Former German age group athlete, now professional, Michael Göhner used his scintillating foot speed to destroy the hopes of his more experienced and better credentialled competitors to literally run away with the 2009 Quelle Challenge in Roth today.
Göhner has been knocking on the door with second places at Ironman South Africa in April and also the Ironman European Championships in Frankfurt last year, but his breakthrough long distance win at Roth still came as a surprise to many of the 150,000 people lining the famous course.
The 29-year-old Göhner shattered his previous PB of 8:11 to record a sensational 7:55:53, reeling in Stadler and Aussie Pete Jacobs in the grueling marathon to sneak under the radar and record the best win of his career.
It was predicted that defending champion Patrick Vernay and German ace Normann Stadler would battle it out for the honours but it would never eventuate with Stadler finishing fourth and Vernay fifth.
Instead the day belonged to Göhner, Jacobs (second place for the second year) and Roth debutante and multiple world Adventure Racing championRichard Ussher of New Zealand, who came third.
Göhner excelled in the glorious race conditions and received a hero's welcome from the crowd, becoming the first German athlete to win the Quelle Challenge Roth title since Lothar Leder in 2003.
"It is an overwhelming feeling to have my first win over the long distance and also to be able to come back to Roth to celebrate my first national championship success. It is really wonderful."
Above all else, including the World Ironman Championships in Hawaii in October, Göhner's main priority for 2009 was to win in Roth.
"Previously I have finished second in Frankfurt but to win in Roth is something special. Roth is about the community, the organisers, the people on the course and those of the local area, it is a great advertisement for the sport of triathlon."
But it was the manner in which Göhner won the race, with a 2:41 marathon, that impressed.
"There is a lot of talk before the race with people talking about their expectations, but that is not my cup of tea. I like being the underdog and I am sure it will be difficult to be that way next year, but I will be prepared," he said.
Jacobs, third at his first attempt in Roth and second last year, thought early on the run it might have been his day, with a scorching 45:57 swim and a strong ride positioning him only six minutes off the back of Stadler at T2 and ready to pounce.
"The first 15km of the run went well. I was on good pace and felt comfortable but I was still losing ground to Michael Göhner who was chasing me. I thought 'Gees, he is running really quick,' because I was running really quick."
"But then I started to slow down after 16 kilometres and it went downhill from there. Michael passed at about the 18km mark and I sat about 15m behind him and we went through halfway in 1:20."
"Oddly I never got a second wind and I just got slower and slower which was a bit disappointing. Michael just kept going away and I wasn't in the race from that point on and was in a lot of pain. Luckily I was putting time into Normann so I was safe."
With about 12 km to go Jacobs started to minimise the damage and just did what he needed to do to keep second place.
"I obviously want to get back into training for Hawaii so I didn't want to kill myself. I went easier in the last 10km but kept looking behind me all the time, holding something in reserve in case someone was closing on me near the end."
"The way I felt on the run I can't believe I have gone 8:02 and come second. When I think about that I am happy," he said.
Richard Ussher's third place was an outstanding result for a guy who says he only "dabbles" in long distance triathlon.
"It was fantastic to get the opportunity to race in Roth and the result was beyond anything I expected, it seems a bit unreal.
"I decided before the race to leave everything on the course and give it everything even if I blew up. During the first 70km of the bike I wasn't feeling very good but after receiving the support of the crowd on Solarer Berg I suddenly had a lot of energy and it last for a fair amount of the race."
"I never would have thought I would get an 8:02, so to do it in only my third race I am just rapt."
"Before the race I was thinking that I need to make a decision whether to continue with triathlon or not. But I have gone well here; I think I probably should keep doing some of them. Maybe Challenge Wanaka in January," Ussher said.
Quelle Challenge Roth
Roth, Germany; 12 July 2009
1) Michael Göhner (GER) 7:55:53 (50:30/4:21:25/2:41:17)
2) Pete Jacobs (AUS) 8:02:01 (45:57/4:23:47/2:49:13)
3) Richard Ussher (NZL) 8:02:15 (50:31/4:22:02/2:46:58)
4) Normann Stadler (GER) 8:03:43 (48:56/4:14:42/2:5:51)
5) Patrick Vernay (NCL) 8:03:46 (47:44/4:25:08/2:48:05)
6) Olaf Sabatschus (GER) 8:06:01 (50:31/4:22:21/2:50:22)
7) Raynard Tissink (RSA) 8:07:18 (47:34/4:24:16/2:52:38)
8) Swen Sundberg (GER) 8:07:50 (50:27/4:21:48/2:53:10)
9) Luke Dragstra (CAN) 8:13:51 (49:02/4:24:05/2:58:10)
10) Petr Vabrousek (CZE) 8:15:03 (53:13/4:30:30/2:47:33)
Women's World Record Shattered At Quelle Challenge Roth
World records continued to tumble at the Quelle Challenge Roth with Chrissie Wellington, Rebekah Keat and Catriona Morrison all going under the world's best time set here by Yvonne van Vlerken (8:45:48) last year.
Wellington and her colleagues stole the show in Roth, treating the massive crowd, estimated at more than 150,000, to an awesome display of power triathlon.
At the bike/run transition was obvious that the two-time world champion was clearly living up to her three promises of having fun, winning the race and targeting the previous best time.
