He was a few kilometres into the marathon of the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, when Germany’s Jan Frodeno saw the first of his countrymen to have won the Ironman World Championship, Thomas Hellriegel (1997 champion), on the side of the road.
“A 2:44 gets you the record,” Hellriegel said as Frodeno ran past.
“I didn’t want to hear that,” Frodeno recounted later.
All week long Frodeno had downplayed any thoughts of going after the course record in Kona.
“The record is up for grabs,” he said at a press conference a few days before the race. “I want the title.”
In the end Frodeno would run a 2:42:43 marathon, enough to net him the course record (7:51:13) – an amazing achievement considering the conditions were considerably tougher than last year, when Patrick Lange became the first man to go under eight hours here in Kona (7:52:39).
Coming into the race Frodeno had pulled out all the stops in terms of equipment choices for the race. His race suit featured new materials that were better in the heat and more aerodynamic. His position on the bike had been dialed in, and he was using new aerobars that were a Zipp/ Canyon collaboration.
He was also wearing new running shoes from his sponsor Asics. Frodeno worked on his running style over the winter and found that the changes meant that the shoes he wore in winning the Ironman European Championship in Frankfurt ended up giving him some blisters.
Asics was quick to come through with a solution – a shoe that isn’t set to be released until the Tokyo Olympics next year. The hand-made prototypes had the Asics logo painted on just a week before the race after Frodeno used them for his last two long runs before the race on Saturday.
The new shoe features a carbon plate that is “designed to roll easier,” Frodeno says, and is narrower than the shoes he had been racing in.
Since Frodeno wouldn’t let anyone touch the shoes heading into the race, we don’t have much more information about them, other than to say they must be fast, and we’ll no-doubt see many of the world’s best marathon runners using them in Tokyo next summer.