Preview of the 30th Powerman Zofingen (August 31 to September 2, 2018)
Anniversary, new track, top athletes and world record attempt
The 30th Powerman Zofingen will be fireworks. On the one hand, there is the 30th birthday with various anniversary activities. On the other hand, the World Championship race on 2 September will feature a new running and cycling track. The three laps now also lead through the city centre, as does the new bike course. Due to the new licensing practice in the Canton of Lucerne, 90 percent of the vehicles are now operated in the Canton of Aargau. The new bike course has first a fast, flat “15 km loop west” and then a very couped and demanding “35 km loop east”. For men it should be the strongest race of all times in terms of registrations, for women one thing in particular is announced – excitement. Freddy Nock should complete three marathons at once. The world-famous 53-year-old high-wire artist from Uerkheim starts a 25-hour world record attempt on the death wheel on September 1 at 12 noon, right next to the Powerman Arena.
On September 2, 2018 the ITU Powerman Long Distance Duathlon World Championships will again be held in Zofingen. The fact that the ITU (International Triathlon Union) and the IPA (International Powerman Association) are now awarding these to Zofingen for the eleventh time after 1997, 1998, 1999, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, and for the eighth time in a row, is unique for triathlon and duathlon. A new challenge awaits the athletes from around 40 participating nations. The bike course will be new and even more challenging. In addition, both the cycling and running routes pass through the picturesque city centre of Zofingen for the first time.
New licensing practice
The change in route was triggered by the new licensing practice of the Lucerne police. “Their obligation to allow a race only with a complete track closure has not produced a track worthy of the World Championship in the space of the previous track”, regrets Stefan Ruf, OC President of Powerman Zofingen. All variants had to be discarded, so that in spring the OC had to abandon the previous course, which had been run since the 3rd edition in 1991. “Thanks to the support of the Aargau authorities, however, a new bike course worthy of the World Cup can now be offered by a large majority through the Canton of Aargau. The character of the track remains unchanged, 50 kilometres per lap with almost exactly the same difference in altitude of 650 m per lap as before. In the World Championship race, the lap leading from Zofingen first to the west will again be driven three times. While the Vordemwald section was the last part so far, it will now be used in exactly the opposite direction and the “loop” will bring a first small turning point before it goes back from Vordemwald via Rothrist to the Zofingen area in the direction of Mühlethal on the eastern part of the loop. Ruf: “This one was already partly used in 2006. The technical highlight will certainly be the climb via Reitnau and the Wiliberg exit before returning to Zofingen via Reiden”.
The relocation to Aargau, just in time for the 30-year event, offers the event, which is one of eight top sporting events in Aargau, many new opportunities. Ruf:”Important communities such as Rothrist or Schöftland are now part of the route. In addition to the Wiggertal, the Ürketal and Suhre valleys are now also being crossed. With Mühlethal and Reitnau-Wiliberg, two of the most beautiful crossings in the western part of the canton are crossed, thus also creating opportunities for new nests of atmosphere”. The OC is doing everything in its power to ensure optimal track safety and comprehensive information for local residents, so that the athletes are given an accident-free race and the local residents the least possible restrictions, and at the same time it would like to thank all the communities that are now being used for the first time and also the previous ones for their understanding and support.
Running course adapted
Due to the new bike course, the second running course can now also be run through the old town of Zofingen, as planned for some time. “For many years it was two laps and last year even four because of the storm damage, but now three laps are being run on a 5 km long turning point track”, says Ruf. After leaving the Powerman-Arena we first go to turning point 1 at Thutplatz and then again through the arena to turning point 2 on the Heitere. Back in the arena the first 10 of a total of 30 km are completed. “Only marginal changes have been made to the first run, which at 9.5 km is now 300 m longer than before, thanks to a new separate start zone. According to Ruf, the new routes also represent a new capital in the history of Powerman Zofingen. “We are pleased to be able to offer the participants from around 40 nations a route that remains very demanding and yet fast, thus maintaining and even improving the chances of winning the World Championship in the future.
