Archive | AthleteFocus

Kona Kings & Queens: Patrick Lange

This is an excerpt from my “Kona 2018 Rating Report“. You can download your copy here.

Patrick BibPatrick Points

Patrick’s Kona marathons have been incredible: Two sub-2:40s saw him finish in third and first place, both times running through the field in a methodical, controlled fashion. He started with a solid pace and then seemed to get faster and faster the more athletes he was able to overtake. (Technically, he slowed down in the second half of the run, but by a lot less than his competition.) Both years he was able to finish on an adrenaline high, picking up a few crucial spots around the Energy Lab. Last year, he took the lead just three miles before the finish.

Patrick usually loses around ten minutes on the bike which would make it hard for him to defend his title. In his summer IM in Frankfurt he was able to work with a strong rider such as Frodo for the full bike leg, but probably Frodo was looking for a run duel and Patrick wasn’t quite able to match Frodo’s run pace. You can be sure however that he’ll be preparing with the goal of setting a new run course record in October. If he finds the right balance, he can limit the time lost on the bike without sacrificing too much of his run strength, and he’ll be a lot closer to the front of the race at the start of the run. It would be awesome to see the race come down to the last few miles between two or more strong runners!

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Photo: Patrick on the bike at IM Frankfurt. Credit: James Mitchell

Kona Kings & Queens: Daniela Ryf

This is an excerpt from my “Kona 2018 Rating Report“. You can download your copy here.

Dani BibDani Points

Daniela is the dominant female Ironman athlete for the last years, winning Kona from 2015 to 2017. This year she can become the first athlete to win four in a row since Paula Newby-Fraser (1991 to 1994).

Each season her performances before Kona are scrutinized for potential signs that she “used to be better/faster/stronger”. After a long break at the start of the year, her wins at 70.3 Rapperswil, the European Championships and at 70.3 Gdynia with an almost-record-breaking time show that she’s racing maybe even better than ever before. Her Frankfurt race would have seen her finish seventh in a competitive men’s field! She also won 70.3 Championships with a strong run performance, and if her preparation for Kona does not run into major problems, only Madame Pele can keep Daniela from winning her fourth Kona title.

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Photo: Dani riding 25 minutes faster than any other female at IM Frankfurt. Credit: James Mitchell

Kona Kings & Queens: Lucy Charles

This is an excerpt from my “Kona 2018 Rating Report“. You can download your copy here.

Lucy BibLucy Points

The depth of the British women is amazing – there is always at least one athlete that does really well in Kona. Last year, Lucy was able to finish second in her first Pro race in Kona after leading the swim and most of the bike and then posting a new marathon PR.

This year she won the African Championships in convincing fashion with the fastest swim and bike legs and another personal best marathon with a 3:05. In the summer she raced Challenge Roth, and even though she posted her own fastest time with an 8:43, she was nine seconds behind winner Daniela Sämmler who ran her down in the final part of the run. At the 70.3 Championships she was able to ride the bike leg with Daniela and then able to hold on for second place with a solid run.

The main challenge for Lucy will be to not get distracted by secondary goals such as the swim course record or the T2 lead. But the other athletes will be aware of her potential and know that they’ll have to take some risks on the bike in order to have a chance to run her down in the marathon. But if Lucy still has enough left in the tank for another marathon PR in the Kona heat, she will be a strong podium contender.

10 Charles

Photo: Lucy on the bike at Challenge Roth. 
Credit: James Mitchell

Kona Kings & Queens: Lionel Sanders

This is an excerpt from my “Kona 2018 Rating Report“. You can download your copy here.

Lionel BibLionel Points

Lionel is the top candidate to become the first North American winner since fellow Canadian Peter Reid in 2003. After a great swim (leading the second group that included Sebastian Kienle) and a hard bike he was leading Kona 2017 for most of the marathon, only to be passed by Patrick Lange in the last miles.

Most of his 2018 racing has also been nearly flawless: Four 70.3 wins and just one second place (behind Jan Frodeno at 70.3 Oceanside). But even though he was qualified after winning IM Arizona in November, he still raced IM Mont Tremblant in August. His second place finished felt like a disaster to him: He struggled with energy issues all day and was racing very uneven. Apparently he was trying to lose some weight in the days before the race in addition to his low-carb nutrition. Lionel was pretty open about the issues in his YouTube channel, but there are only eight weeks between Mont Tremblant and Kona – enough time to still turn things around?

Lionel will need another swim in the second pack in order to not to have to spend too much energy too early. In Kona 2016 he wasn’t able to make it to the front of the race in time and he ended up finishing 29th. But if he can join forces with Sebi and Cam Wurf and work their way to the lead group on the bike as last year, then he can fight for a great Kona 2018 finish – and Lionel has shown that he can run well even when he is running on fumes.

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Photo: Lionel working hard (as usual) on the run at Challenge Samorin. Credit: James Mitchell

Kona Rookie Sara Svensk

Sara received a late roll-down July slot on August 10th when Lisa Roberts declined her slot. We’ve had an email discussion but not quite in time for my “Kona 2018 Rating Report”, but here are some of her thoughts before her first Kona race. 

Thorsten: How do you view your season so far? You were working hard for a Kona slot and raced a lot?

Sara: It has been a lot of ups and downs during the season but it has also being a learning experience for me. I’m new in the sport and right now I’m just trying to get as much experience as I can and try to develop as much as possible. This journey is special and I am enjoying the process. Of course it really hard sometimes but you always learn something from your setbacks or from a competition that didn’t go as you planned.

T: How will you prepare for Kona? Are there specific “areas” that you’ll be focusing on?

S: I will probably be a lot fresher, my body is responding to all the hard training and I recover fast. I really need to focus on heat adaption. Coming from a cold country like Sweden it could be a struggle if you don’t get it right. I love the heath though.

T: There are a lot of Scandinavian ladies on the Kona startlist. Why do you think are they so successful these days?

S: I believe that men and women in the Scandinavian countries are given almost the same opportunities to do sport on a professional level. Triathlon is a small sport in Sweden and the other Nordic countries and you need someone to make the first step and set the first mark. Seeing Michelle Vesterby, Camilla Pedersen, Helle Frederiksen, Maja Stage and Asa Lundstroem really inspires me and probably other women in Denmark and Sweden. They showed that it is possible to come from a small cold country and still to be able to compete on the highest level. We are getting there with Patrik Nilsson setting the first Swedish mark and I think will see a lot of Swedish guys in the future.

T: What’s the plan for your first race in Kona?

S: I just want to do a good race. I will mostly focus on my race and try to stick to my plan.

T: Are there any specific plans for racing after Kona?

S: We’ll see how Kona goes and take it from there. But probably a little break 😊

Sara Run

Photo: Sara training for the run. Credit: Romulo Cruz

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