This is not a day for late risers.

At least not if they want to show what performance they are capable of at the eleventh Frankfurt City Triathlon.

Because if you want to take part in the most demanding of the four categories of the competition, the so-called middle distance, you have to get up early: the parking lot at Langener Waldsee will open at 5 a.m. on this Sunday morning.

Support from Northern Germany

The most ardent of the athletes have already arrived at this point. Some came on their bikes, others, who had to travel from further afield, formed car pools. Of the total of almost 2500 registrations for the city triathlon, around 1000 athletes were in the middle distance alone. There are now only two kilometers of swimming in front of them, then 80 kilometers of cycling and finally 20 kilometers of running. Little by little they gather at the lake for the first stage of their competition. Spectators - unlike in the past - did not come, they have to stay away from the start of the competition because of the pandemic.

Well before sunrise, long before the first athletes arrive, the Frankfurt Water Rescue and the German Life Rescue Society (DLRG) took up canoes and lifeboats on the bank. The Johanniter ambulances arrive a little later. “The first colleagues arrived at a quarter to four,” reports head of operations Philip Arnold from the water rescue service. About 50 lifesavers are ready to secure the lake for the swimmers. Almost half of them come from northern Germany. The Hessian sections of the water rescue service and the DLRG “could not have met” the personnel requirements for the triathlon alone, says Arnold.

For him it is already the tenth time he has competed in the city triathlon - and the first as a head of operations. “I slept very badly last night,” he admits, because of the many imponderables that such a major event entails. But his concern is unfounded. The swimming competition went off without any difficulties. Only one of the boats breaks down due to an oil leak, but a replacement boat is quickly found.

At six o'clock sharp, Joachim Seelhof, better known as DJ Bob among the long-time participants of the triathlon, takes the floor: “At the end of the day, we also count the swimming caps,” he calls in a good mood into the microphone.

Jürgen Kleinkauf from the DLRG-Langen adds: "And we hope that there won't be a bike left." Then the classics of rock history will be played.

Ergün Uymaz and Jessica Bieske are among the athletes awaiting the starting shot on the meadow.

The two sports fans have come from Koblenz.

"For us this is the first middle distance," reports the young woman.

"At the finish, tears will definitely flow," says Uymaz.

“Tears of joy,” adds Bieske.

Two kilometers through the lake in 23 minutes

A little later, the starting shot is given for the first 100 triathletes, after which three athletes jump into the water every five seconds. The best swimmer gets out of the lake after just 23 minutes. Nobody follows him for minutes. “Machine!” And “Where did you leave the others?” Is called out to him in appreciation. Only then do the other athletes gradually come to the bank, run up to the changing rooms, pick up their bikes and finally sprint over federal highway 44 towards the metropolis on the Main.

At the Untermainkai in Frankfurt, Pia and Axel Godoy are waiting for their 22-year-old son Matthias.

He is studying in Vienna and trained for this day for a year and a half, as the parents proudly report.

You came from Bonn that morning.

"That's what you do for the first triathlon as a child," says Pia Godoy, laughs and then cheers on the cyclists speeding by with her oversized cardboard gloves.

By noon the place at the Hauptwache was also filled.

For many athletes, the triathlon has already ended at this point.

They stand in the target area, talk to friends and acquaintances and supply their exhausted bodies with vitamins and nutrients.

Handstand on target

Sports director Markus Frank (CDU) is also on the home stretch. Together with Annette Albers, the managing director of Eventpower, the organizer of the city triathlon, he welcomes the athletes who are still arriving. “This is a great success for the sports city of Frankfurt,” says the city council enthusiastically. He does not expect an increase in the number of infections due to the event, he adds. After all, the security concept worked well, and the federal government's measures against the pandemic were having an effect. "I am confident," says Frank, while a freshly trained triathlete quickly does a handstand for the enthusiastic audience.