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Which Jan Frodeno will show up to Oceanside 70.3?

Can the German star return to his unbeaten ways in 2023?

Photo by: Talbot Cox

When three-time Kona and Olympic champion Jan Frodeno announced his “farewell tour” earlier this year, it quickly became apparent that many athletes were eager to take on the man many consider to be the greatest of all time (GOAT) one last time. First on Frodeno’s 2023 race list is Ironman 70.3 Oceanside, and the field will include a whopping 73 pro men.

Jan Frodeno’s 70.3 Oceanside entry inspires huge pro contingent

Frodeno rarely (if ever) heads into a race unless he feels he’s ready to win it, and the 41-year-old will likely have his sights set on an unbeaten season. He hasn’t lost a race that he’s finished since 2018 – that year he started the season with a convincing 3:45:05 victory in Oceanside, too. In fact, if you really want proof of just how dominant Frodeno has been since setting his sights on long distance racing, think about this: the German was unbeaten in 2015; took second at Ironman Lanzorote while coming back from an Achilles injury in 2016 (then went on to set a new world-best time in Roth and win in Kona); didn’t finish Oceanside in 2017, won his next two races, then had a back issue in Kona where he was forced to walk the marathon; then was unbeaten in every race he entered in 2018, 2019 and 2021. (One would imagine there’s a good chance that would have been the case in 2020, too – the timing of the pandemic couldn’t have been worse for Frodeno’s legacy.)

So, with all that in mind, while the field set to race at Ironman 70.3 Oceanside is impressive, the biggest challenge Frodeno is likely to face this year will come at the Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO) European Open in Ibiza in May. There he’ll face the likes of defending Ironman World Champion Gustav Iden and defending Ironman 70.3 World Champion Kristian Blummenfelt. (Not to mention Kona runner-up Sam Laidlow and a host of other athletes with similar backgrounds to the German – read, former short-course athletes who can swim with the best, have developed impressive riding skills and can run like the wind. Anyone heard of that other Olympic gold medalist named Alistair Brownlee, for example?)

Ironman Oceanside 70.3 – Jan Frodeno.

Fitness test?

Not that we’re trying to imply that Frodeno arrives in California as the prohibitive favourite. We haven’t seen Frodeno in full race form for well over a year. He had to pull out of Challenge Roth last year due to injury, and then lost the rest of the season after a bike crash that required surgery. While we’d love to imagine that Canadians Jackson Laundry (the men’s defending champion) and Lionel Sanders (who is hopefully over the injuries sustained at Clash Miami) will be ready to duplicate their first and second performance from last year, it’s also easy to imagine that they never get in the mix if Frodeno and the likes of Ben Kanute and defending World Triathlon Championship Series champion Leo Bergere can blast clear in the water and stay away for the rest of the day.

And that’s where the true test will be. In Ibiza Frodeno will be joined by a few more competitive swimmers, and have to hold off the charge from Blummenfelt and Iden, who will likely be much closer after the swim than Laundry and Sanders will be in Oceanside.

Will Frodeno be happy with a win in California next weekend? For sure. But he’s savvy enough to know that the race in California will only serve as a test to see where things are at heading into the final push for the PTO event in Ibiza.

The last time Frodeno won in Oceanside, he beat Lionel Sanders by almost four minutes. A victory by that kind of margin might answer a lot of the questions we’ll have about the three-time Kona champ heading into May.

All of which means just one thing – there will be a lot of folks keen to see the race in Oceanside.