ALT ROTH: BAVARIA’S OTHER BUCKET LIST RACE

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Triathlon Magazine Canada - - Front Page - BY HOLLY BEN­NETT

Are you drawn by the al­lure of rac­ing in Europe, with idyl­lic back­drops and cour­ses packed full of fren­zied triathlon fans? Is Chal­lenge Roth, which sells out in record time ( less then a minute), on your bucket list, but does its light­ning-fast-to-fill regis­tra­tion elude you? Then check out Chal­lenge Regensburg, now in its sec­ond year, for a Roth-like al­ter­na­tive that de­liv­ers big on a Roth-like at­mos­phere. It also de­liv­ers big on the ath­lete ex­pe­ri­ence, in part due to the fact that Bavar­ian pro Sonja Ta­jsich shares race di­rec­tor du­ties with her hus­band Tom, who is also an avid sports­man.

But hurry. With the buzz fol­low­ing the 2016 in­au­gu­ral race’s suc­cess and the news that Chal­lenge Regensburg 2017 will serve as the DTU Ger­man Triathlon Long Dis­tance Cham­pi­onship and that in 2018 the race will host the ETU Euro­pean Triathlon Long Dis­tance Cham­pi­onship, it’s only a mat­ter of time un­til this re­cent ad­di­tion to the Chal­lenge Fam­ily race cal­en­dar draws its own sell- out crowd. Here’s what has Chal­lenge Regensburg on the fast track to be­com­ing a triathlon favourite.

On Course

Mir­ror- calm, the swim venue of Guggen­berger See in­vites per­sonal best per­for­mances. This im­mac­u­late lake sits 12 km from Regensburg cen­tre (race morn­ing shuttles de­liver ath­letes to the start). Un­der a mes­mer­iz­ing blan­ket of morn­ing mist, you’ll at­tack the two-loop swim course, which switches di­rec­tions at the mid­way point af­ter a short sprint along the shore. It’s ex­cep­tion­ally well marked; you’ll never lose sight of the next buoy and strate­gi­cally placed lane lines in the lake keep com­peti­tors clearly on course. Wa­ter tem­per­a­tures wa­ver be­tween 22 to 24 C in sum­mer­time, so pack your neo­prene but be pre­pared for both wet­suit and non­wet­suit con­di­tions.

Also two loops, the bike course is a tour of fairy­tale charm. The Bavar­ian coun­try­side is re­plete with rolling open farm­land and thick for­est, plus oc­ca­sional quaint vil­lages that break up the natural vis­tas. You’ll start a long stretch (nearly 14 km) of climbs at the 12-km mark and, although there’s a fair amount of up­hill, it’s nei­ther re­lent­less nor too steep. In­stead sev­eral flat and down­hill sec­tions stag­gered through the as­cent pro­vide re­lief, plus there’s plenty of shade to keep you com­fort­able. Af­ter you hit the bike course’s high­est point in the town of Brennberg and en­joy a sweep­ing de­scent, the re­main­der of the course is rel­a­tively flat, with just enough bumps to keep it in­ter­est­ing. Through­out the course are sev­eral hotspots, and though these fan-gen­er­ated cheer­ing sec­tions are in their in­fancy com­pared to in­fa­mous So­lar Hill or the Bier­meile (Beer Mile) at Chal­lenge Roth, the spec­ta­tors on hand are no less crazed with ex­cite­ment for each and ev­ery com­peti­tor.

No mat­ter how hard you’re strug­gling as you start the marathon, the Chal­lenge Regensburg run course is bound to give you a boost. It’s four loops, mak­ing it men­tally man­age­able to break out and tackle one 10-km loop at a time. Your spirit (and legs) will be lifted at the start of each lap by a 2-km sec­tion that tra­verses over a stone bridge and through the me­dieval city cen­tre, with fans crowd­ing the edges of the cor­doned- off course. You’ll barely no­tice the cob­bled streets un­der­foot, buoyed by the fer­vour of thou­sands of Ger­mans em­bold­ened by their love of en­durance sport and strong Bavar­ian beer. (A food and mu­sic fes­ti­val also takes place in Regensburg on race week­end, with at­ten­dees adding ex­tra num­bers to the race spec­ta­tor ranks.) Con­tin­u­ing on, the course tran­si­tions to a shaded park path (a mix of paved and soft sur­face) along­side the Danube River, with enough on­look­ers cheer­ing en route to help main­tain your mo­ti­va­tion.

Af­ter your fourth lap, a short fi­nal leg leads through the cheer­ing masses to a length of red car­pet and the twin spires of “The Dom” (St. Peter’s Cathe­dral), a Gothic ar­chi­tec­tural masterpiece that serves as a bea­con in the city cen­tre and marks the fin­ish of the race. It’s an un­par­al­leled fin­ish venue that Sonja and Tom Ta­jsich were adamant about se­cur­ing when they re­vamped the for­mer Iron­man Regensburg (which ran from 2010–2012), bring­ing it un­der the Chal­lenge Fam­ily um­brella.

CHAL­LENGE REGENSBURG

Around and About Regensburg

Out­side of the race it­self, the UNESCO world her­itage city of Regensburg and the sur­round­ing re­gion are chock full of Euro­pean charm and unadul­ter­ated scenic beauty. It’s an ideal easy ac­cess race­ca­tion des­ti­na­tion full of fa­mil­iar com­forts to keep race week stress at bay and ac­tiv­i­ties to keep your triathlon sup­port crew en­ter­tained. Fly into Munich (ser­viced by non-stop flights from Toronto and Mon­treal) and reach Regensburg by rental car or train (about an hour and a half jour­ney). Once in­side the me­dieval city cen­tre don’t rely on your GPS, as di­rec­tions are eas­ily mud­dled; but af­ter a few hours spent ex­plor­ing you’ll eas­ily know your way around. Or, ask any­one for di­rec­tions. English is widely spo­ken and res­i­dents in the city are friendly and ea­ger to help.

