017 Challenge Roth
2017 Challenge Roth
A finisher gets to meet Chrissie Wellington after a long day of racing. Photo: Jay Prasuhn
2017 Challenge Roth
Everyone gets an enthusiasm welcome to the finish line. Photo: Jay Prasuhn
2017 Challenge Roth
Party time! Photo: Jay Prasuhn
2017 Challenge Roth
Party time! Photo: Jay Prasuhn
2017 Challenge Roth
Party time! Photo: Jay Prasuhn

A field of 3,400 competed on a hot and humid day at the 2017 Challenge Roth triathlon. See the pro gallery here.