Jan Frodeno’s recipe for running the best IRONMAN World Championship race on record was simple, if not a little counterintuitive: Keep his foot off the gas.
“I made a pact with myself not to lead any group,” Frodeno said after the race.
But by the end, he led the pack.
Frodeno made his move on Queen Ka‘ahuman Highway, roughly 90 miles into the course, when he passed American and the eventual second-place finisher, Tim O‘Donnell. Frodeno was out in front the rest of the way — to the finish line, to his third world title and to the best race ever recorded by a triathlete in Kailua-Kona.
His time of 7:51:13 was good enough to best O‘Donnell by more than 8 minutes while providing a roughly minute-and-a-half cushion against the former course record, set by fellow German Patrick Lange in 2018.
Between them, Lange and Frodeno have won the last five IRONMAN World Championships.
Lange bowed out of the race Saturday a little over 30 miles in. Information released by IRONMAN on Facebook and its official race blog Saturday indicated that Lange’s decision was related to a fever he developed Friday night.
Frodeno missed 2018 with a stress fracture in his hip and was forced to watch as Lange swam, biked and ran into the history books. At the 2019 VEGA IRONMAN World Championship, the script was flipped exactly — and those history books were rewritten.
When asked if it bothered him crossing the finish line with Lange on the sidelines, Frodeno was blunt.
“Most definitely not,” he said. “Honestly, I don’t give a s***.”
“In my 18 years as a pro, this is the day,” he said. “This is the day I’ve been looking for.”
O‘Donnell, who finished fourth last year, also battled injuries to get to the podium. Cracked ribs slowed the American early in the season, and an injury to his foot only a couple of weeks ago nearly kept him out of the race.
The injury changed his perspective and his approach, which he said Saturday may have changed his outcome.
“Thinking I wasn’t going to be able to race, it just kind of changed my perspective on how fortunate we are to be here,” O’Donnell said.
With his victory, Frodeno became the fourth man in history to win three IRONMAN World Championships.
He’s also the only triathlete to own Olympic Gold, an IRONMAN World Championship and an IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship.
Top ten professional men’s results:
|1. Jan Frodeno||DEU||00:47:31||04:16:03||02:42:43||07:51:13*|
|2. Tim O’Donnell||USA||00:47:38||04:18:11||02:49:45||07:59:41|
|3. Sebastian Kienle||DEU||00:52:17||04:15:05||02:49:57||08:02:04|
|4. Ben Hoffman||USA||00:51:01||04:24:01||02:43:08||08:02:52|
|5. Cameron Wurf||AUS||00:52:25||04:14:45||02:55:03||08:06:41|
A course photo gallery and a finish line/podium photo gallery are each available on BigIslandNow.com.
Running to victory
Anne Haug entered the marathon course Saturday more than 8 minutes behind leader Lucy Charles-Barclay. By the time she crossed the finish line as the VEGA IRONMAN World Champion, Haug was more than 6 and a half minutes ahead.
“The whole run felt pretty amazing,” she said. “I just concentrated on myself and tried not to over pace. It worked pretty well.”
Haug’s time of 8:40:10 was good enough for her first title after finishing third last year. It also completed a German sweep at the top of the podium in the men’s and women’s professional divisions.
Charles-Barclay, who led the race after the swim and the bike, finished second for the second consecutive year. Struggling on the run, she was passed for a time by the eventual third-place winner, Sarah Crowley, of Australia.
Charles-Barclay’s husband made her aware of this on the track, which she said caused her to kick her pace up another gear, reclaim second position and run herself into the medical tent. Charles-Barclay was noticeably limping at the post-race press conference.
“Today was about rolling the dice and seeing what happened,” she said. “I felt like the island was tough on me, but I’m super proud to get second.”
Heather Jackson was the only American to find her way into the women’s top 5. But after a year of doubt following a disappointing 2018 performance, she was all smiles Saturday.
“I’m just stoked to be back here after a rough one last year,” Jackson said.
Top ten professional women’s results:
|1. Anne Haug||DEU||00:54:09||04:50:18||02:51:07||08:40:10|
|2. Lucy Charles-Barclay||GBR||00:49:02||04:47:21||03:06:00||08:46:44|
|3. Sarah Crowley||AUS||00:54:05||04:50:13||02:59:20||08:48:13|
|4. Laura Philipp||DEU||00:59:03||04:45:04||03:02:12||08:51:42|
|5. Heather Jackson||USA||00:59:12||04:46:46||03:04:17||08:54:44|