My Triathlon4Africa 2013

Brief and concise..

  1. My race: went well – but with small obstacles
  2. My result: FINISHED! – time: 1:36:05 – but crossing the finish line 11 minutes later than my personal goal time
  3. My conclusion: an overwhelming experience – without any BUT! – and more than 15.000 Euros for Africa!

Detailed and with pictures …
1. The race

I started together with Reiner Straßheim from ERF, my brother and a good friend on Saturday at 10:32am in the Alster. The other five triathletes4Africa had either been starting earlier in the morning (Tobias, Christoph and Mathias) or were to start on Sunday morning (Hanna and Manuel).

bild-1  Foto:private

500 m swimming:

In a group with 150 other athletes we had to swim towards a buoy 220 m away, around the bouy and through a tunnel to the exit, where photographers were waiting already for the more or less exhausted swimmers. In the beginning of the
swimming I was still pretty far ahead – perhaps I started together with some other athletes a bit too early. So it went really well the first few meters until I was out of breath and afterwards only able to keep on with a mixture of
breaststroke and crawl swimming.

After all, my swimming time was  half a minute better than last year, but still not really good. Nevertheless: I survived! – And this time even without a supportive wetsuit because the Alster had degrees of 24 ° C  this year (previous year: 17 °C!).


22 km cycling:

After swimming we were to run in the world’s longest triathlon transition Zone (700 m) towards the bike. The transition worked out well and quickly.

Although I was actually doing well from the beginning, I was overtaken already in the first half of both my brother and my friend – not only due to the better material of the two of them. By the way, Reiner Straßheim was there even before me, being the only one of our group who came out of the water before me – which really surprised me, especially after his very short and restless night with severe stomach problems.

After 11 kilometers of cycling it went towards the curve where half of the bike course was completed and we were to go the way back.


It was at this point when I heard a soft hissing, felt an uneasy front and saw  a flattening tube of the wheel. I had a flat tire!
Now I was left with two options, either giving up – as many would have done, how I found out later – or changing the tube all by myself in front of the audience – without any of them helping me, since help is forbidden in the competition. For me it was clear – giving up is no option, so I’ll have to change the tube. Changing a tube at the front wheel is actually quite simple – until you’ve to do it in a competitive situation under time pressure and in an already drained state and on top even hot summer temperatures. Now I took my benefits from what had cost me a great deal of nerves and sleep the night before:

During an evening bike check the valve in the front wheel had been torn out and at 22:30 in the night I still had to change the tube in the hotel room. It was my first tube change after about 30 years and I could only make it with instructions from an internet video – and even with this help it took me about 45 to 60 minutes. In the race it seemed like it had been taking ages to change the tube but in the end I finished the cycling part only nine minutes later than in the Triathlon4Africa last year. So this definitely was my personal world record in tube changing – and I afterwards was very grateful towards God for the rehearsal of tube changing the night before.

5 km running:

To run at high temperatures after cycling hit me really hard this time, despite the wonderful scenery of Hamburg which I actually could not really enjoy during the race.


There actually were moments when I was thinking about giving up  – but only very short moments. Then I struggled
from one supply point to the next one. Altogether there were three of them on the track where I could strengthen myself with water and other beverages. And eventually I really made out the finish line. Yes!


2. The result

I finished with a time of 1:36:05, as the last one of our group of four, but I FINISHED! So I missed my personal desired target time of 1:25:00 by eleven minutes.

bild-6Foto: private

3.  My Resume

To me it was important to reach the finish line at the worldwide biggest triathlon in Hamburg. However, what made the achievement of the target so precious and exceptional was the walking together with others towards the goal.
The best words to describe what has stuck with me and accompanied me ever since are the two words “encouragement” and “thank”. Encouragement through many pleasant and motivating words, through prayers from friends in Europe, Africa, Asia, North and South America, through great donations of large and small donors, by joining the Triahtlon4Africa project. Encouragement coming in various creative and personal ways from all over the world. By a friend from the Philippines, a friend from South Africa, a friend from India, a colleague from Chile, many American friends, from Project-Hannah women praying in the whole world. Including even a poem from our TWR Partner office in Vienna:


… with a corresponding video:

Each single small or great encouragement had a huge motivating impact on me and the other triathletes for Africa. Along with the strong support by our families, friends and colleagues of the ERF – as expressed e.g. with this cartoon:


This worldwide personal sympathy and supportive companionship of our Triathlon4Africa has deeply touched me and made me grateful. It was worth it just for that 🙂

Thanks to the great donation commitments we’ll likely be able to pass on more than 15.000 Euro to the three projects in Africa. A real blessing to the People in Africa!

THANKS to each of you who joined to turn this triathlon into something very special, something what was only possible together and with Gods help and means doing good to many people in Africa.

My greatest thanks belongs to God who made all of this possible. Who made me even able to participate in a triathlon. And who took care that none of the seven Triathlon4Africa experienced any dramatic accidents – although among other things a friend fall off his bike. Who made us able to pass on a bit of hope and precise help to people in Africa – by “torturing ourselves” only a little in Hamburg. And who moved so many people from around the world to encourage and support us. THANK GOD for that!

And what is coming up for the Triathlon4Africa project?
After the triathlon is before the triathlon. I recommend anyone who needs a little encouragement to register already for the Triathlon4Africa 2014. No matter what your finish time will be in the end, the way to the state “finished” is just worth it – in any case.
If you are interested in how this can actually look like just send an e-mail to international(at) There are some participants joining the Triathlon4Africa 2014 already. Are you one of them? I would be happy – for you and 4 Africa. 🙂

More information on the Triathlon4Africa for anyone interested:

See you in ….

bild-10Foto: private

With cordially athletic regards,

It has been a pleasure to be with you along the road 4 Africa!


PS: I owe all photos except the cartoon and the photos marked as private to

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