“You hear how big the crowds are in Roth but until you actually experience it, you cannot really comprehend just how big, loud and enthusiastic they are.” Rachel Joyce reflects on her maiden Roth race, and taking line honours with her second sub 9hr performance of the year, claiming the title of the fifth fastest Iron-distance female ever, and becoming the European Long Course Champion for 2012.

Challenge Roth race favourite, but by no means clear favourite with a stacked field, Rachel Joyce trailed Lucie Zelenkova-Reed out of the two lap swim by 6secs. That was the only time she would see the back of one of her competitors all day. It wasn’t long until Joyce hit the lead on the bike, and by the 37km marker, Zelenkova-Reed was pushed back to third, while Mirjam Weerd had  flown into second position and was chasing Joyce hard.

Joyce put her foot down and pulled away from Weerd, while local, Julia Gajer nudged her way into second, and strong Australian cyclist, and returning to Roth for the ninth time, Belinda Granger, made her way into fourth place. Joyce described the infamous Solarer Berg hill where crowds swarm the roads as “Incredible! The energy from the crowds meant I barely thought I was going up a hill… Well, the first time round anyway!” Making moves further down the field, was another favourite going into the race, Sonja Tajsich, who has a great bike and run combination. Granger fell back off the pace feeling sick on the bike, and Tajsich continued to make time on the leaders, Joyce, Weerd and Gajer. In the closing kilometers of the race, Joyce put more time into Weerd and Tajsich jumped into third position. Another mover in the field was Germany’s Britta Martin. Off the bike, the Brit, Joyce, had averaged 36.7kph, for a total of 4:54 for her bike split, Weerd was off the bike in second and the Germans – Tajsich, Gajer and Martin – were coming.

Joyce was out of the gates fast, running 3:53min/kms and felt like she constantly surrounded by supporters, “there are a lot of hot spots all around the course and the run course takes you around Roth’s market place – the noise and cheers there almost matched Solarer.” She quickly put time into Weerd who appeared to be fading. By the half way mark, Tajsich had reeled in Weerd, and was slowly gaining on Joyce. In a matter of kilometres, Weerd had dropped off the pace even further and Gajer was running in third position.

Tajsich was getting away from her chasers and running faster than Joyce, but was running out of road to reel her in. “I knew Sonja would run strong and I knew she’d made up time. I had some ups and downs during the run and knew I was light on run mileage coming into Roth. However, once I got to 32 km with a decent buffer I knew I could ease up a little. I wanted a victory here, but didnt want to go to the well if I could avoid it!” Joyce said.

Crossing the pumping finish line in 8:54:04, Joyce claimed victory in her second Iron-distance win ever and second sub 9hr performance of 2012. She also became the fifth fastest Iron-distance female ever behind Chrissie Wellington, Caroline Steffen, Rebekah Keat and Mary Beth Ellis. On how those stats made her feel, Joyce replied, “pretty darned good! I was actually a little overwhelmed when I crossed the finish line.  It’s such an iconic race – I was very happy to win. My advice to anyone is – Do this race!”

Tajsich continued her strong marathon pace with the fastest run split of the day in 2:55:43, and came in second behind the Brit, with Gajer rounding out the podium. A special mention must go to New Zealand’s Gina Crawford, who came flying home with a 3hr marathon. Two Iron-distance races in two weeks, with a sub 9hr performance at Roth. A fantastic return to racing this year after the birth of her son.

Our ambassador, Belinda Granger hung on for a tough top 10 finish. She wrote this on her facebook account after the event: “Never in my 45 ironman distance races have I struggled with the notion of DNF’ing. After a great swim I was sick for the entire 180kms on the bike. I decided at 175kms that I would pull the pin in T2. When I got there I thought ‘maybe I will just run a few kms’. Every km until 17km I kept telling myself ‘it’s over, I am going to step off the course’. I stopped at 17km and asked myself this question ‘how are you going to feel about it tomorrow morning?’ I knew the answer straight away. A DNF was not an option – especially here in Roth where the fans are so dedicated and so appreciative of what we do. So for the first time in my career I negative split the marathon. I finished the race off the only way I know how – with everything I had on the day. YES I will be back for #10 in 2013.”


