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40 Stories – Jan Frodeno – 2015

The world of triathlon has become pretty specialized. There’s the short course folks and there’s the long course specialists. Very few have reached the pinnacle in both realms. But it can be done.

Karen Smyers, Greg Welch, Chris McCormack and yours truly have all won both the ITU World Championships and the IRONMAN World Championships. Michellie Jones became the first Olympic medalist to also win an IRONMAN World Championship. In 2015 Jan Frodeno was about to one up everybody.

Frodo, as many refer to him, was a Gold Medalist from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. He won in a dramatic surge at the very end of the run to break away from Simon Whitfield, who won Gold in the 2000 Sydney games, and Beven Docherty. Whitfield surged coming around the last turn before the final straight away to the finish. But then with just meters to go Frodo stepped on the gas and hit top end speeds that no one could answer back to.


Jan Frodeno was now setting his sights on winning the IRONMAN World Championship. He finished third in 2014 with the fastest run of the day. His weakness seemed to be the bike.

The next year in 2015 he reversed that.

His swim in 2015 was rock solid with a split of 50:50. That put him right where he needed to be at the start of the bike. Now it was time to see if he’d improved his cycling endurance speed. The previous year he lost over 16-minutes on the bike to the eventual winner Sebastian Kienle. This year it became clear that he’d made a gigantic jump up in his cycling. Jan Frodeno kept the differential to Kienle to about a minute and a half.

Frodo’s run ended up being one of the fastest of the day. He even held off a hard-charging Andreas Raelert. Jan Frodeno crossed the magic IRONMAN World Championship finish line in first place with a time of 8:14:40. He knew what he was about to do as he approached it. He was going to be come the first person to win an Olympic triathlon gold medal and an IRONMAN World Championship title.

“2015 for me was the achievement of a dream. After being burnt out from ITU racing and no longer having the passion to put myself through the paces, Hawaii gave my sporting career a new purpose, something I truly longed to succeed at. But after some injury riddled years, I knew I needed time to rebuild the strength to be at the top competitive end of the field. My coach and I set out to to win in 2015 and of course when you make a bold statement, it’s magic when it pays off. But even to the very end I didn’t dare to turn around until the last meter for fear of being the next favorite who’s dreams got crushed in this brutal race.”

Watch Jan Frodeno as he savors his victory:

Jan Frodeno’s performance is a Top-40 Greatest Moment At IRONMAN simply because of how difficult it is to be the best at both short and long distance racing. There are the names mentioned above who were able to do that.  There was many, many more who could never make the transition up. They never hit the top mark at long distance racing even though they could crush at short distance. Jan Frodeno was now at the top of the roll call of those who could.

It’s a different physiology that needs to be developed. It’s a completely different mindset necessary to handle a day that takes over four times longer to complete than an Olympic distance race. And it’s a very, very different type of challenge to figure out how to pace your season’s efforts to successfully tackle the IRONMAN World Championship. Jan Frodeno is one of those rare people who has!

To see what Jan is up to these days click HERE.

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