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Challenge Roth 2024: Special shoes and supreme talent – can Patrick Lange break triathlon’s mythical 2:30 marathon mark?

German star has gone so close to dipping under two hours and 30 minutes for the marathon - could Sunday at Challenge Roth be the day?

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The win is obviously the big target for Patrick Lange heading into Challenge Roth on Sunday – but the first-ever sub 2:30 marathon in a full-distance race would be a great bonus too.

The German legend, the IRONMAN World Champion in Kona in both 2017 and 2018, didn’t race Roth until 2021. But he quickly made up for lost time with an emphatic victory by over 10 minutes.

Since then he has twice finished second to hat-trick seeking Magnus Ditlev and this weekend he had been hoping to avenge another defeat as well – at the hands of Tomas Rodriguez Hernandez at IRONMAN Texas in April.

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Score to settle

Back in 2016, Texas was the first IRONMAN race which Lange won (and took part in) but a couple of months ago something very unusual happened in the Lone Star State – he was outrun in the marathon.

Mexico’s Rodriguez, in just his second full-distance race, produced a spectacular 2:34:14 split – just over a minute faster than Lange – to take the victory.

His early speed on the run was astonishing – not much more than 30 minutes for the first 10K, then a 1:13 half – and he had been offered a financial incentive by Roth race organisers to try and break 2:30 for the marathon in Bavaria, so long as he clocked the fastest run. Unfortunately he’s since announced he will miss the race for personal reasons.

One of the most mythical marks in long-course triathlon, the sub-2:30 marathon has never been broken, with Lange coming closest himself last year in Roth with a 2:30:27 split.

Lange also ran 2:30:31 at IRONMAN Israel in 2022, so it’s no wonder there’s such speculation the record could go on Sunday.

Speaking at the pre-race press conference when asked by TRI247’s Jenny Lucas-Hill about Rodriguez, he said: “He kind of came out of nowhere in Texas and we were shocked and impressed to see him run 31 minutes or whatever it was for the first 10K.

“I was looking forward to a real good battle with him here, especially on the run course – it would add that little bit of extra spice. Because he obviously beat me in a race that means a lot to me with Texas being my first ever IRONMAN.

“It was a defeat that touched me a little bit and I thought that this is a good chance to take revenge .

“We will see what the future will bring and hopefully he comes back in the next couple of years and we just postpone the battle for a little time.”

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Super shoes

One quirk of Roth is that there are fewer restrictions on the shoes for the run – Lange himself was sporting a prototype adidas pair 12 months ago when he went so close to the record.

He added: “It’s not a secret that I’m trying to break the 2h30 mark on Sunday and the fact that adidas has created a specific shoe for little old triathlon, even with the massive European Championships going on, is unreal, and of course it’s a legal shoe!

“I’m really excited about this – it will be full throttle from the start to the finish and I guarantee that I will do everything.”

Patrick Lange crosses the finish line Challenge Roth 2023
Patrick Lange crosses the finish line at Challenge Roth 2023 [Photo credit: Challenge Roth]

And while Lange wouldn’t say whether or not he would break the 2:30 mark, Denmark’s Daniel Bækkågard, sitting alongside him, pointed out: “I think this is the course to do it – if you can run that fast in Israel with that amount of climbing then running 2:30 here has got to be possible.”

Lange also goes into the race knowing that his hoodoo against Ditlev is over. The Dane of course is seeking a third straight win and in head-to-heads between the pair, the Dane had always finished ahead until last year’s IMWC in Nice when they were second and third.

And Lange is hoping that the knockout result at Euro 2024 between Germany and Denmark is repeated.

He signed off by saying: “I proved I could beat him last year at the World Championships and I want to try and do what the football guys did against the Danes – 2-0!”

Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  
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