KAILUA-KONA — It was the perfect day for Jan Frodeno.
The German triathlete started the Ironman World Championship on Saturday just happy to be participating after sitting out 2018 due to a foot injury.
He ended the race with his third win and the new race record.
“It was really, really unique,” Frodeno said. “Because, in my 18 years of being a pro, I think this was the day I’ve been looking for.”
Frodeno won the 2019 Ironman World Championship on Saturday with a record time of 7 hours, 51 minutes, and 13 seconds. Frodeno, who previously won the race in 2015 and 2016, beat his fellow countryman Patrick Lange’s record of 07:52:39, set in 2018.
Frodeno said while the record was in the back of his mind during the 26.2-mile run, just being in the race was enough of a win for him.
“It’s a mixture of being anxious to try and set a mark like that and, at the same time, I really did have moments of gratitude where I was in this race and realized last year, I was standing here and how much it just sucked to be on the sideline,” Frodeno said.
Frodeno was followed by Tim O’Donnell of the United States, with a time of 07:59:40; Sebastian Kienle of Germany, with a time of 08:02:04; Ben Hoffman of the United States with a time of 08:02:52; and Cameron Wurf of Australia, with a time of 08:06:41.
Defending champion Lange pulled himself out of the race during the 112-mile bike due to illness.
“Our sport gets so judged on this race. You can have a fantastic year, and if you don’t do well at this race, you’ve instantly had a bad season,” Frodeno said. “I’d be lying if I didn’t say I had doubts (about winning).”
It was a double victory for Germany this year, with women’s champion Anne Haug winning for the first time in her triathlon career in 08:40:10. She unseated Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf, who had won the last four Ironman World Championships.
Haug said her good finish came as a surprise even to her.
“I tried to give it the very best I could, and I knew, if I was lucky enough, I could pull out a good marathon,” Haug said. “I was really surprised about my 02:51:07.”
Following Haug were Great Britain’s Lucy Charles-Barclay with a time of 08:46:44; Australia’s Sarah Crowley with a time of 08:48:13; Germany’s Laura Philipp with a time of 08:51:42; and the United States’ Heather Jackson with a time of 08:54:44.
Defending women’s champion Ryf finished 13th with a time of 09:14:26. Ryf set the course record for women in 2018 with 08:26:18.
Second-place finisher Charles-Barclay said her leg cramped up during the marathon portion of the race, but she had extra motivation to run through the pain and finish second, thanks to her husband and coach, Reece Barclay.
“Reece did promise that if I won, we would get two dogs, but if I came second, we would get one dog. If I came in third, no dog” Charles-Barclay said. “So it was all for the dog.”
The men’s second-place finisher O’Donnell said it was a string of injuries this past year, including a broken foot, that was his motivation for making it to the finish line.
“Thinking I wasn’t going to be able to race, it just kind of changed my perspective on how fortunate we all are to be here,” O’Donnell said.
All the top finishers agreed that the day belonged to Frodeno, with Hoffman calling the win an “absolutely insane, world-class performance.”
“I actually said when I saw you on Alii Drive: ‘Break the record,’” Wurf said to Frodeno during the post-race press conference. “That was what I was yelling at you.”
Not that beating Lange’s record matters to Frodeno.
“I’m a happy guy and, honestly, I don’t give a [expletive].”