Records tumble at Challenge Roth

Andreas Raelert stormed to an amazing 7:41:33 at the 2011 Challenge Roth in Germany and Chrissie Wellington went 8:18:13, finishing well clear of all other females and 5th overall. Both athletes were well faster than the previous best times for this distance.

Prior to the race the matchup of Andreas Raelert with Sebastian Kienle had been hyped but there were plenty other folks to watch including South African James Cunnama and Kiwi Keegan Williams.

French Pro Benjamin Sanson was first out of the water in 46:15 followed immediately by Christian Ritter and Andreas Raelert. Sebastian Kienle exited the water about 3 minutes later in a group that also contained Chrissie Wellington, a positive sign for both of these athletes, but more so for Kienle who swam more than 2 minutes faster than in the previous year.

Meanwhile at the front of the race Raelert was setting a hard pace with Sanson and Ritter trying to keep pace, but before too long Ritter was dropping back. By the 50k mark Raelert was riding alone, but now Kienle was sitting in 3rd position 2:23 behind the Kona 2010 runner-up. Kienle kept gaining on Raelert but most likely not as fast as he would have liked, 85k into the bike the lead was down to 1:50. Kienle managed to knock a few more seconds of the lead but he then seemed to have to pay for his hard efforts early on. As the race progressed Raelert slowly pulled away again and by the time he hit the run-bike transition his lead was back up to 4:35.

Kienle had most likely hoped to have that kind of advantage over the K-Swiss Pro and not that much of a deficit, but we all know, it is what it is. Raelert was running very strong up front and added even more time to his lead and now the only question was, how fast he would actually go and what the final time would be. Raelert's time in the end was a stunning 7:41:33 an absolute best* for this distance and comes just a couple days after Marino Vanhoenacker's new record of 7:45:48 at Ironman Austria in Klagenfurt.

Chrissie Wellington was first out of the water for the women with an 11 second lead on Belinda Harper, and Belinda Granger, Rebekah Keat and Julia Wagner not too far adrift.

Wellington though quickly pulled away on the bike and opened a solid gap as had been expected. When she got to about the halfway point of the bike her lead over Keat and Granger was 4:20, but she trailed race leader Raelert by just a bit more than 17 minutes. Wellington continued that fast pace and got back to T2 with a 12-minute lead over Granger and Keat and well placed among the men. German Julia Wagner was not too far behind the Aussies.

Wellington continued that impressive performance on the run and kept running at a pace of around 4-minutes per kilometer and at times she was even faster than that. The race really was for second place with Keat and Granger battling each other and Wagner slowly gaining on them. Wellington kept passing men after man with her record fast 2:44 marathon and in the end she crossed the line in 5th place overall in a new record time* of 8:18:13 and well clear of any other woman. Julia Wagner managed to catch the Aussies to take second place and Rebekak Keat finished third.

* A very impressive performance by Raelert and Wellington indeed, but the question of accurate race distances will come up again for sure just as it had earlier this month in Klagenfurt, and in previous editions in Roth and other record venues. Absent a process of certification for these and other courses, questions about world record or world best authenticity will persist.

Challlenge Roth
Roth, Germany / July 10, 2011

Top men

1. Andreas Raelert (GER) 7:41:33
2. Sebastian Kienle (GER) 7:57:06
3. Keegan Williams (NZL) 8:16:01
4. Felix Schumann (GER) 8:18:05
5. Christian Ritter (GER) 8:18:40
6. Andrej Vistica (CRO) 8:19:19
7. Gilad Rotem (ISR) 8:20:11
8. Lothar Leder (GER) 8:22:00
9. Andriy Yastrebov (UKR) 8:24:34
10. Andreas Borch (DEN) 8:25:38

Top women

1. Chrissie Wellington (GBR) 8:18:13
2. Julia Wagner (GER) 8:56:23
3. Rebekah Keat (AUS) 8:59:22
4. Belinda Harper (NZL) 9:06:47
5. Belinda Granger (AUS) 9:12:56
6. Heike Priess (GER) 9:40:01
7. Alma Sarapuu (EST) 9:41:42
8. Cindy Lewis (CAN) 9:46:56
9. Celia Kuch (GER) 9:47:13
10. Annett Finger (GER) 9:47:25