With less than a week to go, the 4th issue of the Sparkassen CHALLENGEHEILBRONN powered by AUDI will take place with a few innovative changes. New courses, new time schedule, new faces – Race Director Kai Sauser and his team have great plans for the 1,800 triathletes from 36 nations that will be at the start line on 17th June 2018.

The Athletes 2018
Numerous international athletes will be racing for the first time alongside familiar faces including reigning champion Daniela Sämmler and Dutchwoman Yvonne Van Vlerken, who unfortunately suffered a crash last year. They will be battling against the multiple Dutch national champion Sarissa De Vriess, second at the ETU Long Distance European Championships and Nina Kuhn, current German Long-Distance champion, as well as ladies from the Czech Republic, Great Britain and Hungary.

Similarly, there’s strong competition amongst the male line up. Former champions Andreas Böcherer and Sebastian Kienle will be joined by promising local hero Malte Plappert from Kienle’s home Tri-Team Heuchelberg, who excelled as third at the tough Cannes International Triathlon at the start of the season. Horst Reichel and Swiss athlete Sven Riederer will be challenging them in the fight for the title.

New courses, new time schedule
The most significant change to the race in 2018 is the bike course. For the first time, the course will not only take the athletes through the familiar Zabergäu district but will also include Leintal and Kraichgau along the B293 federal road until they reach Eppingen. “The feedback from the athletes after our test ride was overwhelming,” says Sauser, “they also liked the steep climb at the Heuchelberger Warte towards the end of the bike.” The subsequent modified run course takes place on the eastern bank of the river Neckar with a single turning point in the Wertwiesenpark public park.

The time schedule has also been revised this year. „Our aim was not only to make the race even more interesting for athletes but also for the spectators. Moreover, the new time schedule will shorten the time that the roads are closed for the residents,” says Sauser. The first start will be for the Olympic distance athletes and will take place at 08:45 a.m. The Challenge Half Distance race will begin at 9:15 a.m followed by the Sprint Distance at 10:05 a.m. As in previous years, the entire race will be broadcasted live from 8.45 in the morning on www.challenge-heilbronn.de.

Attractive side events for the whole family
As in the past, 2018 will include an extensive side event program. The little ones will kick-off the event on Saturday 16th June 2018 and from noon, kids from 6 years and older will participate at the Junior Challenge Heilbronn, powered by Soehnergroup of Tri-Team Heuchelberg. Afterwards, at around 4:30 p.m, the ladies will run the Challenge Women’s 5k, traditionally hosted by the Soroptimist Club Heilbronn.

The ‘Maultaschen’ carbo loading party followed by the race briefing will lead the evening events at the Kolbenschmidt-Arena hockey stadium. Pre-race day will draw to a close at around 6:45 pm with a pro talk followed by live music on the Neckar stage nearby. Challenge Heilbronn’s race director, Kai Sauser is pleased to announce that for the first time at this event, the acoustic pop rock reggae band “Dicke Fische” will be on stage and as always “the concert is for everybody, Heilbronn residents and guests, and will stay free of charge!

Photo credit: Ingo Kutsche

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