German youngster Nils Frommhold won Ironman Arizona in 2012, Ironman South Africa earlier this year and recently finished second at the 2014 Datev Challenge Roth. He also has plenty other fine results but now meet the man.
Slowtwitch: How are you doing Nils?
Nils Frommhold: I’m ok and you?
ST: All is well here for sure. It sounds like you accepted your slot to go to Kona. Will this be your first trip to the big dance?
Nils: Yes I am going to Kona for the very first time! I wanted to go as spectator last year and feel the special vibe, but because of an injury I missed the European summer races and that is why I preferred racing in the USA instead of the big dance.
ST: Was that a big target for you?
Nils: Yes and No! I had two main goals before Kona. Be qualified without too much racing and a good shape for the Challenge Roth. Both went good. After winning the Ironman South Africa in April I got enough points in the KPR and also racing Roth was special for me.
ST: You hit both targets already. So does that mean you can relax now?
Nils: I could relax because I hit my targets but as pro you should define new goals. I am not going to Kona for holidays. It is the important race in the triathlon world and I will be one of the main actors in the future. Right now, it is difficult to define a clear goal without any Kona experiences. Kona 2014 is my personal starting point and should show me how much I have to catch up.
ST: In 2012 you won Ironman Arizona during your first long course start. Did you have to explain to folks after the race who you were and where you came from?
Nils: Of course I had to explain where I came from and why it was possible to win my first long course triathlon in 8:03h. It was a mixture between changing from ITU racing and came back from a major injury. Training for Ironman Arizona was like starting a new triathlon career - everything was new for me. Pacing with watts, nutrition, TT bike and so on, it was like learning triathlon in new way and it was my personal challenge to deal with that.
ST: Who guided you on the path for that first long course race?
Nils: Since 2011 I have been trained by Wolfram Bott. At Arizona time he was the U-23 national coach in Germany and I was his first real long course athlete. After he started to train great athletes like the Raelert Brothers or the Luxembourg Federation.
ST: Cozumel was next, but that was a year later. What happened in between?
Nils: I had planned to do Roth in 2013 and missed the race because of a stress fracture. That is the reason why I did my second long course so far from my first.
ST: You ended up 5th there. After the big high in Arizona, was that a bit of a let down?
Nils: That is the point! Before Arizona I didn´t know what expected me and I was nervous like never before. I thought behind every corner I could hit the wall. But nothing happen and the race became too perfect for me without any problems. Cozumel went totally different. I though it goes on like Arizona and perhaps I had not enough respect for my second try. It came as it had come. At the marathon I got problems with the heat and had to walk because of dehydration. Typically for newbies - you have no answers to deal with problems. But this experience was better for me than winning the perfect race like in Arizona. It is possible to come back and after a long walk I was able to run again and finishing fifth. It is not over until the finish line!
ST: In 2009 you earned the German U23 title, but it was relatively quiet after that until you showed up in AZ. Where were you, what happened, and why the switch to log course?
Nils: I was member of the German National Team from 2008- 2012. In that time I tried to qualify for the World Series in which I raced 2009. After I didn´t succeed to be part of the team with strong contenders like Jan Frodeno, Daniel Unger and Steffen Justus, and I competed in smaller international races like European Cup or World Cup. When you race ITU the ranking is important to get your slot for the big races and my ranking was too low. In summary my 10k run was too slow for the best. That was one point why I switched to long course racing. Like I said at the beginning, the main point was that I searched for a new personal challenge and after doing ITU for almost six years it was time for something new.
ST: What was your best 10k run in an ITU race?
Nils: Something between 31:30- 31:15 minutes.
ST: This year a nice win in South Africa showed that the win in Arizona in 2012 was not a fluke. Did it pretty much go as planned?
Nils: Yes, South Africa went like I planed. After Cozumel it was important to know that Arizona was not an accident. It made me very happy that Faris Al-Sultan told me after finish that´s easier to win the first then the second long course.
ST: Did Faris have any other words of advice?
Nils: Yes, as long course rookie it is good to know people like Faris. You can learn a lot from him. He knows how to win big races and he is one of the athletes I like to listen to his interviews or blogs. I love his direct honest lovely style of talking. He shares his own experiences like using the right sun cream.
ST: You also did well in a few 70.3 races recently and I guess after that there was no more under the radar flying?
Nils: Hopefully! I do my best at every race and it is an honor to be noticed by others.
ST: But when you came to Roth maybe not all eyes were on you.
Nils: Yes and that was good for me! Because of the 30th anniversary Felix Walchshöfer presented one of the strongest field of the Roth history. There were more famed athletes and all eyes where on them. Sometimes it is a better life as a dark horse.
ST: When you finally got away on the bike in Roth, how much of an advantage did you think you needed?
Nils: It sounds crazy but I thought that a 5 minutes advantage for the marathon is enough. In the end I got 5 minutes and finished second. But I showed everything I had and lost against a better Timo Bracht. It is good to know to perform as I did and see potential for the future.
ST: Andreas Niedrig rode very hard during the first lap. Did that surprise you?
Nils: Before Roth I knew Andreas Niedrig just because of his lifetime story from drug-dependent to a triathlon pro in the 90s. Of course it was crazy to see him at the front but I did my own race and concentrated on myself.
ST: In the end you finished second behind Timo Bracht. Where does this result rank?
Nils: The result is important for my future and my personal development in long course racing. I am just 27 and I have the possibilities to win big races right now. Plus I have a lot time to become a stronger athlete. That is extra motivation!
ST: What about the race itself? What was it like to race in Roth?
Nils: It was special because of all the spectators and after I took the lead it looked like the crowd was freaking out. I knew that it could be specifically but in another way. To claim the Solar Hill as the leader is a lifetime memory and I will think about it often. There is no word to describe that feeling! Very emotional
ST: When will you leave for Kona?
Nils: I am going to the 70.3 Worlds in Mont Tremblant and after that I will stay in Florida for the final training period. I leave for Kona at the beginning of October.
ST: Will we see you at the slowtwitch gathering?
ST: Is there anything else we should know?
Nils: It was a pleasure to be interviewed by you guys. Of course thank you for the special bib number holder. Now no excuses for strange looking bike numbers for me.