Jan Frodeno speaks with Ironman as he gears up for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship.
August 31, 2018 | NEWS|
Ironman: Great to see you here at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship – how good is to be back in South Africa where you spent some time growing up?
Jan Frodeno: Yes, it’s been a long time since I’ve been back to South Africa but, nonetheless, absence makes the heart grow fonder. It was a bit of a memory trip landing into Cape Town this morning and I’m really glad to be back.
You had a good start to the season with the win at Oceanside and kicked on with the victory at Frankfurt recently; how well did the start of the season set you up for what’s come since?
What really set me up more was the 39 km of walking in Kona last year, really asking myself some basic questions: why I’m here and why I want to do this at this stage of my life and this stage of my career, and it really has added some fuel to the fire and got me well and truly motivated. When you spend a year away, working hard and changing a few things, it’s always great to get a standpoint like Oceanside against some of the best. It showed me I’m working in a good way and therefore continue to do so.
And focusing on this race specifically, the Ironman 70.3 World Championship, the race itself has been elevated in recent years in terms of status partially because of the depth of field at the top. Do you feel this is the strongest the sport of triathlon and Ironman has been in your career?
In terms of the 70.3 stage and the most competitive field, we’re missing maybe one or two guys who, unfortunately, aren’t here, but other than we’ve got the fastest guys of the short course, a few Olympic medals up here and quite a few world titlists, too. Plus some very good and established 70.3 racers. Trying to juggle all of that into a Kona prep is certainly unique and something that has demanded a lot of attention. I’m really looking forward to seeing how it all pans out on Sunday.
And how much motivation does that strength in the field give you going into the race?
A strong field such as this doesn’t just motivate me for race day, it motivates me for weeks out. Obviously I’m nervous for showing up on a day like this, too, and, therefore, giving it that extra bit in preparation and motivating me to push that last interval that little bit harder than I perhaps otherwise would, that’s what it’s all about. I certainly need this kind of competition to grow and really find my limits, and that’s something that I’ve done this last few weeks.
Talking of medalists being here this week, it is 10 years since Beijing. Do you feel that Ironman and triathlon have ever been in a stronger position to inspire the next generation of kids to take it up?
To be frank, I did dispute the Ironman scene for quite a while. In my days as a short course racer I was an avid ‘against Ironman’ kind of racer and, therefore, probably missed a fair bit of the history, too. There are guys like Dave Scott and Mark Allen, as well as the earlier German generation, that inspired thousands of people to get into the sport. I think we’re really benefiting from their early rock and roll years, so to speak, but it’s certainly been a crazy ride the last few years where it’s been gaining more and more momentum and gaining more and more interest around the world. It’s been really cool to be part of that journey.
You talked about Kona briefly early. How tricky has it been doing the prep for this race as well as that and is there anything specifically you’ll focus on after this race that will set you up perfectly for Kona?
I think the difficulty is always managing the intensity versus the economy of your training and the longer distances. I haven’t done too many long sessions since Frankfurt and I haven’t done too much heat acclimatization either, but I’ve done some really hard miles which are generally quite beneficial, so I feel I’ve got enough time after this to do some long miles in some long sweaty boxing style outfits getting ready for the heat of Kona.
The Ironman 70.3 World Championship event, on a whole, has been rising in status the last several years. How do you see this ranks in terms of popularity?
I remember doing my first Ironman 70.3 races several years ago and, even then, the buzz and the hype wasn’t nearly what it is now. Of course a big field always generates a lot of interest, but you have to realize in an Ironman event, its not about the pro field. It's great and it’s a draw card, but it’s a world championship for close to 4,500 people here and its really cool to see how people are embracing that and they really feel like they’re part of a world championship.
Will you feed off the energy from the others around you?
Of course, you almost get to share that nervousness and shared pain is half the pain. It gets that feeling of an open Olympic village - you see people here and on the plane here, everyone’s calves are ripped and they have their funky boots and all these other things they bring on. But you see the importance of it. People really find something they are passionate about and I find it when you get on a normal plane that you don’t find that and that’s what’s so cool about coming to an event like this.
What would be a successful event for you?
Coming home as a world champion.