Germany’s triathlon superstar caps off a sensational season with the race of a lifetime.
The 2015 IRONMAN World Championship commenced with a bang on what would turn out to be a hotter than usual Hawaiian day in Kailua-Kona. At 6:25 am the pro men were the first to break the peaceful calm of the waters of Kailua Bay and immediately split in two. The first was led out by New Zealand’s Dylan McNeice, Germany’s Jan Frodeno, and American Andy Potts. The other group included pre-race favorites Sebastian Kienle (DEU) (who swam markedly stronger than in years past) Tim Don (GBR), Andreas Raelert (DEU), Tim O’Donnell (USA)and Frederick Van Lierde (BEL).
After about 400 meters, the groups merged into one, and by the turnaround the leaders had put a minute into the chase group. McNeice exited out of the water first in 50:48, but Potts passed him in T1 and hit the bike course first.
Frodeno took control of the race at the beginning of the bike, storming to the front of the race on the unusually windless Queen K highway. Kienle and Ben Hoffman both took turns leading a group containing Frodeno, Potts, Andreas Böcherer, Van Lierde, Romaine Guillame, Luke McKenzie, O’Donnell and Tyler Butterfield to Hawi, where the winds really started to pick up.
After the turnaround, O’Donnell boldly took the lead for the descent from Hawi, where he’d remain until 90 miles before Frodeno went to the front and did not look back. Into T2, Frodeno carried a 30-second advantage over O’Donnell, who rode 4:26:13, and a 50-second lead over Kienle, who rode a 4:25:52 for the second-fastest bike of the day.
Out of the gate, 2008 Olympic gold medalist Frodeno started to put time into the rest of the field. Raelert used a second-best 2:50:02 run to move up from 12th place off the bike, overtaking consistent Kona performers like Eneko Llanos, Van Lierde and Hoffman. At 23 miles, Raelert passed O’Donnell, and the American could not match his charge.
Frodeno maintained his position, struggling briefly from the heat in the later miles of the run but ultimately taking the win by three minutes in a time of 8:14:40.
“I’m sorry to take it from an American again,” Frodeno said at the finish line. “I’m glad Tim did not have any garlic last night, he was breathing down my neck. I am just over the world.”
Raelert’s marked improvement over the past few years landed him a repeat of his runner-up performance from 2012. O’Donnell, under his new coach Mark Allen, topped his 2013 fifth-place finish.
“She’s carried the weight enough for the last couple years,” O’Donnell said about wife Mirinda Carfrae’s DNF. “We share each other’s ups and downs. Hopefully, we’ll come out here next year Both guns blazing.”
Potts remained consistent all day, including besting O’Donnell’s run split, to match his fourth-place position from last year. This made for a record American finish in the top 10. Bermuda’s Tyler Butterfield, also an Olympian, rounded out the top five.
Top 10 Pro Men
by Jennifer Ward Barber, from http://www.ironman.com • Photo courtesy of ASICS.