The Battle Royale between superstars Jan Frodeno and Lionel Sanders lived up to its much-acclaimed promise of high stakes, high drama, and high emotion this past weekend. In the two-man head-to-head iron-distance race in Allgäu, Germany, the Olympic gold medalist and three-time Ironman world champion Frodeno emerged the victor, breaking the finish-line tape at 7 hours, 27 minutes, and 53 seconds, breaking his own previous world record of 7:35:39 set at Challenge Roth in 2016. Sanders finished the Battle Royale in 7:43:28, also beating his previous personal best.
The dramatic race was heightened further by the backdrop, with thick clouds on the swim that turned to pouring rain on the bike leg. These stunning shots, captured by Zwift, who sponsored the event, show an intensity befitting the record-breaking day.
Read the full race recap here.
In the days leading up to the event, every detail was taken care of: including a specially designed turnaround on the bike course to avoid slowing into the U-turn.
The hype built in the pre-race press coverage.
Canadian Lionel Sanders prepared in his own area, before the two met out on the dock to get rowed to the middle of the river.
Sanders and Germany’s Jan Frodeno wished each other luck before the start of the Zwift Tri Battle Royale.
Jan Frodeno and Lionel Sanders dive in to Großer Alpsee to begin the swim. The swim course, like the rest of the course, was set up for a record time and included underwater lines throughout for better orientation.
Frodeno was the first to get out of the water after 45 minutes and 58 seconds and missed his own swim best of 2016 by just 18 seconds.
Exactly 5 minutes later – with a time of 50:58 minutes – Sanders also reached the shores of the Großer Alpsee.
The bike course was also designed for maximum speed. Unlike the usual route of the Allgäu Triathlon, passages with high vertical metres were eliminated in order to make the course fast.
Sanders comples the “Canyon Turn,” the specially constructed turning point. The 75m long and 4.5m high wooden structure was developed by a German company and enabled a constant high speed on every lap.
In 3:55 hours, and with an average speed of 28 miles per hour, Frodeo completed the bike course faster than Sanders and faster than his own world record, set five years ago. Sanders also beat his previous best bike performance, entering T2 in 4:01, eight minutes behind Frodeno.
Even a fall, which took place on the slippery path in the early miles of the marathon, couldn’t slow Frodeno down. “The fall was good and distracted me from my bad back pain, which I had at the time,” Frodeno joked later at the finish.
Sanders ran hard to try to bridge the gap to Frodeno, but the world champ pulled away.
An elated Frodeno crosses the finish line in a world-best time for an iron-distance triathlon.
The 39-year-old Frodeno described himself after the race as “broken” by the rigours of the world record. “It was so incredibly hard, but also just amazing because you never look up and you just have to be consistently as fast as possible.” He then added: “Can I finally have a chair now?”
Second-place Sanders grimaces as he makes his way down the finisher chute. Despite the pain, the runner-up paid the greatest respect to his opponent, describing the Battle Royale as the opportunity of a lifetime, adding that “it was an honor to compete today against [his] role model Jan Frodeno.”
Sanders and Frodeno congratulate and commiserate.
A record-breaking day.