Press release. It was almost a sweep today: England’s Rachel Joyce won Challenge Roth in 8:45:04 hours and secured the gold medal of the Official ETU Long Distance Triathlon European Championships. Joyce was already the second fastest woman after the 3.8k swim behind Lucie Zelenkova-Reed and took control of the race on the first kilometers of the 180k bike course. All the way during the marathon her lead never ceased.
Joyce is somewhat of a logical winner. After all, the 34-year-old is the reigning long distance triathlon World Champion. That’s what made her a clear favorite at this worldwide biggest and- aside from Hawaii- most traditional long distance triathlon. Joyce is the successor of fellow Brit Chrissie Wellington who won the race in Roth for the last three years, each time with a new world record.
There was no chance for a world record today, though. While it stayed dry, a sometimes gusty wind blew into the faces of the athletes on the bike. In addition, Joyce could hardly risk a look at her watch but instead had to keep a watchful eye on the competition on the hunt. With a lead of 4:35 minutes over the surprisingly strong Dutch Mirjam Weerd after two disciplines she could not relax yet.
Weerd later dropped back to sixth place and instead Sonja Tajsich caught up from behind. The German from Regensburg whose last start in Roth was 10 years ago was in third position after the swim and bike already and looking ahead as the known strong runner she is. She reduced Joyce’s lead to 4:43 minutes from 8:49 after the bike part. At the finish, Tajsich was ecstatic about her second place and the ETU Silver Medal as well as her world class time of 8:49:47 hours.
Third place also went to a German athlete. Last year’s second placed woman Julia Gajer won Bronze this year. Especially on the bike she had difficulties keeping up with the fastet women. However, she got a second wind during the run, fought hard and finished in 8:57:02, insignificantly slower than last year.
A total of four women at these European Championships stayed below the magical mark of nine hours. The fourth today was Gina Crawford from New Zealand in 8:59:35 hours. When Crawford crossed the finish line, Joyce already reminisced about her „unbelievable race“ and commented: „This day will forever be in my memory.“