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Germany’s Jan Frodeno—the 2008 Olympic gold medalist—added the title of Ironman 70.3 world champion to his résumé, while Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf continued her rise to the top of long-course raising by winning her second-straight 70.3 world crown.
It was a tough day of racing in Zell am See, Austria, as competitors started the event at 10:45 a.m. local time, putting them onto the run course during the hottest part of the day. This marks the first time that Europe has hosted the Ironman 70.3 World Championship, as Ironman announced back in 2013 that going forward the race would rotate around the world to a new location each year. Ultimately it was two Europeans—and two athletes who are considered among the favorites to take the Ironman World Championship titles in October—who walked away with the titles.
The race got off to a competitive start, with about 20 athletes exiting Lake Zell within 30 seconds of each other. Germany’s Andi Böcherer was officially the first man to finish the swim at 22:12, with defending champion Javier Gomez (ESP), Frodeno and two-time 70.3 world champion Michael Raelert as the closest pursuers. Several contenders, including Ruedi Wild (SUI), Sam Appleton (AUS), Nils Frommohld (GER), Tim Don (GBR) and Terenzo Bozzone (NZL), were also part of that first group before the attention turned to how much of a deficit reigning Ironman world champion—and two-time world champion at this distance—Sebastian Kienle (GER) would have to start the bike. Kienle emerged at 24:04 with some work to do.
Once onto the bike, the strength of the Germans was evident as Böcherer, Frodeno, Dreitz, Raelert and Frommhold led the efforts on the breathtaking bike course. Ultimately it was Dreitz who pushed up to the front of the race and built a gap to the rest of the field. At the 59K mark (mile 36), Dreitz held a lead of 38 seconds over Böcherer, 1:26 over Frodeno and about 2:40 over Raelert, Frommhold, Italy’s Jonathan Ciavattella and Gomez. Great Britain’s Tim Don—a favorite coming into the race—had a tough bike ride with a flat tire and a penalty, taking him out of contention. Up ahead, Dreitz maintained his strength to T2, earning a 45-second lead over Frodeno to start the run. Böcherer was next, with Kienle riding his way up to fourth start the run.
As the day continued to heat up, Frodeno found the front of the race early on the run and never looked back. His 1:16:32 run split was enough to give him his first Ironman 70.3 World Championship title in 3:51:19.
“It was sensational, but I’m totally done,” Frodeno told Ironman.com at the finish line. “It was one of my toughest races. The atmosphere was sensational on the course. It seemed to be that I heard my name 1000 times per lap, which pushed me a lot. I had to fight all day, there was no moment when it just flowed.”
Kienle was impressive on the run, posting a 1:15:22 split to claim the runner-up spot. Gomez, who won last weekend’s ITU World Triathlon Stockholm race and then spent a few days sick in bed, rounded out his day with a 1:15:35 run split to earn third. Belgium’s Bart Aernouts out-sprinted Raelert at the finish line for fourth. Notably, four of the top five athletes across the finish line have been named Ironman 70.3 world champion at some point in their careers.
American Lauren Brandon was impressive on the swim, leading the women out of the water with a 22:53 split—the fastest swim ever posted by a women at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships. Radka Vodickova (CZE) was second at 28 seconds back, with Ryf in third at 53 seconds back. A big group of strong podium contenders, including Alicia Kaye (USA), Jodie Swallow (GBR), Meredith Kessler (USA) and Magali Tisseyre (CAN), exited the water between the 24- and 25-minute mark. Last year’s third-place finisher Heather Wurtele (CAN) was 17th out of the water at 26:33.
Once on the bike, Ryf made quick work of the deficit to those in front of her. With Ryf comfortably in the lead, the battle for positioning behind her was heating up. Germany’s Anja Beranek put herself solidly into second, with Kaye, Kessler and Tisseyre shuffling in the third through fifth positions. Ryf’s dominant 2:21:10 bike performance earned her a monstrous lead to start the half-marathon. Barenek was second into T2 (4:10 back), with Tisseyre (8:05 back), Kaye (8:21 back) and Wurtele (9:28 back) following.
Ryf carried the momentum from her strong swim and bike onto the run and built her lead with every step. Her 1:22:51 run split was the fastest for the women, giving her the second-straight Ironman 70.3 world title at 4:11:34.
“It was my goal today to show my best, and I did it,” Ryf told Ironman.com. “I felt very comfortable on the bike, though the race overall was very hard. I went into the run with an advantage but I hit my limit. To defend this title means a lot to me.”
Behind Ryf, Wurtele was the big mover. She used a 1:24:56 half-marathon to run from fifth off of the bike to second at the finish line in 4:23:07—more than 11 minutes back of Ryf. Beranek backed up her strong bike performance with an equally solid run to give her the final podium spot. Tisseyre was in the mix most of the day and ultimately finished in fourth. Kaye earned fifth and was the only American—male or female—to break into the top five.
2015 Ironman 70.3 World Championships
Zell am See-Kaprun Salzburgerland, Austria – Aug. 30, 2015
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run
1. Jan Frodeno (GER) 3:51:19
2. Sebastian Kienle (GER) 3:52:48
3. Javier Gomez (ESP) 3:55:05
4. Bart Aernouts (BEL) 3:56:28
5. Michael Raelert (GER) 3:56:34
1. Daniela Ryf (SUI) 4:11:34
2. Heather Wurtele (CAN) 4:23:07
3. Anja Beranek (GER) 4:24:10
4. Magali Tisseyre (CAN) 4:25:33
5. Alicia Kaye (CAN) 4:27:39