After a disappointing showing in 2017 and then missing the race altogether in 2018, Jan Frodeno came back with a dominant performance at the Ironman World Championship in 2019, setting a new course record.
Frodeno, 38, won back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2016, but was reduced to walking in 2017 and finished well over nine hours. In 2018, he was forced to pull out a month before the race after suffering a stress fracture in his hip. So, coming into 2019, he had a bit of extra motivation.
The course record had seen some serious changes since “Frodo” last won the race. Fellow German Patrick Lange broke Craig Alexander’s 8:03:56 from 2011 with an 8:01:40 in 2017, and then Lange became the first man to dip under the eight-hour barrier the following year with a blistering 7:52:39.
Frodeno would race from the front all day, coming out of the water in 47:31 in a lead pack that included Australian Josh Amberger, American Tim O’Donnell and two-time Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee.
With O’Donnell, Brownlee and Frodeno forming a lead group throughout most of the bike, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist surged ahead with 30 km to go, giving himself a two-minute buffer heading into T2 with a final split of 4:16:02.
Frodeno would not be caught on the run, posting the fastest marathon of the day in 2:42:43 for a final time of 7:51:13, edging Lange’s record by 1:26. It was Frodeno’s fastest performance in Kona by over 15 minutes and just the third in Big Island history under eight hours. O’Donnell earned the fourth shortly thereafter, placing second in 7:59:41.
Frodeno’s win puts him in elite company, joining Dave Scott, Mark Allen, Peter Reid and Craig Alexander as men who have won three or more Ironman World Championship titles.