— by Kevin Mackinnon
TMC International Female Triathlete of the Year: Daniela Ryf
Could there be any doubt? After struggling with back issues for much of 2017, Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf was late starting her season in 2018, but once she did get rolling, there was simply no stopping her. She got things rolling with a win at Ironman 70.3 Rapperswil, smoked a stellar field at the Ironman European Championship in Frankfurt, winning the race by 26 minutes, and then smoked three-time Kona champ Mirinda Carfrae by over 20 minutes, setting a new half-distance world best thanks to her 3:57:56 finish.
Related: Ryf sets new 70.3 world best time
And that was just the tune-up for the world championship season. In September she took her fourth 70.3 title despite a pesky zipper on her trisuit that had her do the bike ride with what looked like a parachute trailing behind.
So, no, there’s no arguing this one. It’s Daniela all the way.
TMC International Male Triathlete of the Year: Jan Frodeno
After a tough day at the 2017 Ironman World Championship in 2017, Jan Frodeno sat down with his manager and planned out the 2018 season. He would take on Lionel Sanders at Ironman 70.3 Oceanside. Patrick Lange at Ironman 70.3 Kraichgau and again at the Ironman European Championship in Frankfurt. He’d take on Alistair Brownlee and Javier Gomez at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in South Africa. Then he’d make another run for the Kona title.
Other than the final race on that calender, 2018 could not have gone any better for the 2008 Olympic champion. He dominated in California and at the two races in Germany. He took what many consider to be one of the most exciting races our sport has ever seen as he ran clear to take the 70.3 worlds over another couple of athletes who will go down as amongst the greatest our sport has ever seen.
Then disaster struck. A stress fracture sidelined Frodeno from Kona and he had to watch as Patrick Lange became the first man to break the eight-hour barrier in Kona. It would have been the ultimate way to end his career – a win and a record in Kona. (Frodeno admitted during interviews in Kona this year that he had planned to retire if he had been able to capture another Kona title.) The good news from all that is we’ll get to see Frodeno compete for another year in 2019.
Frodeno’s incredible season relegates Lange’s amazing Kona race as a “performance of the year,” rather than one that might have netted him our international triathlete of the year title. It also overshadows Mario Mola’s third straight world-championship season, too.