On his 30th birthday Sebastian Kienle smashed the bike course record in Frankfurt with a 4:12:14 split on his new Scott Plasma bike and then ran sub 2:50 to take his first Ironman title in a course record time of 7:55:14. Brit Corinne Abraham reeled in long time race leader Jodie Swallow to take her first big Ironman win post the injury that took her out late last year.
It was reported that 400,000 spectators lined the course to see the action at the 2014 Ironman European Championships and they were surely not disappointed. Olympic champion Jan Frodeno was first out of the water in 45:39 with 2013 Ironman World Champion Frederik Van Lierde not too far behind in 45:44. 2-time 70.3 World Champion Sebastian Kienle exited the Langener Waldsee 4 minutes later and then went to work hard on the bike.
His bike split was a phenomenal fast 4:12:14 and that was done on a fairly difficult bike course. The previous best split was done by Andreas Raelert in 2010 when he managed a respectable 4:20:35. In 2002 Normann Stadler rode 4:22:13, but today Frederik Van Lierde eclipsed that time with a 4:21:33 on the way to second place. Jan Frodeno had 3 flat tires but hung in tough to finish 3rd behind Van Lierde.
Van Lierde was very impressed with Kienle's effort all day and said, "He waited 5km to attack on Heartbreak Hill and from there it was just trying to hang on and wait for the run. Last year I was the World Champion, but today there was a man better than me. I had a perfect race, but it wasn't enough."
Jan Frodeno struggled at the end but expressed joy as he came towards the finish. "Three flat tires and third place - that all matches," said Frodeno. "The crowd gave me so much energy. I started cramping before I even started the run. The last few meters though were an incredible pleasure."
Jodie Swallow set the pace in the women's race, but unlike the men's race it was a very tight affair with quite a few Pros in easy striking distance throughout the bike segment. Among the other players near the front were Mary Beth Ellis, Camilla Pedersen, Corinne Abraham and Natascha Badmann. Yes, the Swiss Pro who has won 6 Ironman World Championship titles from 1998 through 2005, and who simply does not seem to slow down much. The top 9 women were in fact only 4 minutes apart as they reached the bike-run transition.
Abraham however looked great all day and slowly reeled in Swallow during the run. Wutti initially looked strong and dangerous too, but she started to struggle and fell off the pace and Gina Crawford steadily moved forward. Abraham caught Swallow shortly after the halfway point of the marathon with a 1:30:05 effort, and in the end ran 3:04:39 to capture the Ironman European Championships in 8:52:40, the third fastest time recorded here.
Liz Lyles came from way back to finish second in 8:56:36 and Crawford ran tough to finish 3rd in 8:58:06.
"After the swim, I did not know my position, but I stayed calm. I knew there were faster girls than me,"said Abraham. "I worked really hard on the bike and felt the result of the training in Lanzarote. I tried to catch up the time I lost during the swim leg. The run went well, I tried to control my lead and to keep a safe gap on the girls chasing me. I was only sure when I passed the finish line."
Word has it that all podium finishers will be at the start in Kona this year, and Frodeno apparently had more bad luck. His wetsuit ripped during the swim. On a more positive note, 4,500 volunteers made this special day in Frankfurt possible and here is a big thank you to all those who stepped up and gave up their time to allow others to race and have great memories.
Ironman European Championships
Frankfurt, Germany / July 6, 2014
2.4m swim / 112m bike / 26.2m run
1. Sebastian Kienle (GER) 7:55:14
2. Frederik Van Lierde (BEL) 8:00:25
3. Jan Frodeno (GER) 8:07:05
4. Ronnie Schildknecht (SUI) 8:12:54
5. Alessandro Degasperi (ITA) 8:20:39
6. David Plese (SLO) 8:21:04
7. Marc Dülsen (GER) 8:28:30
8. Miquel Blanchart (ESP) 8:32:49
9. Jan Raphael (GER) 8:38:08
10. Iván Gómez (ESP) 8:38:40
1. Corinne Abraham (GBR) 8:52:40
2. Liz Lyles (USA) 8:56:36
3. Gina Crawford (NZL) 8:58:06
4. Kristin Möller (GER) 9:02:17
5. Amy Marsh (USA) 9:06:33
6. Natascha Badmann (SUI) 9:08:13
7. Jodie Swallow (GBR) 9:08:44
8. Mary Beth Ellis (USA) 9:10:08
9. Katja Konschak (GER) 9:20:48
10. Natascha Schmitt (GER) 9:21:56