For the men, the battle for the World Championship title will mean that the 30th Powerman Zofingen should bring with it the best-quality race of all time. Last year’s winner Maxim Kuzmin (RUS), Belgium’s Seppe Odeyn (2016 winner) and France’s Gaël Le Bellec (2015 and 2014 winners) are all World Champions of the past four years. They all have a clear goal:”Climb to the top of the podium at the 30th Powerman Zofingen!” However, the current world number one, 34-year-old Dane Søren Bystrup, also has this goal: “At the end of my elite career I finally want to win the World Championship title in Zofingen after finishing third four times! What’s more, thanks to Felix Köhler (GER) and Yannick Cadalen (FRA), all the World Championship medal winners of the last four years will be competing in Thutstadt. Only the Australian Matt Smith is missing from the top eight of the world rankings. Fabian Zehnder is the top-ranked Swiss in 8th place,”My goal for this year in Zofingen is also a place among the top eight, said the 31-year-old from Wädenswil. The Swiss duathlon national team coach Sami Götz sends Rolf Wermelinger, Marc Widmer, Jens Gossauer, Andreas Kälin, Ramon Krebs and Roberto Delorenzi from his squad along with Zehnder into the race. “In addition to a few experienced duathletes, there are also many new, so-called lateral entrants and also young athletes at the start who have great potential. I hope for a great competition atmosphere at the anniversary in Zofingen and many spectators at the side of the track”. And there is Ronnie Schildknecht, who is finally making his comeback after his long distance debut in 2002 (6th place) in Zofingen: “It would be nice to come home on September 2nd and celebrate a victory there”.
Schildknecht goes Zofingen
I am very pleased that Ronnie Schildknecht, Switzerland’s most successful long-distance athlete of recent years, is starting in Zofingen. As nine-time winner of the Ironman Zurich, he could achieve the 10th great victory in Switzerland with Zofingen.” Schildknecht will however face strong competition, led by the reigning European champion and world number one Bystrup. “The Dane, especially on the bike, should be one of the very few in the field who can stand up to Schildknecht.” Schildknecht starts, after a short recovery time, then also on October 13th at the Ironman Hawaii, the unofficial Triathlon World Championship.
Pooley’s launch at risk
“There’ll probably be a new world champion among women,” Ruf says. “It’s a pity Emma Pooley, who recently set new standards with four victories in series at the Powerman Zofingen, can’t start due to injury. However, the British woman, who lives in the canton of Zurich, will be in Zofingen on anyhow on the Powerman weekend, at best then as a VIP”. Pooley himself says: “Most likely I won’t be able to start on September 2nd. I haven’t been able to walk for two months because of an injury. I still can’t even jog easily without pain, despite a complete break from running. Of course this is very frustrating for me, even more, because I can’t try to defend my title in Zofingen. The Powerman Zofingen has been a highlight of my season for the last four years.” Ruf now expects a completely open race with good chances for the strong Swiss team, consisting of Nina Brenn (Vice World Champion 2016), Melanie Maurer (current Vice European Champion at the ETU Powerman Middle Distance European Championship in Vejl, Denmark), Nina Zoller, Maja Jacober (Powerman Zofingen Third 2008, 2007 and 2006), Daniela Schwarz, Martina Krähenbühl and Kathrin Saly-Graf. “Among the women, there are some very experienced long-distance duathletes at the start. I definitely trust Nina Brenn to win another medal after 2016,” says Sami Götz. The World Cup goal of the Swiss national duathlon team coach for men and women is. “At least one medal and a total of three top five places.” After last year’s tough battle for World Cup silver, they now want to stage this year’s duel for the World Cup crown: world number one and vice world champion Miriam Van Reijen (NED) and world number two, World Cup and European bronze medallist Katrin Esefeld (GER). Apart from Pooley, only the current European champion Sandrina Illes is not at the start in Zofingen. “The Powerman Zofingen is still too tough for me, but I would love to race it later in my career,” said the 31-year-old Austrian.
