JAn Frodeno stormed to a record victory, just under an hour later Anne Haug crowned the most successful day in German Ironman history: The duo fought for the world title for men and women and in Hawaii for the first black, red and gold Double punch taken care of. While top favorite Frodeno was the first German to win the most important race on the scene for the third time, Haug was the first ever German winner.
Frodeno, who had already triumphed in 2015 and 2016, mastered the 3.8 kilometers of swimming, 180 kilometers of cycling and 42.195 kilometers of running in 7:51:13 hours – faster than anyone before him in the triathlon Mecca. The 38-year-old won on Saturday ahead of Tim O’Donnell (United States / + 8: 26 minutes) and Sebastian Kienle (Mühlacker / + 10: 51 minutes).
Haug’s furious catch-up was at least as impressive. At her second start in Hawaii, the 36-year-old Franconian was more than eight minutes behind the British Lucy Charles-Barclay at the start of the marathon, who was overtaken after 25 kilometers. Haug reached the finish line after 8:40:10 hours. “That’s fantastic, I can hardly believe it myself,” said Haug, who, like Frodeno, is trained by Dan Lorang. In 2004, Nina Kraft initially won in Hawaii, but her victory was revoked because of doping.
Was that the starting signal for a similar success story for women as for men? Since 2014 only German men have won in Hawaii. Kienle had started the series, then Frodeno and Patrick Lange, who retired from cycling this year, triumphed twice each.
“I think it was the day I was looking for my career,” Frodeno told ARD. With tears in her eyes, Emma was the first wife to hug the champion at the finish on Ali’i Drive. “It’s Wimbledon in our sport. It’s the greatest feeling, ”said Frodeno. “I am very grateful that I was able to experience and accomplish that again.”
It stayed well over a minute below the course record that Lange had set in 7:52:39 hours just a year ago. With a shout of joy and the target tape in his clenched hands, Frodeno celebrated his third Hawaii victory after 2015 and 2016.
Double champion Lange (2017 and 2018), on the other hand, experienced a day to forget after an already moderate season and a difficult time in Hawaii – before the race he and his wife had crashed while cycling, and his trainer had not received an American visa. On the night of Saturday he had a slight fever, but decided to start.
Over for defending champion Lange
In the early morning before the start of the race at 6:25 a.m. (local time) everything seemed fine again. After a dazzling swim, in which Lange was surprisingly able to assert himself in the top group with Frodeno, he fell behind on the bike course. After around 70 kilometers, he suddenly braked and pulled over to the right. Lange writhed over his handlebars. He rolled a few more meters on the hard shoulder, then got off the bike. Nothing worked.
“He suddenly felt dizzy and black. If you blackout for two or three seconds, it’s dangerous. There is no longer any option, ”explained Lange’s manager Jan Sibbersen in the Hessischer Rundfunk.
What was to be the next highlight for Lange after third place in his Hawaii debut in 2016 and his two victories in 2017 and 2018 turned out to be an absolute low. “The disappointment is great, it will take a while. There is only one day when everything is important, and if it doesn’t work that day, you have to wait another 364 days, ”said Sibbersen.
Proven exceptional position
In contrast, three years and four days after his victory in 2016, Frodeno quenched his longing for the third title. After he was affected by an injury in the race in 2017 and was only a viewer and TV expert in Hawaii last year due to a stress fracture in his hip, he has now proven his exceptional position again. After his usual strong swimming, he rode in a small group of leaders on the bike course. He increased the pace about 20, 30 kilometers before switching to the running track. Nobody came with me.
After thick clouds and light rain had ensured a climatically tolerable start, the sun was now down from an almost bright blue sky. The temperature rose to more than 30 degrees, the humidity was high.
Frodeno didn’t seem to care. Unusually with a cap instead of his beloved headband, he ran off – with a lead of over two minutes over the first pursuer and over three minutes over buddy Kienle, who was fifth at the time. The prospect of being able to undercut Lange’s record continued to drive Frodeno. He set a good pace and he kept it up.
Two years after Frodeno was thwarted as defending champion by a back injury and dethroned by Lange, the hoped-for marathon duel with the running miracle from Hessen ended prematurely. When he crossed the finish line, Lange was deeply sad and extremely disappointed when he returned to his accommodation on the Big Island – together with his wife, whom he proposed to marry a year ago after setting the course record at the finish.