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Roth: Rachel Joyce Sub-9, Cunnama Sub-8
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Sunday 8th July 2012


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An epic day for iron-distance racing in Germany today. The long-standing Challenge Roth event, home of the iron-distance world record of Andreas Raelert a year ago welcomed perhaps the biggest iron-distance field ever, the 2012 edition adding the ETU European Long Distance Triathlon Championship title to it's already legendary status within the sport.

Men

France's Benjamin Sanson, now in 'veteran' status as is typical lead the swim (45:58) with 20 seconds over Alexander Janitzki (GER) and 1:04 over Johann Ackermann (GER). The bulk of the field exited the water from 1:23 in arrears, a long line of athletes including the pre-race favourites Bracht (GER), Cunnama (RSA), Brown (NZL) and Aigroz (SUI). Brits Stephen Bayliss, Stephen Lord and Ireland's Matt Molloy were all within that line of around 20 athletes - a great start to their day.

Germany's Konstantin Bachor was part of that large swim pack, but he was in no mood to hang around with it on the bike and set the early pace on the ride. While he had initial company of fellow German Georg Potrebitsch, by 70km he was over three minutes clear of the main favourites, 120km well over eight and extended that further to ten by T2. a 4:19:30 bike split was the reward for his efforts, but surely he would pay come marathon time.

Aigroz, Cunnama and Bracht headed out on to the run course together, ten and half minutes in arrears with Bayliss, Potrebitsch and Brown a further two+ minutes behind. Cameron Brown has been in great form ant 40 years of age - could he achieve his goal of a sub-8 hour finish?

Bracht and Cunnama immediately dropped Aigroz, while simultaneously making great strides - literally - into the lead of Bachor. With less than a third of the marathon gone, the lead was more than halved, Bracht and Cunnama running stride-for-stride.

Always a strong runner, the teamTBB member Cunnama was able to break away from Bracht mid-way through the marathon, gradually extended his lead to three minutes over the later stages of the run, Bracht still running steadily with Aigroz now up to third passing the tiring Bachor.

The remaining question... would we see a sub-eight hour time. Yes..just! With just one second to spare - via a 2:40:06 marathon - Cunnama won and crossed the line in 7:59:59 for a huge PB to become the 19th athlete to join the sub-8 iron-distance club, the 27th fastest time recorded.

Finishing in fifth place overall - and taking bronze in the ETU Champs - Stephen Bayliss set a new PB of 8:13:01, the fourth fastest time ever by a British athlete.

Women

Lucie Zelenkova-Reed and Great Britain's Rachel Joyce headed the swim today, their swift (47:31 / 47:37) times putting them on a par with many of the top men such as Timo Bracht, Cameron Brown, Stephen Bayliss and the much improved swimming over the past couple of years of James Cunnama.

The ever-improving Rachel Joyce was straight to the front on the bike, steadily increasing her lead through the 180km to reach T2 4:35 clear of Miriam Weerd (NED), Sonja Tajsich (GER) 8:49 back and Julia Gajer - second last year - ten minutes in arrears. Joyce has developed into a fantastic runner over the past year, surely the win was hers - with 'just' 26.2 miles to run!

Weerd last time from the start of the run, while the gap to Tajsich in second (having passed Weerd), was maintained, hovering at or around eight minutes over that first half marathon. Tajsich did manage to chip away slightly at that margin over the second half of the run, and with two kilometres remaining was five and a half minutes in arrears - but too little, too late - nobody was going to stop the ITU World Long Distance Champion Joyce from adding the ETU European title to her increasingly impressive resumé. 8:45:04 was her finish time - a 1:05 improvement on her great race earlier this season at Ironman Melbourne - and makes her the fifth fastest iron-lady all-time. Seriously, it couldn't happen to a nicer lady.

In second, Sonja Tajsich (GER) also recorded her second sub-eight hour iron-distance finish and moved her way up the all-time listing.

Yvette Grice took 11th in a fine 9:31:53 (almost certainly a lifetime best for her), with Joanna Carritt 23rd (10:04:53).

Pos Men Women
1st James Cunnama (RSA) 7:59:59 Rachel Joyce (GBR) 8:45:04
2nd Timo Bracht (GER) 8:03:28 Sonja Tajsich (GER) 8:49:47
3rd Mike Aigroz (SUI) 8:08:01 Julia Gajer (GER) 8:57:02
4th Cameron Brown (NZL) 8:10:05 Gina Crawford (NZL) 8:59:35
5th Stephen Bayliss (GBR) 8:13:01 Britta Martin (GER) 9:01:10
6th Konstantin Bachor (GER) 8:13:36 Mirjam Weerd (NED) 9:02:39
7th Dorian Wagner (GER) 8:19:47 Beate Görtz (GER) 9:13:26
8th Georg Potrebitsch (GER) 8:21:29 Wenke Kujala (GER) 9:25:19
9th Per Bittner (GER) 8:22:51 Lucie Zelenkova-Reed (CZE) 9:26:20
10th Roeland Smiths (NED) 8:32:10 Belina Granger (AUS) 9:26:48

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