Jan Fro­deno

Rachel Mcbride

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - Front Page -

Well, this one was easy. While one might ar­gue that Alis­tair Brown­lee, in de­fend­ing his gold medal in Rio, de­served the nod in this cat­e­gory, it’s hard to put one stel­lar per­for­mance up against what Fro­deno achieved this year.

Peter Reid, Canada’s own three-time Iron­man world cham­pion, used to al­ways say that de­fend­ing a Kona ti­tle is the hard­est thing in our sport. Fro­deno en­tered 2016 as the world cham­pion over both the 70.3 and the Iron­man dis­tances. He started the year off by tak­ing the first leg of the mil­lion dol­lar triple crown in Bahrain, but then disas­ter struck. A huge tear in his calf put him out of com­mis­sion for a few months and caused him to have to jug­gle his sched­ule – he had to skip Iron­man South Africa and jump into Iron­man Lan­zarote at the last minute to en­sure he could val­i­date his Kona slot.

Head­ing into that Lan­zarote race Fro­deno made it very clear that the goal was to fin­ish and not jeop­ar­dize his planned world record at­tempt at Chal­lenge Roth a few months later. Fro­deno pushed hard through­out the day, though, and was only passed by Jesse Thomas in the last few km of the race.

Then came Roth. Fro­deno piled the pres­sure on him­self head­ing into that race, mak­ing his in­ten­tions clear to ev­ery­one that he was go­ing af­ter the record. His 45:22 swim set a new pro swim course record. His 4:08:07 bike split also broke the course record ( pre­vi­ously held by su­per-biker Andy Starykow­icz). His 2:39 marathon was the fastest of the day for 20 min­utes, un­til run­ner-up Joe Skip­per came across the line eight sec­onds faster.

The end re­sult, 7: 35: 39, broke the old world record time held by An­dreas Rael­ert by al­most six min­utes. Af­ter push­ing so hard, Fro­deno de­cided he had to skip the Iron­man 70.3 worlds if he was go­ing to be in any sort of shape to de­fend his Kona ti­tle.

In Kona Fro­deno shone once again. This time, though, he led a Ger­man sweep of the podium, a fit­ting sign of just how much he’s el­e­vated the sport in his home coun­try. His 8: 06: 30 was enough to hold off Se­bas­tian Kienle and new­comer Pa­trick Lange.

Last year we couldn’t imag­ine any way that Fro­deno could top his stel­lar 2015 per­for­mances. He did. Who knows what we can look for­ward to in 2017.– KM

Brent Mcma­hon

Brent Mcma­hon took the Iron­man South Amer­i­can Cham­pi­onship in Brazil last June in a blis­ter­ing 7:46:10, miss­ing the (then) Iron­man world record time by a dozen sec­onds. Af­ter a dis­ap­point­ing day in Kona, Mcma­hon was in Tempe, Ariz. where he recorded yet an­other sub-8 hour day (7:50:15), only to find him­self al­most five min­utes be­hind Lionel San­ders.

Re­turn­ing from in­jury in 2016, Rachel Mcbride turned in an­other sea­son of ex­cel­lent re­sults. The Van­cou­ver-based pro missed most of 2015 due to stress frac­tures in her foot, but hit the podium sev­eral times over the sum­mer.

Mcbride’s first race back, af­ter more than a year out, was Iron­man 70.3 Vic­to­ria in June.

“It was re­ally ex­cit­ing to get back into the mix in Vic­to­ria. It was a lo­cal race and my fam­ily was there.” she says. “It was re­ally a tester race for me. I was not in top gear, but still fin­ished pretty well.”

Mcbride came home fourth over­all with top-five splits in all dis­ci­plines, show­ing that she was well on the way to full fit­ness.

Next up she headed south to Cal­i­for­nia for Iron­man 70.3 Vine­man. Up against a very com­pet­i­tive field which in­cluded 2016 Iron­man 70.3 world cham­pion Holly Lawrence, Mcbride again put in a strong per­for­mance across the board to fin­ish sixth.

Vine­man was a step in the right di­rec­tion for Mcbride, but the big break­through came two weeks later, at Iron­man 70.3 Cal­gary. She’s the course record holder at the event, so hit the start line feel­ing con­fi­dent. Af­ter a strong cy­cle, Mcbride headed out onto the run along­side Amer­i­can Jen Spielden­ner. In the end, it came down to a sprint for the line, with the Amer­i­can win­ning by just four sec­onds.

Af­ter Cal­gary, Mcbride took a few weeks away from triathlon. In the mean­time, she won the steep­est 400-me­tre race in the world, the Red Bull 400. Held in Whistler, B.C., the race goes straight up a ski jump, and is a huge test of anaer­o­bic fit­ness.

