It’s no secret Jan Frodeno will be racing Challenge Roth this weekend, his first major race since the pandemic. The multiple Ironman world champion and Olympic gold medalist will be taking on the 2.4mile (3.8km) swim, 112mile (180km) bike and 26.2mile (42.2km) run for the second time in his career—the last time was in 2016 and he not only won but set a world record at the time. The mix of an iconic athlete and an iconic race is exactly the kind of opportunity that brings out the best in Frodeno but, coming off an Achilles tendon injury, even he has had to face doubt.
THEMAGIC5: You’re coming off a big injury to your Achilles tendon and a few bumpy years because of the pandemic. Are you feeling pressure to perform and live up to your reputation?
Jan Frodeno: This has literally been doing my head in over the last weeks. I always expect the highest outcome of myself in training and racing. My internal expectation will never even closely be matched by any outside pressure. But realizing that I’m going through a phase where this expectation is not only unrealistic but also harmful has been tough. It’s a vicious cycle that’s hard to stop but I’ve come to realize that I need to go back to my roots of an innocent love for the sport in order to hopefully get back to realistically expecting the best.
What is the biggest change or development you’ve made in the last 6-12 months?
The last six months in particular have been immense. Realizing that my body’s capacity to heal is finite was a hard reminder of things I had hoped to leave in the past. With that comes a lot of reflection as to why things are happening they way they are and accepting that life is an endless chain of events, somehow connected. Seeing light at the end of the tunnel makes me look forward to seeing these lessons unfold.
Challenge Roth is an iconic race—the world’s largest with over a quarter million spectators with 30,000 typically lining the Solarer Berg alone. What is your favorite thing about the event?
It is iconic! I’m looking forward to feeling the tremendous energy around the event, something I’ve missed dearly over the last almost three years now. The Solarer Berg is a symbol of this like no other in our sport—a gathering of pure energy and power—only on race day. It’s actually unbelievable how underwhelming this hill is any other time and that’s exactly why it’s so special.
Who or what is inspiring you now?
Of course I get inspiration from the old (in professional sport terms) girls and guys, resisting the clock. For they have achieved, they can’t buy more time but are continuing for the love of their sport, since they don’t need to do it anymore. Serena, Tom, Roger…
What is getting you excited in the world of triathlon?
The world of triathlon is so exciting at the moment as there are so many new formats alongside the traditional events that may always lead the way but are few and far between. Super League, new ITU formats, Collins Cup and the Open Series of the PTO all have the potential to do good things for our sport—spectating and participation wise. And of course SGrail is going to change the way we look at fun racing!