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Race Review: Challenge Roth 2023

Sep 7, 2023

Jennie Pennington

Jennie Pennington

Jennie Pennington is a Sportstiks sponsored athlete. As a seasoned triathlete she will be sharing her experiences and top tips through our blog.

To begin this partnership she has written about training and competing in Challenge Roth 2023. She also shares how she works towards her goals and how she keeps her herself motivated.

Challenge Roth 2023

by Jennie Pennnington

Training plan

This journey has taken just under two years to plan, build and execute the time I wanted.

I think sometimes people just see the success not the journey. But the build to this was a gradual process of adding brick after brick.

I initially looked at all my areas of development and where I needed to make gains. One key area was my running. Whilst this was in no way “poor”, for me to succeed with the goal of sub 12 I needed to work on my strength and speed.

I needed to gain confidence and be able to execute a strong marathon pace when needed at the back end of Roth. The aim was a 5km PB and a ½ marathon PB. Working hard on my endurance and maintaining pace and building pace. Both these sub goals were achieved December 2022, and March 2023.

I continued to work hard on my running, mixing HR (Heart rate) runs with intervals making sure I stayed injury free yet continued to grow in strength. I also added in strength sets at the gym.

This season I had a build of warm up races. A duathlon which I had a very strong bike leg and gave me confidence and then an Olympic distance race again running my best times. This was the aim as I was training huge miles and endurance still for Roth.

Before I knew it the B race rolled in, and I was lining up at Outlaw 70.3 Nottingham. This was where I practiced training, things like HR zones and nutrition strategies. When I first signed with my coach, he asked what my dream goal would be. My response was “I would love one day to get on the Age Group podium at Outlaw.” It’s where I started my 70.3 journey, and I was in awe of those achieving these great times and levels. Fast forward to me this season having a strong race coming in at 5:08:32 and getting 2nd place!!! I was overjoyed. Blown away by what I had achieved, I never thought it was possible for me to achieve what I did while the goal was sub 12 for Roth.


Jennie Pennington at Outlaw Triathlon

Pre-race headspace

After Outlaw 70.3 I continued to build volume. There were dark days especially as the build was reaching maximum capacity the 17 hours training weeks, it was tough both physically and mentally, it was a juggling act of working full time, household chores, briefly seeing family and friends, eating and sleeping.

The relief I felt to finally hit taper was such a joy, but the taper crazies quickly creep in. You doubt yourself, you feel lazy, you question everything. I knew deep down I couldn’t have given my sub 12 challenge anymore. I had trained so hard.

The anxiety and the level of pressure I had out on myself were at times overwhelming! I don’t mind admitting there were a few tears shed at various times when the enormity of what I was about to do just got to me.

I went through a wave of emotions leading into the race. Nerves and anxiety, switched to excitement and anticipation.

Race Day

Roth is a huge event. The biggest I have ever done, yet it also has this amazing energy and vibe that is magical and breath taking.

As we stood before the race start the nerves again kicked in. I needed a moment to compose myself, the music and the starting cannons were fast adding to my nerves. I was heading to the swim start when one of my Triathlete girls from my local club, turned to me hugged me and said, “Believe in your training, you can do this.” Those words bounced around my head in my dark moments. I could believe in my training. I had banked those hours and miles and I knew I had trained hard.

I exited the swim down on time by about 5 mins from what I was hoping. I didn’t panic I just got out my wet suit, did my T1 business and cracked on. Only rookie mistake I made running with my bikes shoes all the way to the mount line before stopping and putting them whilst holding my bike with one hand! Face palm moment right there!!

The bike was enjoyable I knew what I needed to do and executed this well. It was a busy course and you needed power surges to move around and out of peoples draft zones or run the risk of being penalised or disqualified.

The most magical moment was climbing Sollar Hill. That was breath-taking. I had goosebumps and felt a wave of emotions hit me as all these people are screaming at you to keep going. I felt like a pro cyclist!

Before I knew it, I was heading towards T2 and run time was about to commence. It was like running in a furnace, the heat level had increased. I stuck to the HR plan; I knew what I needed to be doing. In my head at this time, I was only focusing on the job in hand, I was yet to work out how much I was ahead of my sub 12 hour time goal. I needed to focus on my run cadence, my fuel, water intake and my HR.

Whilst running I was desperate for shade. Running along the canal path the heat was bouncing back from the white gravel on the floor. I settled in running behind a German guy, focusing on his cadence, the sound of our feet hitting the floor was rhythmical and kept my mind focused. This and the focus of having a gel at regular mile markers allowed me to break down the distance.

I just kept running and running, I looked at my time at ½ way knowing if I could maintain this, I would get my time goal. I wouldn’t quit. The hills towards the end came and went and I was still running. I began to believe I could actually do this!

The last 3kms came, people in the village were screaming and shouting. I can remember looking at my watch feeling disorientated. I stopped (briefly) thinking how much further (even though I could see on my watch less than a mile). I didn’t trust my surroundings, what people were saying, or my watch! I started desperately wanting to see the stadium, finally I turned the corner and there was that green carpet. I was home, I could almost stop!

I then heard my husband yelling “Go Penno, yessssss you have done it” still didn’t register my time that much.

I went under the finish line! I HAD DONE IT…….SUB 12…..11:17:08

I had finally achieved it, the sub 12 goal was achieved! What a hard-fought race! I had done it!

Official results put me top 10th female in my age category (out of 75…in case you thought there was only 10!) I had also secured an invite to the Championship race 2024.

I can qualify for the GB age group team both World and Europeans.

So my message to all of you…..never give up, work hard towards those goals. If you don’t do it first time just keep moving forwards and you will be able to get there and achieve your dreams!

I can’t thank everyone around me enough for all their hard work, support and belief in me!

Jennie at Roth Challenge finish line

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