Just when you think you're tough enough


IRONMAN European Championship heats up Frankfurt, Germany

Ironman European Championships heats up Frankfurt, Germany this weekend. (
Ironman European Championships heats up Frankfurt, Germany this weekend. (

This weekend, Frankfurt will host the 15th annual IRONMAN European Championship which will prove to be the greatest places for a tough race for both pros and age-groupers.

In the past few years, 2014 IRONMAN world champion Sebastian Kienle was almost a guarantee for making the podium since he started racing the event in 2012. Always a bit behind after the swim, year by year he hit the bike course in a way that made jaws drop.

Pro men racked and ready

This year, Kienle is ready to make news again in Frankfurt.

“I won’t bother being overmodest. I want to win the race,” added Kienle.

Kienle focused on a nine-week train and race tour through the US and came back to Europe in May in top shape. He heads into this year’s race not only with a freshly designed bike but with a simple goal: He wants to be close to the front in the swim before nailing down a crazy bike split to take his second win in Frankfurt.

“I’m still unbeaten this year and come into the European championship with tremendous self-confidence.” – Andreas Boecherer

Sebastian Kienle
Sebastian Kienle is the hot favourite. (

The pro start list for Sunday includes many more men who could jump on top of the leaderboard. In the water, Germany’s Christian Kramer and Andreas Boecherer will try to open up an early gap in partnership with Estonian Marko Albert and Alberto Casadei from Italy. Will Clarke (GBR), Eneko Llanos from Spain, and French Bertrand Billard, Joe Gambles (AUS), Dutch Bas Diederen, and O’Donnell might be in this group, too. The swim in the Lake Waldsee has always been a fast prelude to the day, and it’s very important that the athletes catch up with the strongest swimmers in order to have a chance on the tough bike course.

The bike leg is fast but hilly. If athletes want to make up time here after a weaker swim, they have to do it like Kienle always does. In the past few years, Kienle went through the course in Frankfurt like a Vespa, never slowing down at any point. Boecherer and Diederen are expected to let the hammer down on the bike, too.

O’Donnell says he is very excited to race on the legendary course as well: “It’s going to be an exciting and hotly contested race, quite a spectacle for fans in the city and lining the course.”

Kienle heads into the race being the number-one favorite, but he knows about the depths the champions have to go to survive on the four-loop run course around the Main river. If you go down the drain there, someone else will make the final right turn to the Roemerberg Platz and take the glorious crown in front of thousands of spectators.

daniela Ryf Ironman 703 bahrain
All eyes will be out on Daniela Ryf on the Ironman course.

A course record in waiting?

In the women’s race, Daniela Ryf is the name on everyone’s favorites lists. Last year, the 29-year-old started her path to victory early on, and then smashed the race in a no-words course record time of 8:51:00—the time she’ll undoubtedly want to beat on Sunday, on what is hopefully a much cooler day. Ryf already has IRONMAN 70.3 Dubai and IRONMAN 70.3 Switzerland under her belt this year—the Frankfurt crowds fell in love with her last year, and will undoubtedly cheer her to after another course record win.

Reigning IRONMAN world champion Ryf seems to be unbeatable, but the line-up for Sunday means she won’t take it easily. The 2015 IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship (in Melbourne) winner Melissa Hauschildt from Australia is gunning for the podium as well, and some German women will want to race as close to Ryf as possible, too. Diana Riesler heads into the race with the memory of winning the 2015 IRONMAN Lanzarote, Kristin Moeller is one of the fastest runners on this distance, and Daniela Saemmler won IRONMAN Mallorca last year. Additionally Natascha Schmitt wants to race hard in her home town—”my city, my race, my people,”—said the winner of previous IRONMAN 70.3 Luxembourg.

Besides many of Germany’s fastest women, Brit Caroline Livesey, Canadian Christine Fletcher, Bianca Steurer from Austria, and some more interesting names are on the list for Sunday. Emma Bilham (SUI) is another athlete to watch—she had a sensational IRONMAN debut in Nice a few weeks ago where she took second place, and is willing to put her bike strength on the map again in Frankfurt.

Follow the race-day action at on Sunday.