World record attempt by Freddy Nock
Freddy Nock is already setting his 24th world record attempt. The launch is scheduled for Powerman Zofingen Saturday, September 1, 2018, at 12 noon. “We will set up the death wheel with a diameter of 9 metres right next to the transition zone,” says the 53-year-old Uerkheimer. “After that, I want to walk in and on the death wheel for at least 24 hours, 25 hours at best, without interruption.” Nock: “You have to remember that you can never run straight because it is a wheel.” Especially the ankles are strained. The current world record holder is Nock himself, together with Joey Kelly. “As part of the charity programme “RTL Donation Marathon 2006″, together with the Kelly Family member, I spent the longest 24 hours on a death wheel,” says Nock. Nock had its first real crisis after 13 hours during the successful world record attempt on 23/24 November 2006. “I even wanted to quit, but then Joey Kelly gave me a wisdom for life.” Kelly managed to get Nock mentally fit again for the continuation of the world record attempt. “If you fall into a hole, it’s important that you survive the next five minutes, that you just keep going,” says Nock. During the successful world record, Nock had run more than 135 kilometres on more than 9,000 death wheel rotations, which corresponds to more than three marathons. If Nock had only one partner with Kelly twelve years ago, he will have several partners in Zofingen on September 1/2, 2018. “I would like to thank the IWTOA WingTsun Kung-Fu D.B. School Aarau, where my seven-year-old son Leo also trains. Nock and his followers are still training on and in the death wheel in the area of the company Senn AG in Oftringen. Nock already has seven entries in the Guinness World Records Book and 23 successful world record attempts. “I am 99 percent convinced that I will achieve my 24th world record and I am looking forward to it, especially as it will take place almost on my doorstep. Nock also knows the Powerman Zofingen Arena very well, as he has participated in the Powerman CHARITY in the last two years, but it only covered 5 kilometres and not more than 135 kilometres.
The Poweran Zofingen Week started on Monday, 27 August with two media conferences: First with that of world record holder Freddy Nock on the grounds of Senn AG in Oftringen, then with the official Powerman media conference in Zofingen town hall. On Friday, 31 August, the opening ceremony will take place in the Stadtsaal Zofingen with the traditional pasta party and the handing over of starting numbers to the top athletes. On September 1st the Info-Point opens at 9.30 a.m., the Powerman-Expo and the Velafrica stand (handing in old bikes) open at 10 a.m., Freddy Nock starts his world record attempt on the death wheel next to the Powerman Arena at 12.15 p.m. The Family Contest starts at 1 p.m. The start of the PowerKids races takes place at 4 p.m. The Powerman CHARITY starts at 5 p.m.30 o’clock the big anniversary celebration “30 years Powerman Zofingen” is launched, with the participation of the pop-classic tenor Patrick von Castelberg, the solo artist Franziska Wigger, ceremonial speeches of Zofingen’s mayor Hans-Ruedi Hottiger and Powerman Zofingen OC president Stefan Ruf and the invasion of nations. From 8 p.m. the 3rd Powerman Zofingen anniversary party with the Austrian party band Wirbelwind will take place in the Stadtsaal Zofingen. Admission on Saturday is free, as is admission on Sunday to the World Championship and short-distance races.
Last starting places
You can still register for the 30th Powerman Zofingen from 31 August to 2 September 2018. The entry portal for the long distance (women’s World Cup start on 2 September at 8 a.m., men’s start at 9 a.m.) was closed in mid-August, but you can still register for the short distance in the week before the competition if there are still starting places. You can still register for the Powerman CHARITY (new on Saturday and starting at 4 pm), the PowerKids races and the Family Contest.
Text: Raphael Galliker
1.) While the Russian Maxim Kuzmin can and wants to defend his World Championship title this year, the last four-time serial winner Emma Pooley is probably not at the start of the 30th Powerman Zofingen on September 2nd due to injury.
2.) The new 50-kilometre bike course leads through the heart of the city of Zofingen, across Thutplatz, where Natascha Badmann, six-time winner of the Ironman Hawaii and ambassador of Powerman Zofingen, awaits many spectators.
3.) Freddy Nock, the world-famous high-wire artist from Uerkheim, will start his 25-hour world record attempt on the death wheel on September 1, 2018, next to the Powerman Zofingen Arena.
Photos: Raphael Galliker