She then switched her fo­cus to the ITU Long Dis­tance World Cham­pi­onships in Ok­la­homa City in Septem­ber. To pre­pare for the ITU long course dis­tances (4 km/ 120 km/ 30 km) she be­gan work­ing with a run coach to specif­i­cally pre­pare for that leg, and came into the race in great shape.

Com­ing out of the wa­ter, in dif­fi­cult con­di­tions, Mcbride gave up about 10 min­utes to a small lead group. She soon be­gan clos­ing the gap, though, us­ing her tra­di­tion­ally strong bike leg to pass through the field. Her train­ing then clearly paid off on the run, and she moved up to third place at the fin­ish.

“To have an­other bronze medal at ITU Worlds was such an in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence. To be on the podium with two un­be­liev­ably tal­ented ath­letes like [win­ner, Jodie] Swal­low and [Caro­line] St­ef­fen was just pretty mind blow­ing.” says Mcbride.

Not con­tent to leave her sea­son there, Mcbride headed off to Mex­ico for her fulld­is­tance de­but at Iron­man Cozumel. The ul­ti­mate goal is Kona. “2017 is go­ing to be fo­cused on Kona.” She also plans to com­pete at the ITU Long Dis­tance World Cham­pi­onships in Pen­tic­ton, B.C., and Iron­man Canada if there is a women’s pro race in Whistler. this, and clearly the re­sults are com­ing. Maybe I should try pur­su­ing this.’”

Robin­son then de­cided to step up to the half- dis­tance. Hav­ing pre­vi­ously com­pleted half-marathons and a marathon, the run­ning part didn’t phase her, and the pro­gres­sion felt like the next natural step. She also be­gan work­ing with coach Clint Lien of Mer­cury Ris­ing Triathlon in Vic­to­ria.

Her de­ci­sion was re­warded when she won her age- group at Iron­man 70.3 Vic­to­ria in 2015, her first race at that dis­tance. Later in 2015, Robin­son com­peted at the Iron­man 70.3 World Cham­pi­onship in Zell- am- See, Aus­tria, and her re­sult in Vic­to­ria also qual­i­fied her for the 2016 ITU Long Dis­tance World Cham­pi­onship.

This sea­son be­gan in sim­i­lar fash­ion to 2015 for Robin­son, as she again won her age-group at Vic­to­ria 70.3, where she was fourth in her age-group out of the wa­ter, but had the fastest bike and run splits to take victory by nearly seven min­utes. “That was prob­a­bly as close to my ideal race ex­e­cu­tion as I’ve yet to do,” says Robin­son. Next up was the Great White North Triathlon in Stony Plain, Alta., where Robin­son took sec­ond in her age-group. Her fo­cus then turned to the ITU Long Dis­tance World Cham­pi­onships in Ok­la­homa City last Septem­ber. This was a step up in dis­tance, to a 4-km swim, 120-km bike and 30-km run. As the race started, the swim con­di­tions were ter­ri­ble and, de­spite be­ing a con­fi­dent open-wa­ter swim­mer, the first leg proved a real chal­lenge. “I was gen­uinely un­com­fort­able and anx­ious. It was so wavy. It was so windy. The only rea­son I got through the first loop was be­cause I told my­self, ‘There’s no way they’re let­ting us go out to do a sec­ond loop.’” says Robin­son. The or­ga­niz­ers didn’t pull the ath­letes out of the wa­ter, and Robin­son ex­ited four min­utes back from her com­pe­ti­tion. She soon set about clos­ing this gap on a hot and windy bike leg. She recorded the fastest split of the day by nearly nine min­utes, and headed out onto the run course in first.

Robin­son had been lim­ited in her run prepa­ra­tion due to a hip in­jury. This showed slightly over the 30 km, but she fought hard to fin­ish sec­ond, just six min­utes down on the even­tual win­ner and more than eight min­utes clear of third.

Next year, Robin­son has al­ready qual­i­fied for the ITU long dis­tance worlds, which will be held in Pen­tic­ton, B.C. in Au­gust, and is hop­ing to go one bet­ter.

“I haven’t ac­tu­ally said this out loud yet, but I guess my goal is to win my age-group. I think if I have a good race and I’m prop­erly trained and in­jury free, that’s def­i­nitely a pos­si­bil­ity.” says Robin­son.

BE­LOW Claire Robin­son at the Great White North Triathlon ABOVE Brent Mcma­hon at Iron­man Ari­zona 2016 OP­PO­SITE Mcbride at Iron­man 70.3 Vic­to­ria

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