Challenge Kraichgau - Grant talks us through the course
June 5, 2014
Racing Kraichgau? Truly a wonderful and challenging course!
Challenge Kraichgau is a delightful race, even though the full Race Force team will not be supporting the event. You may see me as I will be there. Last year I raced the Olympic Distance and decided I had to step and do the half Iron distance. Last week, with some local mates, we gathered at the swim start. A man made lake with clear cool water awaits swimmers. No current and more than likely no waves to worry about. Almost always a wet suit race. A traditional start in Kraichgau is with the ACDCs Hells Bells ringing loud and then the cannon booming, for every wave. Sounds corny, but it is a rush. The swim is easy enough on a rectangular course. Then a short run into T1. Lots of volunteers to help with wetsuits and so forth.On the bike, the first 10.5 miles are flat enough with only a few turns, then the hills begin, and there are lots of them as you'll see on my Garmin report. (FYI, the Gamin report includes an extra 5.5 miles after T2)
Things begin to get technical once you make the finish the first major climb at the mile12 point and pass the small white chapel on your right. You'll remember the chapel well since you'll pass it again on your way back at the mile point after a long climb! You'll go down a fast, long downhill on which you can really fly. Worth biking this before hand, just to get the feel of the turns if you're on your aero bars. Once you see the stone turret ahead on your left (see pic), a sharp right turn is coming. Watch out there, sometimes the road isn't swept of the gravel. After that, you'll be in the heart of the bike ride through lots of small German farming villages with half timbered homes. Plenty of steep, short hills here, but I found that I was able to recover well from mile 28 to mile 38 as the hills became shorter and less frequent. Then you'll see the same stone turret again, this time on your right and get your mind wrapped around a steady 1.75 mile long hill. The hill is classic because you think you are near the top, but there seemingly is always more hill around the next bend in the road! Once you go past the white chapel, pick up your pace and get ready for some nice downhills and the final 6 miles. Take lots of care though in the village of Ostringen. There a several sharp, sharp turns that are well known for their road rash they've caused in the past. I've seen the blood and it wasn't mine! Once out of Ostringen, you can go aero again and get your mind ready for the run.T2 and the Finish Line (Ziel in German): Check out T2 and the run course before race day. It's confusing! Easy to get turned around and lose time. The run course is mostly flat but there are hills, so be mentally prepared. Overall, a delightful race and one I encourage people to do. T
he Kraichgau region is near the Rhine river with plenty of castles, history and vineyards nearby for post race enjoyment.