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Germany’s Jan Frodeno earned the first Ironman World Championship victory of his career, turning in a 50:50 swim, a 4:27:27 bike and a 2:52:21 marathon to take the win in 8:14:40. The German fulfilled the pre-race hype that placed him as the heavy favorite to cross the finish line first today. With the world title, the 34-year-old becomes the first athlete to claim both an Olympic gold medal—which he did in 2008—and the Hawaii Ironman victory. He also becomes the second male to win both the Ironman 70.3 World Championship and the Ironman World Championship in the same year—Australia’s Craig Alexander also did it in 2011. Behind Frodeno, fellow German Andreas Raelert turned in a career-comeback performance to finish second. American Timothy O’Donnell was the final podium finisher—his top Kona result to date. Read the women’s race report here.
In his rookie Kona appearance, New Zealand’s Dylan McNeice was the first the man out of Kailua Bay at 50:48, with last year’s swim leaders Frodeno and Andy Potts (USA) just a few seconds back. Ninety seconds later came a group of 30 athletes that contained many top names including O’Donnell and Raelert. The biggest story of the swim was defending champion Sebastian Kienle (GER), who was just a minute back from that large group.
Out on the bike, Frodeno made a quick break and earned a 30-second lead in the first eight miles. Frodeno was ultimately absorbed by other fast riders, making for a group of 17 men at the 32-mile mark at Waikoloa. That pack remained mostly together through the first half of the bike, with various athletes—including both Americans Ben Hoffman and O’Donnell—taking turns at the front. At the turnaround point in Hawi, O’Donnell held the top spot with Hoffman, Van Lierde, Kienle, Frodeno, Andi Boecherer (GER) and Tyler Butterfield (BER) all less than 10 seconds back.
As they made their way back from Hawi O’Donnell was able to open a gap, which he grew to one minute with 20 miles remaining in the bike leg. That advantage didn’t last as Frodeno and Kienle reeled him back in. The trio rode together for a bit before Frodeno decided to go for it.
By the time bike turned to run, Frodeno held a lead of 30 seconds over O’Donnell and 55 seconds over Kienle. Considering it was a relatively calm day out on the Queen K, the bike splits of the top men were fairly slow. Last year Kienle turned in a 4:20:46 bike split on his way to the win, and today the top three off the bike posted 4:27:27 (Frodeno), 4:26:13 (O’Donnell) and 4:25:53 (Kienle). Following that trio off of the bike were Spain’s Eneko Llanos (1:39 back), Van Lierde (1:59 back), Canada’s Brent McMahon (2:00 back) and Hoffman (3:05 back). Eventual podium finisher Raelert was 11th off of the bike at five minutes back of Frodeno.
Out on the run course, Frodeno started to grow his lead as he made his way out and back on Ali’i Drive. At the Ali’i turnaround (around the 5 mile mark) Frodeno’s advantage stood at 2:05 over O’Donnell, 3:09 over Kienle, 4:31 over Van Lierde, 4:41 over Brent McMahon (CAN), 4:43 over Llanos, 5:35 over Hoffman, 6:14 over Raelert, 6:16 over Tyler Butterfield (BER) and 6:56 over Potts, making for an extremely close race in the top 10. Once the top athletes ran back up to the Kuakini Highway and onto the Queen K Highway, O’Donnell started to inch back the time he had lost to Frodeno out front, with Raelert striding his way all the way up to third. When the athletes reached the infamous Energy Lab, Frodeno’s lead stood at 1:48 over O’Donnell and 2:54 over Raelert.
With Frodeno steady out front, the attention turned to the battle for the final two podium spots. As the men neared the final stretch on the way back to town, Raelert was able to bridge up to O’Donnell and then pass him. O’Donnell initially tried to keep pace right on his shoulder, but the effort was too much and he had to slow and dropped into third.
From that point, it was all Frodeno’s race. He looked fatigued over the final miles, but was able to hold steady out front all the way to the finish line. He used a 2:52:21 marathon to take the victory in 8:14:40. Raelert, who finished on the Kona podium four-straight times spanning from 2009 to 2012, found his way back there, crossing in second at 8:17:43. O’Donnell was the top finishing American in third at 8:18:50. Potts replicated his 2014 finish in fourth at 8:21:25, with Bermuda’s Tyler Butterfield completing the top five at 8:23:09.
2015 Ironman World Championship presented by GoPro
Kailua-Kona, Hawaii – Oct. 10, 2015
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run
1. Jan Frodeno (GER) 8:18:50
2. Andreas Raelert (GER) 8:17:43
3. Timothy O’Donnell (USA) 8:18:50
4. Andy Potts (USA) 8:21:25
5. Tyler Butterfield (BER) 8:23:09
6. Cyril Viennot (FRA) 8:25:05
7. Eneko Llanos (ESP) 8:28:10
8. Sebastian Kienle (GER) 8:29:43
9. Brent McMahon (CAN) 8:30:13
10. Boris Stein (GER) Boris Stein