N 1997 I WAS IN KONA FOR THE IRONMAN

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - FEATURES - BY KEVIN MACKINNON

IWorld Championship in part as a coach – I worked with Lori Bow­den and Lisa Bent­ley at the time – and also to cover the event as a free­lancer for CBC Ra­dio.

Ear­lier that week I had in­ter­viewed Thomas Hell­reigel, the run­ner-up from a year ear­lier, and asked him how he thought Peter Reid might fare in the race. “Peter won’t be with us in Hawi,” he said. “But he beat both you and Jur­gen [Zack] in Aus­tralia this year,” I said. “You don’t think he can ride with you?”

Ex­as­per­ated, Hell­reigel gave me a look, grabbed my mi­cro­phone and said: “Peter…will…not…be…with…us…in…hawi.” A few days later I got to see just how fright­en­ing the Ger­man jug­ger­naut can be when it comes to rac­ing in Kona. Hell­reigel and Zack ham­mered through the bike. Along the Queen K they pushed the pace so hard that Reid, who gamely tried to hang on, was shat­tered by the time he got to the famed 7-11 store in Kawai­hai that sig­nals the start of the long climb up to Hawi. Reid saw his coach, Roch Frey, in the park­ing lot and climbed off his bike.

“I’m done,” he said. (Frey would in­sist that Reid get back on his bike – the Cana­dian would even­tu­ally run his way to fourth, set­ting up his first Kona win the next year.)

Af­ter dis­pens­ing with Reid and the rest of the field, Hell­reigel and Zack would ride and run their way to the championship. Third that day went to Lothar Leder. The Ger­man dom­i­na­tion con­tin­ued – in the end there were five Ger­mans in the top 10.

Fast for­ward 19 years. Rather than wait for the 20th an­niver­sary of the all-ger­man podium, Jan Fro­deno, Se­bas­tian Kienle and Pa­trick Lange de­cided they would do the re­peat per­for­mance a year early. Add in An­dreas Boecherer (fifth) and Boris Stein (seventh) and you have five in top 10, too.

Oh, and the top age g roup rac­ers on the day? Ger­man, too.

If the men’s race was dom­i­nated by the Ger­mans, the women’s race was an all-swiss show that starred Daniela Ryf, who took the race in record-set­ting fash­ion, post­ing the eighth-fastest swim, fastest bike by eight min­utes and even out-ran the sport’s premier run­ner, Mirinda Car­frae, to an­ni­hi­late the course record by a whop­ping six min­utes with her 8:46:46 fin­ish, al­most 24 min­utes ahead of run­ner-up Car­frae, the pre­vi­ous record holder.

ABOVE

Fro­deno cross­ing the line to take his back-to-back Kona vic­to­ries

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