Just when you think you're tough enough


Sebastian Kienle and Melissa Hauschildt battles hard to win Ironman European Championships

Sebastian Kienle battled for top spot in the Ironman European Championships. (Getty Images)
Sebastian Kienle battled for top spot in the Ironman European Championships. (Getty Images)

Sebastian Kienle fought hard to come back from a 4-minute swim deficit to claim victory at the 2016 Mainova IRONMAN European Championship Frankfurt, his second European title after winning in 2014.

Australia’s Melissa Hauschildt kept calm in the swim and bike to notch a running win to the crown, as the top favourite reigning IRONMAN world champion, Daniela Ryf had to pull out of the race.

Kienle and Boecherer battle it out

Sebastian Kienle and Andreas Boecherer nailed a phenomenal race at the 2016 Mainova IRONMAN European Championship Frankfurt, where Kienle ran to his second European title after winning in 2014. This race was the best possible gift to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the event.

“I didn’t believe that Andi would be able to run a sub 2:50 or even next to 2:50, he absolutely proved me wrong today,” said Kienle later after a classic showdown on the run course.

Even before the race, Boecherer was one of the men expected to rule the race early in the water. Although there were good swimmers lined up at the front in the Lake Langener Waldsee, the pace was not exceptionally fast, due to the 23.8 degrees Celsius water temperature and non wetsuit-legal swim (for pros).

2014 IRONMAN European champion Sebastian Kienle was not happy with his performance in the water due to the fact that he was four minutes down.

“My swim was not good today but I’m really happy with my bike and especially with the run,” he said later.

The reason why he was smiling at the press conference was because the rest of his performance was purely magic to watch.

Once on the bike, Kienle hit the gas and started making up time on the flat first part of the bike course. After only 30 kilometers he had already reduced the gap down to the half, and by 60 km, he was only about a minute behind the leader.  When he caught up with the lead group he didn’t hammer to the front immediately, but stayed relaxed and controlled before taking off on a blistering pace in the second bike lap.

On the run, Kienle never gave up the lead and eventually opened up a gap of 100 seconds with 9 kilometers to go. Boecherer performed the marathon of his life getting very close to Kienle over the final kilometers, but finished just 57 seconds behind him.

“I never had a better second place, this doesn’t feel like second,” said Boecherer.

American Tim O’Donnell had a tough day at the office including a bike crash after leaving transition. He started into the run in 11th place and finally secured his Kona spot with a 9:12:58 finish time.

Melissa Hauschildt wins the Ironman European Championships. (Getty Images)
Melissa Hauschildt wins the Ironman European Championships. (Getty Images)

Hauschildt runs to the European crown

In the women’s race, no one was even thinking about anyone other than reigning IRONMAN world champion, Daniela Ryf. And at the start, the day seemed to prove all of the predictions right.

“The first few meters in the water were extremely good,” said the

When the pro women started into the European championship two minutes after the pro men, Ryf seemed to be heading into her own race, as she started catching the male pros on the first lap. But all of a sudden, Ryf slowed down on the second lap and started to swim some strokes on her back.

“I felt really really cold. My goal was to get as fast out of the water as possible. I haven’t been able to stay in the aero-positon (on the bike). It was not my day—it was more about a survival than about a race,” Ryf said.

Ryf still managed the best swim in 53:45, but the 29-year-old was moving slow when she came out of the water. She needed a long time in the transition zone, and when she started onto the bike course, her problems became bigger. After less than 30 kilometers, she dropped out of the race.

The local hero from Frankfurt, Schmitt was now in the main spot and passed thousands of familiar faces during a great bike ride. Starting into the marathon, Schmitt had a 5-minute lead over Germany’s Daniela Saemmler, with Australia’s Melissa Hauschildt 6:30 down. It took Hauschildt less than three kilometers to claim the runner-up position, with Schmitt looking quite strong in first place.

Hauschildt was gaining time on Schmitt with every single kilometer, and shortly before they hit the 20 kilometer mark, the 2015 IRONMAN Asia-Pacific champion made the pass.

“I tried to pace myself, running not too hard. I was only running for four weeks before this race. I really wanted to win because I really wanted to qualify for Kona,” said Hauschildt.

The Australian eventually was allowed to make this dream come true thanks to a great performance scratching the 9-hour barrier. “The black carpet on the way to the finish line was just amazing,” added Hauschildt.

Top 10 Pro Men

1 Kienle, Sebastian DEU 0:52:12 4:12:12 2:44:12 7:52:43
2 Boecherer, Andi DEU 0:48:41 4:15:27 2:45:02 7:53:40
3 Llanos, Eneko ESP 0:49:11 4:15:21 3:00:33 8:09:08
4 Albert, Marko EST 0:48:12 4:22:04 2:57:33 8:11:38
5 Clarke, William GBR 0:52:17 4:36:01 2:42:08 8:14:56
6 Kramer, Christian DEU 0:48:34 4:32:35 2:51:44 8:18:14
7 Chevrot, Denis FRA 0:48:14 4:39:39 2:47:33 8:19:59
8 Billard, Bertrand FRA 0:52:15 4:35:49 2:53:58 8:26:27
9 Duelsen, Marc DEU 0:54:23 4:34:23 2:53:32 8:26:59
10 Ackermann, Johann DEU 0:48:25 4:31:09 3:06:41 8:31:06

Top 10 Pro Women

1 Hauschildt, Melissa AUS 0:59:15 4:57:10 3:00:12 9:01:17
2 Konschak, Katja DEU 0:56:05 5:06:45 2:59:29 9:09:58
3 Saemmler, Daniela DEU 0:58:18 4:56:54 3:12:47 9:13:23
4 Schmitt, Natascha DEU 0:55:57 4:54:15 3:21:43 9:16:40
5 Walter, Verena DEU 1:01:45 4:55:49 3:16:04 9:18:58
6 Castro Noqueria, Saleta ESP 0:56:58 5:14:53 3:04:54 9:22:41
7 Duke, Dinity-Lee AUS 0:59:18 5:06:09 3:19:16 9:30:48
8 Grohmann, Katharina DEU 1:13:48 5:06:06 3:07:20 9:31:54
9 Steurer, Bianca AUT 0:59:19 5:14:46 3:19:14 9:37:59
10 Krejcova, Petra CZE 1:03:48 5:22:41 3:13:36 9:45:13