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Can you pick a favourite for Challenge Roth this weekend?

Three Kona champs and one of the sport's up and coming stars set to light up the world's fastest full-distance course

Photo by: Challenge Roth/ Christoph Raithel

With four of the five fastest full-distance women on the planet set to compete, this weekend’s Challenge Roth promises to be one of the most competitive races we’re likely to see in 2023. Reigning Ironman world champ Chelsea Sodaro (USA) will take on 2019 Kona champ, Germany’s Anne Haug (who has won the last two editions of the race in Bavaria) and five-time world champ Daniela Ryf (SUI), making for a mouth-watering contest that is sure to thrill triathlon fans around the world.

And while all the Kona champs are in the field, so, too, is Germany’s Laura Philipp, who has won every full-distance she’s competed in that hasn’t taken place on the Big Island. (She’s had two fourth-place finishes in Kona.)

The only full-distance competitor who could add to this mix is four-time Kona runner up Lucy Charles-Barclay.

Anne Haug, left, and Laura Philipp. Photo: Challenge Roth/ Christoph Raithel

“World Best” time?

Philipp came very close to breaking Chrissie Wellington’s world best time at Ironman Hamburg last year – her 8:18:20 was just seven seconds off the time Wellington recorded in winning Challenge Roth in 2011.

Daniela Ryf. Photo: Challenge Roth/ Christoph Raithel

“I have been here twice and have great memories,” Ryf said at todays press conference. “The race will be hot and full of passion. If you want to win the race, you will have to break the world record.”

Ryf’s personal best was set in Roth – the 8:22:04 time she posted in winning the race in 2016.

Daniela Ryf makes a bold statement with her eighth win at Ironman 70.3 Switzerland

The Swiss star returned to top form a few weeks ago with a big win over PTO top ranked Ashleigh Gentle, which will no-doubt give her some confidence heading into Sunday’s race. To win, though, Ryf will have to open a gap on the bike – she’ll have three of the sport’s premier runners to contend with.

Anne Haug. Photo: Challenge Roth/ Christoph Raithel

Haug in top form

As the two-time defending champ, Haug is all too familiar with the race Roth. Earlier this year she dominated Ironman 70.3 Lanzarote, was equally as dominant at Challenge Mogan-Gran Canaria and then ran away with the PTO European Open.

As strong as Haug has been this year, if Sodaro and Philipp are at their best they could compete with her for the day’s fastest run split. In Hamburg last year Philipp ran a 2:45 marathon, while Sodaro blasted through to a 2:51 split to take the Kona title last year. Making things even scarier, the former elite runner was competing in just her second full-distance race on the Big Island.

Chelsea Sodaro. Photo: Challenge Roth/ Christoph Raithel

Sodaro is relishing the experience of racing in Roth, renowned for its incredible community support.

“What I hear is that you’re not a proper triathlete until you race at this race and I really wanted to come,” she said. “I have felt so welcomed, it’s a race like no other. Unlike other race experiences I’ve had, you feel embraced by the community and you feel part of the family. It really is the home of triathlon.”

Others to watch

Two other women to keep an eye on this weekend will be 2012 Olympic silver medalist Lisa Norden (SWE) and Great Britain’s Fenella Langridge, who was second in Roth last year.

Live coverage and tracking of the race can be found here.