Because of Aloha in the South Seas Paradise: Patrick Lange and his top German challengers Jan Frodeno and Sebastian Kienle are ready for the merciless battle for the Ironman crown.
"Kona is the race I'm made for," says defending champion Lange and after his memorable triumphs in 2017 and 2018, he also wants to create the hat-trick on Hawaii. In the way, not only relentless 3.86 kilometers swimming, 180.2 kilometers cycling and 42.2 kilometers running, but above all, the two German ex-champions. "There are no excuses," says Frodeno, winner of 2015 and 2016. "It's time to brush up on memories," affirms Kienle, 2014 winner.
A thunderbolt in the Bay of Kailua-Kuna will release the race on Saturday at 6.25 local time with the start of the professional men. Shortly thereafter, it starts for the women, where the Swiss Daniela Ryf as clear favorites for their fifth win in series applies. The previous year's third Anne Haug and Laura Philipp could also provide here for German medal gloss on an eight-hour working day of physical and mental stress.
A day with highs and lows for all participants, a day that will demand everything from all around 2500 starters. The last ones will take up to 17 hours, the first ones possibly under eight, just like Lange twelve months ago with his record time of 7:52:39 hours.
"Other nations, other athletes scrape the hoofs to break the German phalanx," stressed Lange. "But of course I hope that things are going according to plan for a German triathlon. I know, stand today, nothing that speaks against it, »said the 33-year-old in an interview with the« Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung ».
His wishful thinking: Together with Frodeno on the last kilometers of the final marathon. Man against man, course record holder against world best time owner. Hawaii is to remain Langes area, nowhere is the native Hesse as strong as there in the extreme conditions. Frodeno, however, has been unbeaten for almost two years and is already four weeks in Hawaii, perfectly acclimated.
"I like to relinquish the role of favorite to Jan," said Lange, whose mission on the Big Island began unhappily: coach Faris Al-Sultan got no entry permit, his wife suffered a wound in a camber on the face, which are sewn with ten stitches had to. "Who can fade that out," said Lange, who had proposed marriage to her a year ago after his great victory at the finish.
It will be crucial for Lange not to lose the connection while swimming and cycling. Of course, the competition knows that and will increase the pressure accordingly. One, with whom the three Germans also count, is indeed a Hawaii debutant, but "an animal", as Frodeno meant appreciatively. The speech is from two-time Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee. It is unclear how the Briton can cope with the unique challenges in Hawaii.
In addition to a few other contenders for top 10 places – and perhaps more – such as the other German Andreas Böcherer, Andreas Dreitz, Maurice Clavel or Nils Frommhold, also the Canadian Vice World Champion of 2017, Lionel Sanders, as a medal candidate.
But it could also come to the German showdown. Again. In 1996, Thomas Hellriegel was the first German to win on Hawaii, Normann Stadler followed in 2004 and 2006, in between triumphed Long's current coach Faris Al-Sultan. A German triple success was achieved in 2016: Frodeno ahead of Kienle and Lange. "It feels like an eternity," Frodeno says of his recent Hawaii success.
Frodeno is 38 years old by now, he is still the only triathlete to win the Olympic Gold and the Ironman World Championship, and with 7:35:39 he has been keeping the best time over the long distance since 2016 in Roth.
He does not think about ending his career in the case of another Hawaii triumph. «With the idea to stop, I played more in the last than this year,» he told the German Press Agency. Last year, he rediscovered his passion for sport "at the edge of the track," emphasized Frodeno. A stress fracture in the hip prevented his start, the year before had painfully slowed him back problems. He realized that he was not ready to be marginalized in the longer term. "That's why in any case, I will still be there next year." Whether as a defending champion or challenger will show.