OVER A QUARTER of a million spectators. World record performances. It’s easy to think that Challenge Roth is all about the pros and a big showcase. That’s just part of the magic of the event. Here’s an example: The race organizers had set my wife and I up with a “homestay” – the town has a grand total of 24 hotel rooms, so the community steps up every year to accommodate athletes. Between race organizers and the tourism bureau 1,000 athletes stay in homes in the community every year. A few months out from the race my daughter decided she wanted to come and watch her mom race. I reached out to our homestay and asked if they could accommodate my daughter and her friend. Even though Iona was so keen to be involved with the race that she jumped at the chance to host a couple of Canadian girls. It would give her son a chance to work on his English. But mostly it would be her way to help the community, which loves their Challenge Roth like no other community loves an event. Iona and her son slept on the couch, the girls slept in his room. As we dropped the girls off for their first night in Roth, my wife left the apartment with tears in her eyes. She couldn’t believe the generosity and warmth of the community that had embraced us so much. Even before the race started she had had one of the most remarkable race experiences of her life.