Daniela Sämmler of Germany overcame a big swim and bike deficit to heavy favorite Lucy Charles of Great Britain. Sämmler took the lead on the run with 7 kilometers to go, then withstood late race cramps and a last minute comeback by Charles to eke out a thrilling 9 seconds margin of victory at Challenge Roth. Sämmler crossed the line in a German women’s record time of 8:43:42 amidst deafening cheers as both women rounded the half a stadium lap leading to the finish line.
A total of eight women broke the 9-hour mark at Challenge Roth this year, including Charles (8:43:51), Kaisa Sali of Finland (8:46:49), Laura Siddall of Great Britain (8:48:42), and Yvonne Van Vlerken of Netherlands (8:54:00).
Sämmler’s margin of victory was the second closest in Roth history, following only the 3 seconds margin by Lothar Leder over Chris McCormack in 2003. Sämmler also earned a bonus for setting a German women's Roth record, topping Sandra Wallenhorst’s mark by 3 minutes.
With less frenzy than the women's race, Sebastian Kienle made it a 1-2 German domination of the podium with a better than usual swim, a second-best 4:07:29 bike split and a 4th-fastest 2:47:45 marathon to finish in 7:46:23 with a 6:43 margin of victory over fellow German Andreas Dreitz and 8:15 over 3rd place finisher Jesse Thomas of the U.S.
“It was incredibly hard, but it was also incredibly awesome,” the 33-year old German told Challenge Family media.
Kienle’s victory came in his third try at Challenge Roth and completed a career quadruple of an unofficial Grand Slam of the most prestigious long course triathlons – the Ironman World Championship (2014), the Ironman 70.3 World Championship (2012, 2013), Ironman Europe at Frankfurt (2014, 2016, 2017), and now Challenge Roth.
The only athletes to finish Challenge Roth faster are Jan Frodeno of Germany, whose 2016 mark of 7:35:39 stands as a world best at the distance, and Andreas Raelert’s 2011 mark of 7:41:33.
Lucy Charles broke a 10-year Roth women’s swim split record with a 46:48 mark that was faster than Paul Schuster’s best men’s mark by 2:26. She was followed by Alicia Kaye of the U.S. (51:01), Lucie Zelenkova of the Czech Republic (51:02), Sämmler (54:43), and Van Vlerken (56:20).
Working on a 7:45 deficit after the swim, Sämmler cut Charles’ lead to 3:51 after posting a women’s-fastest 4:41:38 bike split – 4:09 better than Charles. With an even-paced, gradual assault, Sämmler eased past Charles with 7 kilometers to go and broke into a small lead. Still, the drama was not over, as Sämmler started to experience cramps in the final 5 kilometers and Charles hung close. By the final 200 meters in the horseshoe-shaped final chute, Sämmler crossed the line in 8:43:42 with a 9 seconds lead. Sämmler’s 3:04:10 marathon bested Charles’ run by 3:54. Kaisa Sali of Finland made up a lot of ground with her women's-best 3:00:03 marathon to take the final spot on the podium, 3:07 behind the winner.
Kienle started his day with a better-than usual swim, then minimized the damage wrought by überbiker Cameron Wurf’s 4:05:37 bike split with his own 4:07:29 split that was only 1:52 slower than the Australian.
Kienle closed with a 4th-fastest 2:47:45 marathon that brought him to the line in 7:46:23 with a 6:43 margin of victory over fellow German Andreas Dreitz (2:50:19 run) and 8:15 over Jesse Thomas of the U.S. (2:44:52 run). Boosted by a race-best 2:42:26 run, Joe Skipper of Great Britain finished 4th in 7:56:57, 1:20 ahead of 5th place Wurf, who closed with a 3:01:41 run.
July 1, 2018
S 2.4 mi. / B 112 mi. / R 26.2 mi.
1. Daniela Sämmler (GER) 8:43:42 *new German record at Roth
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
1. Sebastian Kienle (GER) 7:46:23 B 4:07:29
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 B 4:05:37 *new Roth bike record
6. James Cunnama (RSA) 7:59:16