Of­ten re­ferred to as “Italy’s north­ern­most city,” Regensburg re­tains a Mediter­ranean feel re­flected in its ca­sual café cul­ture at­mos­phere and end­less culi­nary of­fer­ings. Ital­ian fare (ideal for carbo-load­ing) fea­tures promi­nently, plus beer gar­dens, bak­eries and gela­te­rias abound. Stop into L’osteria Regensburg for de­li­cious pas­tas and gi­ant wood­fired piz­zas, nearly equal in size to the cir­cum­fer­ence of a race wheel. Car­ni­vores will de­light in the His­torische Wurstkuchl, a 500-year- old sausage kitchen serv­ing typ­i­cal sausages with home­made sauer­kraut and mus­tard. Do not leave town post-race with­out sam­pling one (or many) of sev­eral fea­tured choco­late flavours at craft gelato maker Diba Cho­co­lat. There’s also a large gro­cery mar­ket (Rewe) and two natural foods stores in the city cen­tre for all your fu­elling needs. Stay at Ho­tel Münch­ner Hof, just 200 me­tres from the Chal­lenge Regensburg fin­ish line and full of mod­ern ameni­ties mixed with old world ap­peal.

Last minute train­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties abound in Regensburg, with end­less miles of bike/run paths stretch­ing out in all di­rec­tions and safety con­scious cy­cling spe­cific traf­fic lights at ev­ery ma­jor in­ter­sec­tion. You – and the mul­ti­tudes of triath­letes, day cruis­ers and cy­cling tourists – will ride al­most en­tirely pro­tected from ve­hi­cle traf­fic, with plenty of space to nav­i­gate around your two-wheeled brethren. Regensburg is also home to an all-weather track and two lap swim­ming pools, just a short walk from the city cen­tre. En­durance sports re­tailer Puren­dure (owned by race di­rec­tors Tom and Sonja Ta­jsich) has you cov­ered for any for­got­ten gear.

You and your sup­port crew will stay hap­pily oc­cu­pied with the hun­dreds of unique bou­tique shops scat­tered through­out the city’s wind­ing streets, plus in­ter­est­ing ar­chi­tec­ture, his­tor­i­cal sites and photo op­por­tu­ni­ties ga­lore. There’s even a fas­ci­nat­ing golf mu­seum, if that’s what you and your en­tourage are into. And while there’s a trendy el­e­ment to Regensburg (in ad­di­tion to its me­dieval his­tory it’s a hip univer­sity town), you’re sure to see men, women and chil­dren dressed in tra­di­tional Bavar­ian dirndls and leder­ho­sen – plus plenty of shops where you can buy your own, from bud­get to cou­ture.

Cheers – from Ev­ery­one!

The sup­port you’ll ex­pe­ri­ence at Chal­lenge Regensburg is wor­thy of spe­cial men­tion. For one, your fel­low com­peti­tors are a warm and wel­com­ing bunch, cheer­ing one an­other on in the thick of com­pe­ti­tion. As an in­ter­na­tional ath­lete, with the Canadian flag af­fixed to your race bib, you’ll be revered with spe­cial re­spect and en­cour­age­ment (es­pe­cially as the event is still in its early stages and ath­letes from out­side of Europe are some­what of an anom­aly).

The race staff and vol­un­teers are sea­soned pros, many hav­ing per­sonal race ex­pe­ri­ence and all ex­hibit­ing bound­less en­thu­si­asm for your big day. And the fans? Rac­ing in Europe – and Bavaria in par­tic­u­lar – is sim­ply some­thing you need to ex­pe­ri­ence first-hand. The gast­fre­und­schaft (Ger­man for hospi­tal­ity) is ram­pant on race day. Cheers of “Hop, hop, hop!” “Ja­wohl!” “Bravo!” and “Re­spect!” – plus a num­ber of Ger­man phrases you’re un­likely to un­der­stand out­side of their pos­i­tive, pumped up sen­ti­ments – will ring in your ears long af­ter you cross the fin­ish, and will pull you to re­turn year af­ter year.

The sec­ond edi­tion of Chal­lenge Regensburg takes place on Aug. 13, 2017. In ad­di­tion to the tra­di­tional in­di­vid­ual full- dis­tance race (3.8-km swim, 180-km bike, 42.2-km run), the event of­fers a re­lay divi­sion (teams of three) and a new Chal­lenge For Two op­tion, wherein an ath­letic duo each tackles half the dis­tance of each dis­ci­pline. There’s also a Women’s Run, a Kids’ Run and a Begin­ners’ Triathlon. For de­tails and to regis­ter for the 2017 race, visit en. chal­lenge-regensburg. com.

TRAIN­ING Go to Your Happy Place

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SWIM BIKE

Bring your grumpy mood to the pool.

Ev­ery­one has off-mood days, but rec­og­nize that the peo­ple around are not to blame for what­ever is both­er­ing you. ( Well, hope­fully they aren’t.)

Dis­re­spect the coach or the work­out.

Whether you are com­plain­ing in front of ev­ery­one or just sow­ing seeds of dis­con­tent in the show­ers af­ter the work­out, you’re bum­ming ev­ery­one out. If you don’t feel the coach or her ses­sions have earned your re­spect, train else­where.

Ul­ti­mately what you need to ask your­self is this: “If ev­ery­one did what I’m do­ing, would it be chaos or har­mony?” A pos­i­tive train­ing en­vi­ron­ment starts from the top down, but ul­ti­mately it’s up to the ath­letes to cre­ate the space they want to be in.

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