– photos courtesy of Getty Images



Name Swim Trans 1 Bike Trans 2 Run Finish
Joyce, Rachel (GBR) 00:47:37 00:01:39 04:54:37 00:01:20 02:59:53 08:45:04
Tajsich, Sonja (GER) 00:55:50 00:01:38 04:55:14 00:01:24 02:55:43 08:49:47
Gajer, Julia (GER) 00:50:14 00:01:33 05:02:11 00:01:10 03:01:55 08:57:02
Crawford, Gina (NZL) 00:50:17 00:01:57 05:04:55 00:02:23 03:00:05 08:59:35
Martin, Britta (GER) 00:55:41 00:02:07 04:56:46 00:01:04 03:05:35 09:01:10
Weerd, Mirjam (NED) 00:50:11 00:02:10 04:56:07 00:01:38 03:12:35 09:02:39
Görtz, Beate (GER) 00:58:26 00:01:52 05:01:07 00:01:20 03:10:42 09:13:26
Kujala, Wenke (GER) 00:56:31 00:01:45 05:03:41 00:01:33 03:21:51 09:25:19
Zelenkova-Reed, Lucie (CZE) 00:47:31 00:01:37 05:05:30 00:01:21 03:30:24 09:26:20
Granger, Belinda (AUS) 00:50:33 00:02:04 05:07:13 00:02:04 03:24:57 09:26:48
Grice, Yvette (GBR) 00:53:15 00:01:44 05:16:16 00:02:09 03:18:31 09:31:53
Kuch, Celia (GER) 00:58:31 00:01:54 05:09:39 00:02:10 03:22:08 09:34:20
Neuscheler, Evi (GER) 01:01:04 00:02:13 05:10:08 00:01:37 03:21:12 09:36:13
Bohn, Julia (GER) 00:56:15 00:01:56 05:17:55 00:01:35 03:19:57 09:37:37
Bremer, Michelle (NZL) 00:55:14 00:01:49 05:16:08 00:01:50 03:23:24 09:38:23
Hayes, Tamsyn (NZL) 00:54:13 00:01:51 05:14:02 00:01:28 03:29:34 09:41:06
Hoschke, Rebecca (AUS) 00:56:26 00:02:26 05:16:16 00:01:15 03:30:21 09:46:41
Schücker, Linda (GER) 00:58:17 00:01:39 05:10:08 00:01:14 03:36:58 09:48:14
Heimerl, Manuela (GER) 00:56:02 00:02:33 05:24:13 00:01:20 03:24:55 09:49:01
Kuhn, Nina (GER) 00:58:47 00:01:57 05:09:20 00:01:17 03:38:35 09:49:54
Ganzow, Astrid (GER) 00:56:00 00:02:09 05:25:59 00:01:35 03:27:26 09:53:07
Kemp, Shannon (GER) 01:03:17 00:02:44 05:18:07 00:02:36 03:27:49 09:54:31
Carritt, Joanna (GBR) 01:00:23 00:02:00 05:17:54 00:01:46 03:42:52 10:04:53
Mess, Judith (GER) 00:57:47 00:01:41 05:33:32 00:01:44 03:34:41 10:09:23
Worland, Jacinta (AUS) 00:53:35 00:01:58 05:34:49 00:01:23 03:38:09 10:09:53

About The Author

Stef Hanson. Chief.

Chief and founder of WITSUP

Serious about what I do, but don’t take myself too seriously

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One Response

  1. Jo Coombe

    We are all now accustomed to BG’s amazing attitude.
    But put that performance in context – sick throughout the bike leg, her body telling her to stop, but her mind overrides all that and she runs a neg split and is the highest placed Aussie!! Most of us would be thrilled with a 3.24 as our “perfect” run!!
    Recover well, Belinda, we need you out there racing for many years to come!!


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