Chris Panther is a triathlete and Sundried ambassador. He tells us about his experience at one of the biggest and most iconic long-distance triathlons in the world: Challenge Roth in Germany.
Having enjoyed triathlon for the best part of 10 years and being aware of long distance races, I was very naive when I finally plucked up the courage to enter one. I had a few friends that raced one every year so I thought it would be best if I tagged along for my first.
I had no idea how to train and also no idea which race to enter. I went with the flow. When my friend said that he had entered us all for Challenge Roth, I was nervous and walking into it blind.
I am a swimmer so I was not worried about the swim at all, but the rest though would be tough.
In April, I cycled from John O Groats to Land's End in 7 days. I picked up a virus from the Scottish weather so it was especially tough and I only came good on the last day. I lost a stone (14lbs/6kg) in weight over the week as I was struggling to eat. As soon as I finished, I never wanted to see my bike again let alone get back on it.
Running, on the other hand, was something I really didn't enjoy. I think my longest run to date was 10 miles and I had an aversion to brick sessions which didn't bode well.
July arrived and off we drove to the tunnel from Cornwall, followed by a quick drive through France and we arrived in Roth early evening. Roth is a beautiful town in Bavaria, Germany with stunning lakes to swim in – which seemed full of triathletes in anticipation of the race.
The registration process for the race was simple. We had a day to have a cycle around and to set up our bikes in transition.
As I went off in my wave, I saw a few people go off in front of me, but I must have overtaken them as I was the first to pick up my transition bag after coming out of the water. So that went well and off on the bike.
I had borrowed my friend's TT bike and I was using some shoes which turned out were a little tight... we'll come to that later.
The bike course was fantastic; two loops with minimal climbing, cycling through quaint villages with the locals sat at the side of the road drinking beer at tables. It was fantastic. The best part was the iconic Solarburg Hill, where you feel like you're in the Tour de France with people parting in front of you as you go up and you can't do anything but smile. You get to do that twice too!
Nearing transition, I was struggling with lack of nutrition planning. Plus, I got off the bike and couldn't move my toes because they were so numb from the tight shoes.
Solarburg Hill captured by photographer Kevin Mackinnon.
I donned some calf compression socks and my running shoes and grabbed some nuts and a drink before heading off for the run.
About 10k in, I started to get stitch. I think it was from eating the wrong things and not having a proper food plan. I slowly ground to a walk and it became a long, long afternoon. My friend saw me at one point and said that I looked like death!
I plodded on in a run/walk which included a bit of chatting too. I slowly got to the last 500m and I did feel a little emotional. Although my finishing time was rubbish.
Pro triathlete Daniela Ryf on the run section of Challenge Roth
What a day and what a race to do for my first long distance triathlon. Both male and female world records were broken and I will have the memories forever. Next time I will do more brick workouts and run training. Onto the next one!