Germany’s Jan Frodeno defended his Ironman World Championship title today, turning in a 48:02 swim, a 4:29:00 bike and a 2:45:34 marathon to earn his second-straight Kona victory in 8:06:30. With the win, Frodeno becomes the 10th male to win more than one Ironman World Championship in his career and the fifth male to successfully defend the world title. The last athlete to successfully defend was Craig Alexander (AUS) in 2009. Behind Frodeno, fellow German Sebastian Kienle was strong all day but had to settle for second. Patrick Lange made it an all-German podium in impressive fashion, breaking the 27-year-old run course record along the way.
Jan Frodeno pushed the pace out front in the early meters of the swim, but several athletes were able to stay with him, making for a fairly large lead group coming into T1. Great Britain’s Harry Wiltshire was the first man out of the water at 48:00, leading a group of 12 made up of Andy Potts (USA), Paul Matthews (AUS), Marko Albert (EST), Denis Chevrot (FRA), Brent McMahon (CAN), David McMamee (GBR), Igor Amorelli (BRA), Andi Boecherer (GER), Tim O’Donnell (USA) and Tim Don (GBR). A second large group exited the water about 30 seconds later and contained several contenders including Terenzo Bozzone (NZL), Andreas Raelert (GER), Frederik Van Lierde (BEL), Ben Hoffman (USA) and Timothy Van Berkel (AUS). With the majority of athletes through T1, the attention turned to when 2014 champion Sebastian Kienle (GER) would make his way up the stairs, to his bike and onto the course. Kienle was 38th out of the water at 52:27, putting him 4:27 down from the leaders—a gap similar to when he won in 2014.
As that large front group took to the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway, Kienle, Austria’s Michael Weiss and Canada’s Lionel Sanders were the fast movers trying to find those leaders. The size of that group made for dangerous conditions in terms of avoiding drafting penalties. At the first penalty tent, Van Lierde, Raelert, McMahon and Patrick Lange (GER) all had to serve penalties—taking them out of contention on the bike.
At Kawaihae (mile 42.7) before the climb up to Hawi, super biker Weiss was riding out front with Potts, Boecherer, Frodeno, O’Donnell and a huge group, that now included Kienle, trailing not far behind. German Boris Stein took a turn out front, but Weiss didn’t let that last as he found his way back to the lead.
The turn at Hawi is traditionally when the race breaks apart and that’s exactly what happened. Kienle was first at the turn with Boecherer, Weiss, O’Donnell, McKenzie, Potts, Frodeno, Hoffman, Van Berkel and Stein all in a close chase. At mile 75, the lead group continued to dwindle and now stood at 12 athletes, with all of the main contenders still in the mix.
The leader changed several times on the way back to town. Though Kienle was first into T2, Frodeno had the fastest change and started the marathon out front. Behind him were Kienle (4 seconds back), McKenzie (13 seconds back), Hoffman (19 seconds back), O’Donnell (25 seconds back) and Stein (41 seconds back). With all of the other athletes more than 3 minutes back it became clear that the winner would come from this group of eight.
Once onto the marathon, Frodeno maintained his lead with only Kienle able to keep the same pace. The two ran together for a good chunk of the early miles—leaving many to hope that we’d see the next version of Iron War. The shoulder-to-shoulder battle didn’t come to fruition as Frodeno slowly started to break Kienle. By mile 16 Frodeno’s lead stood at 2:34 over Kienle, 6:03 over Hoffman, 6:32 over Boecherer and 6:55 over O’Donnell. The big mover throughout the marathon was Lange, who had worked his way up to sixth position at 9:15 back of Frodeno.
Frodeno stayed strong all the way to the finish line, using a 2:45:34 marathon to cross the finish line in 8:06:30. Kienle capped off his day with a 2:49:03 marathon to finish in third at 8:10:02. Lange worked his way through the field all day, running from 23rd off of the bike to third at the finish line—posting a 2:39:45 marathon to break the 27-year-old course record of 2:40:04 that Mark Allen set in 1989 (from the famous Iron War).
The only other time Germany has swept the podium was in 1997 when Thomas Hellriegel won, with Jürgen Zäck and Lothar Leder claiming the other podium spots.
2016 Ironman World Championship
Oct. 8, 2016 – Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run
1. Jan Frodeno (GER) 8:06:30
2. Sebastian Kienle (GER) 8:10:02
3. Patrick Lange (GER) 8:11:14
4. Ben Hoffman (USA) 8:13:00
5. Andi Boecherer (GER) 8:13:25
6. Tim O’Donnell (USA) 8:16:20
7. Boris Stein (GER) 8:16:56
8. Bart Aernouts (BEL) 8:20:30
9. Ivan Rana (ESP) 8:21:51
10. Frederik Van Lierde (BEL) 8:21:59