Bracht, Carfrae rule Roth

On a very hot day in Bavaria, Germany, Timo Bracht ran down fellow German Nils Frommhold to capture the 2014 Datev Challenge Roth in 7:56:00. Mirinda Carfrae earned the women's title in her first appearance there, with a solid swim and bike effort and another impressive run. Just like in Kona she ran down Rachel Joyce on the way to the win, but this time Joyce looked very good on the run too - and earned second place with that effort.

The men

The Pro field in Roth was impressive and contained many fast swimmers, and that was a source of concern for pros like Timo Bracht who tend to have a stronger bike and run segment. But when the leading group of men came finished the 3.8km swim in the Europakanal it was Nils Frommhold was was first out of the water in 48:39 and he had defending champion Dirk Bockel, 2012 Ironman champion Pete Jacobs, Eneko Llanos, Joe Gambles, Sylvain Sudrie, Markus Fachbach, Per Bittner and Andreas Niedrig right with him. And both Timo Bracht and James Cunnama had managed to stay with the leaders. Missing from the group however was Aussie Luke McKenzie who typically swims well, but the recent father of a baby girl apparently suffered from an asthma panic attack and lost almost 4 minutes to the other favorites.

That meant a group of 11 men up front set out on the first of 2 laps through the region around Roth and the almost 47-year old Niedrig, who signed up for a new Pro license this year in conjunction with his film Traumwärts, pushed the pace on that first loop. There were a few attempts to split up the field but it was not until later in the bike segment when the heat and the pace finally caused trouble for some. Jacobs, Niedrig and Bittner were dropped from the group and Frommhold managed to pull away from Bracht and the others. His 4:15:16 bike split was fastest among that group and allowed the talented young German to reach the bike-run transition with a 4:45 advantage over Bockel, 4:53 on Bracht and around 5:20 on Llanos, Cunnama, Fachbach and Sudrie.

“On the bike I wanted to show them what I got. And it went even better than planed,” said Frommhold. “I've given it my all, but in the end it wasn't enough. I'll definitely be back, because this was an incredible event.”

Luke McKenzie had worked hard on the bike without a power meter and was alone most of his ride and he reached T2 in 8th position, 7:18 behind Frommhold. But he had made up time on the others.

Frommhold ran well, but Bracht methodically started to reel him in. Bockel was running in 3rd place but behind him the always dangerous Eneko Llanos was hovering. Cunnama was struggling on the run and he started to drop back. But a bit further back Joe Gambles looked very comfortable and some experts predicted that he may run from 9th position at the end of the bike onto a podium spot. Up front Frommhold still had a 3 minute advantage at the halfway point of the marathon, but during the next 10km Bracht pulled back the most time, and around the 30km mark Bracht grabbed the lead and then pulled away. His 2:44:32 marathon allowed Bracht to finally grab that elusive Challenge Roth title, after several narrow misses and the German was elated. Frommhold held on to second place, and Llanos battled hard to grab the final podium spot.

The women

Defending champion Caroline Steffen led the women out of the water in 52:08 and she had Michelle Vesterby right on her heels. Julia Gajer also had a solid swim and only lost 18 seconds to the Swiss powerhouse, and Rachel Joyce was 35 seconds behind. Rebekah Keat was also close but she dropped out fairly early into the bike segment.

Steffen set a hard pace on the bike and gained time on Versterby, Joyce and Gajer, but the hard charging Anja Beranek slowly overcame her disadvantage after the 56:51 swim and had moved into second place 2 minutes adrift 40km into the bike segments. At 70km Beranek and Joyce were less than 1:20 behind Steffen at 85km they were together. Yvonne Van Vlerken was riding in fourth position and Mirinda Carfrae in fifth place, just ahead of Vesterby. Somewhere before the 140km point Beranek crashed and that left Joyce and Steffen alone up front. Joyce however pulled away from Steffen and steadily gained time during the final 40km. When Joyce reached T2 she had 4:32 on Steffen, 5:552 on Van Vlerken, 6:13 on Diana Riesler and 6:22 on Carfrae.

Mirinda Carfrae was flying on the run, and quickly moved past Riesler and Van Vlerken. Around 10km the 2013 Ironman World Champion had reeled in Steffen and now the hunt for Joyce was in full force. But it took the Aussie 20 more kilometers to move into the lead. From there she pulled away and entered the very loud stadium in Roth as the new champion in 8:38:53, and that was a personal best time for Carfrae. She did it with a 55:24 swim, a 4:46:48 bike split and a very fine 2:53:27 run in those hot conditions.

“I’ve heard so much about the race hard not to get wound up in the emotion, the last 1km the crowds were amazing and felt myself getting emotional. I felt like I was going to cry,” said Carfrae. "These girls were so hard to track down on the run, they are the best in the world and they showed it."

Rachel Joyce finished in second place and Caroline Steffen held on to third place.

2014 Datev Challenge Roth
Roth, Germany / July 20, 2014
3.8km swim / 180km bike / 42km run

Top men

1. Timo Bracht (GER) 7:56:00
2. Nils Frommhold (GER) 8:00:39
3. Eneko Llanos (ESP) 8:09:29
4. Joe Gambles (AUS) 8:10:10
5. James Cunnama (RSA) 8:11:44
6. Dirk Bockel (LUX) 8:22:41
7. Michael Rünz (GER) 8:23:44
8. Andrej Vistica (CRO) 8:28:26
9. Roeland Smits (NED) 8:29:20
10. Luke McKenzie (AUS) 8:37:33

Top women

1. Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) 8:38:53
2. Rachel Joyce (GBR) 8:42:25
3. Caroline Steffen (SUI) 8:48:42
4. Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) 8:59:36
5. Julia Gajer (GER) 9:00:50
6. Catherine Faux (GBR) 9:09:47 * AG W25-29
7. Diana Riesler (GER) 9:13:16
8. Michelle Vesterby (DEN) 9:13:23
9. Simone Maier (NZL) 9:31:24
10. Daniela Sämmler (GER) 9:37:46