With her brother watching her compete for the very first time, Wellington put on a great show, blitzing the bike in 4:40:28 and setting herself up for a date with destiny. A "conservative" marathon with a couple of bad patches gave Wellington a split of 2:57-enough to ensure she shattered the previous best time, lowering it to a staggering 8:31:59.
Minutes later Keat repeated the feat, posting the second fastest time ever of 8:39:24. Long course debutante Morrison made it three from three, shaving 36 seconds off the old record for her third-place finish.
The crowd could not believe their eyes and the even the athletes struggled to understand what they had achieved.
Wellington's record was even more remarkable given she'd been ill in the weeks leading up to the race.
"That was as near a perfect race as I am ever going to get. It was the perfect day, with perfect conditions for world record days and this course is as phenomenal as everybody says it is. The supporters have blown me away, just the enthusiasm and the energy you get from people."
"I had a good solid swim, I couldn't believe my ride time and I was super happy with it. It was clean and a really great course and on the run I felt good for the first 10km. On the second 10 km I was pretty shabby and my legs started to seize up a bit and then I came good on the second half marathon."
"I am ecstatic and never expected to go that fast and a huge credit has to go to the other girls, especially Bek. She pushed me so much and it is an amazing improvement for her."
Wellington said sport is all about seeing how far as she can go and being as good as she can be. In doing so she credited her old coach and her new team for her success.
"I know I can get faster and stronger. This race has given me great confidence and it shows that despite the changes over past year that I still race with the same heart and the same head and the same passion for triathlon. And that is all that counts."
"Having said that credit goes out to Brett Sutton and the team for giving me that chance initially and teaching me the art of war, and my new team for topping it all off."
"Every day I have to pinch myself and I still can't believe this is happening to me. I never set out with the intention of breaking world records or becoming world champion. I have to take a step back each and every day and don't take it for granted because it is so easy to get carried away. I am humbled and honoured to be in this position."
"I am still coming to terms with the fact that I have won the World Ironman Championship, I think the idea of being world champion and world record holder is going to take a while to sink in," Wellington said.
Keat, too, credited Sutton with turning her career around.
"I thought I could go 8:47 but not 8:39. I looked at my watch and thought that can't be right. I predicted Chrissie to go 8:35 and went even quicker. I am happy to be that close to her."
"All credit to my coach Brett. I used to be distracted quite easily but now I have structure in my life and training. No distractions, no coffee shops or movies, no sleeping during the day."
"Training is just so hard that it makes racing easy. I was quite comfortable out there. It is always going to hurt to do a marathon but I didn’t start to hurt until the 30km mark. I am just so happy how my body went. After another year with Brett, lets see if I can get one over Chrissie one day."
Keat said that Wellington had revolutionized the sport of long distance triathlon, continually lifting the bar.
"No one has come near her. I must be one of the closest to her since she started Ironman. The girls are just pushing each other to their limits and Bella Comerford went 8:48 last weekend and I have gone under 8:40. It is crazy. With Chrissie coming along we have had to step up to another level," Keat declared.
Fresh from the worlds of duathlon and short course triathlon, the third-place Morrison has put up the most impressive long distance debut on record. Most people are hoping to finish in their first race but Morrison not only finished but became the third fastest woman in the history of the sport.
"I honestly don't know what I have done, but I guess I should be pretty proud. If you had seen me at kilometre 15 on the run, you would have been thinking 'Oh my god.'."
Earlier in the week she admitted being scared witless by the thought of competing in her first long distance triathlon but a decision the night before the race changed everything.
"I decided last night that there was absolutely no point in being nervous about something you have never experienced before. I knew all I had to do was swim four km and ride five hours, and I do that every week."
"The big unknown was gonna be the marathon because I have never done one before. I have never run more than two hours and 15 minutes before."
Off the bike with Keat and Belinda Granger, Morrison only lost touch when nature intervened at the halfway mark when she was feeling under the weather.
"Halfway through the run I said to myself, maybe you are supposed to feel [terrible]. Maybe that is the deal."
"I was sick three times, in the portaloo twice and had two forest stops. I everywhere from 3:54 km rate up to five minutes, it was all over the place. The last few km I finally found my legs again and I felt good and knew I could get home," the Scot said.
Quelle Challenge Roth
Roth, Germany; 12 July 2009
1) Chrissie Wellington (GBR) 8:31:59 (50:28/4:40:28/2:57:32)
2) Rebekah Keat (AUS) 8:39:24 (50:21/4:50:10/2:55:28)
3) Catriona Morrison (SCO) 8:48:11 (51:46/4:48:55/3:03:57)
4) Erika Csomor (HUN) 8:59:42 (53:16/4:54:37/3:08:29)
5) Belinda Granger (AUS) 9:12:12 (51:48/4:48:26/3:28:14)
6) Jessica Jacobs (USA) 9:25:24 (1:02:27/5:06:56/3:11:00)
7) Katja Rabe (GER) 9:25:43 (53:15/5:16:45/3:12:51)
8) Nicole Best (GER) 9:31:02(55:54/5:14:04/3:18:10)
9) Anja Ippach (GER) 9:37:08 (48:54/5:12:07/3:32:58)
10) Christine Waitz (GER) 9:42:21 (56:00/5:13:58/3:29:28)