Sunday September 2nd sees a who’s who of the triathlon line up for the third Challenge Walchsee. The list of starters is peppered with big names: Andreas Raelert (GER), Ronnie Schildknecht (SUI) and Timo Bracht (GER) in the men’s. In the women’s field Mary Beth Ellis (USA), Gina Crawford (NZL) and Mirjam Weerd (NED) will be fighting it out for pole position.
This year’s Challenge Walchsee is also the Austrian Half-Distance Championship with 1,500 relay and individual competitors taking on the 1.9km of swimming, 90km of cycling and 21km of running. While the top athletes will need between four and four-and-a-half hours for the triathlon, the last amateur starters are expected just before the end of the race at 4:30 p.m.
The swim leg takes place in the fantastically clear water of Lake Walchsee. The cycle leg leads through the romantic Kaiserwinkl area in two loops: Walchsee-Kössen-Erpfendorf-Huberhöhe-Schwendt. ´The dreaded Huberhöhe that is known from the Cycling Senior World Championship is a 3km-long climb with a gradient of up to 10%. This year the climb is even more attractive for the amateur athletes thanks to the “Bio vom Berg” best climber prize that is awarded to the fastest man and woman among the amateurs. No doubt this is the hot spot of the cycle leg. And at the end of the race the athletes have to run around Lake Walchsee four times.
The many volunteers that distribute food and drinks at the food stations ensure that the participants don’t run out of power. And of course it’s also at the traditional pasta party on Saturday evening, where a Tyrolean specialty, “Kaiserschmarrn” (shredded pancakes with sugar and raisins), is served for dessert.
True to the motto of the Challenge Family series “We are Family” a fun triathlon (400m, 14km, 4km) for newcomers and the already traditional Junior Challenge for the young-and-upcoming athletes takes place on Saturday, perhaps marking the start of some new triathlon careers! Challenge Walchsee is part of the global Challenge Family series of long distance triathlons that features 12 races in Europe, North America and Australasia.