‘The Incredibles,’ ‘The Beauties and the Beast,’ and ‘Three Angels for Silke’: these were the names of just three of a total of 26 RECARO relay teams that took part in this year’s Challenge Roth on July 7th.
Together with their relatives and friends, the organizing team and even a few pets and the 130 RECARO athletes set up a large sports camp in Eckersmühlen from July 5th to 8th, 2019. Around 40 tents and 20 mobile homes surrounded the rented sports hall, in which participants spent the night on sleeping mats or air mattresses.
More than just a camp
The moment you see the camp for yourself, you realize that it’s far more than just a place for participants to eat and sleep. It´s the very heart of the event itself. It’s where those with questions come to get answers, a place to exchange information and ideas, a meeting point for novices and carpoolers, a playground for young and old, and an international rendezvous. Yet, more than anything else, it is a retreat for the athletes. Here, ‘We are RECARO’ is more than just a slogan. And because sharing is also caring, the athletes, like brothers and sisters, happily share what they’ve got for the barbecue, as well as tools, bicycle oil, dish soap and other items. And when, on the evening before the triathlon, the whole RECARO team gathers in the sports hall for a hearty meal together at its annual pasta party, you can sense a certain thoroughly positive tension among the participants – all visibly filled with excitement and anticipation about the big day that awaits them. In addition to active employees, the RECARO contingent includes a number of former and retired colleagues, such as 66-year-old Josef H., who competed for the tenth time, this year. In addition, many of the athletes proudly wearing the RECARO team jersey this year were colleagues from company sites in Poland, the United States and China.
The first ‘goose-bump’ experience of the day occurs at 8:50, 8:55 and 9:00 a.m., when the triathlon relays get underway with a dive into the Main-Danube Canal, thereby marking the start of the relay competition for all RECARO athletes. By this point, the athletes’ euphoria has thoroughly spread to their fans and friends, who have traveled to Roth to see them compete – and who don’t stop cheering until late into the evening. Along the route and at the transition zones, the swimmers, cyclists and runners are spurred on by thunderous cheers, as well as by the deafening sound of cow bells, horns, whistles, paper clappers – or simply by loud clapping and cheering. The next highlight for athletes and fans alike occurs on the Solarerberg at 11 a.m., when the cyclists are treated to ‘La-Ola’ waves and cheering crowds of standing-room-only spectators – an atmosphere that enables the athletes to manage this particularly difficult section of the course as though they are being pushed along by a strong wind at their backs. And by the time the first teams of RECARO relay athletes cross the finish line around 6:30 p.m. and are duly received and honored by presenters and a stadium full of fans, a sustained ‘goose-bump’ feeling is truly guaranteed.
The world’s biggest Ironman-distance triathlon in numbers:
- over 3,400 individual starters
- 650 relay teams from 84 nations; 26 of which from RECARO
- over 260 000 spectators
- The Ironman distance consists of 3.8 km of swimming and 180 km of cycling, followed by a 42.2-km marathon.
- world-best time set in Roth: 7:35:39 by Jan Frodeno (2016)
- This year’s winners:
- Women: Lucy Charles-Barclay (8:31:09), England
- Men: Andi Dreitz (7:59:02), Germany
Special thanks go to the six-person organizing team. These dedicated helpers have been organizing the camp for eight years now, taking care of the participants and fans, as well as everything to do with equipment and transportation.
To all the athletes who took part: The greatest honor.